BAR Smog Check Referee Program: Fair Play and Clean Air

refDuring 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 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


  3 comments for “BAR Smog Check Referee Program: Fair Play and Clean Air

  1. September 20, 2016 at 10:49 am

    my car won’t pass no matter how many miles and tricks I do… have a voucher but no mechanic will fix it because THERE IS NOTHING TO FIX! Computer will not kick in to make oxygen sensors READY to be tested. I can’t imagine going to yet ANOTHER check at a referee program simply to get the same test results: Oxygen Sensors: Not Ready
    What in the world am I supposed to do?
    Car runs perfectly, low miles: 56K.

  2. Theresa
    August 13, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    Don’t take it to .another mechanic. Take it to an auto electrician. I took my nightmare truck to an auto electrician and he figured out my problem immediately. Something the REFEREE failed to do!!!!! The REFEREE had a list for me that was$2600 easy i bought all that crap when it wasn’t necessary! It was just a fuse!!!!!

  3. June 12, 2019 at 11:12 am

    Very informative, thank you so much for sharing this post with us.

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