During a recent Sacramento-area Smog Check, a consumer was told that her car didn’t pass the visual inspection portion of the test. The Smog Check station said it would not complete the rest of the test and also refused to give her a refund.
In a situation such as this, what options are out there to help consumers? One important option consumers should take advantage of is the California Bureau of Automotive Repair’s (BAR) Referee Program.
Working to support consumers and the California Smog Check Program, BAR’s Referee Program has a statewide network of inspection centers that not only assists motorists with unusual Smog Check issues, but also provides specialized services not available through licensed Smog Check stations. Through this program, you can dispute the results of the test and get a third-party evaluation by the Referee.
Some of the Referee Program services include:
Repair Cost Waivers: If your vehicle fails its Smog Check and you had at least $650 in emission-related repairs done by a licensed Smog Check station and cannot afford the additional repairs, there is a one-time waiver available. The waiver allows the vehicle to be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Vehicles modified for use by disabled drivers: If your vehicle has been retrofitted for a wheelchair, or the steering and braking systems have been modified in a manner that make the vehicle difficult to test at a licensed Smog Check station, you can go to a Referee station.
Grey Market vehicles: If your car was imported into California and was not built to U.S. and California emission standards, your car is considered a “Grey Market” vehicle and will require an inspection at a Referee center.
Smog Check–exempt vehicles: Referee stations can inspect vehicles to verify Smog Check exemptions and issue Exempt Certificates.
Visit www.asktheref.org or call (800) 622-7733 to learn more details about the BAR Referee Program, find a Referee station, or to schedule an appointment. Please note there are vehicles—motorcycles and older gasoline or diesel vehicles—that are ineligible to be tested at Referee Program centers.
For more information about BAR, visit www.bar.ca.gov.