New State Laws and Regs Tweak Auto Shop Estimate, Authorization Processes

When it comes to authorizing work to be done on a vehicle, new regulations adopted by the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) will allow automotive repair dealers to provide their customers with more ways to say “go.”

BAR’s new electronic regulations allow consumers to authorize work to be done on their vehicles via text message, and repair dealers can also provide copies of the work order and final invoice electronically.

Prior to implementation of these regulations, consumers authorized work in writing, verbally in person or over the phone, or by obtaining electronic authorization via fax or email. The new regulations expand the definition of electronic authorization to include text messaging and other forms of electronic communication.

If consumers aren’t comfortable with electronic communication, they still have the option to do it the old-fashioned way, via phone or in writing.

The electronic regulations aren’t the only change for 2019. AB 3141, passed by the California State Legislature and signed by Governor Jerry Brown in September 2018, requires businesses performing “preventative maintenance services,” such as oil and other fluid changes and rotating tires, to now be licensed by BAR as an automotive repair dealer and changed the circumstances that require a written estimate to be issued by an automotive repair dealer.

Previous law required automotive repair dealers to give the customer a written estimated price for labor and parts necessary for a specific job. The new law specifies that an automotive repair dealer performing preventative maintenance services is not required to provide a written estimate as long as the service is performed free of charge or the total price for labor and parts is conspicuously displayed and acknowledged by the customer.

All repair dealers must be licensed by BAR, so that mediation of consumer complaints and consumer protection for any wrongdoing can be provided by BAR, just like with any other automotive repair or maintenance service.

Consumers are reminded to patronize only licensed automotive repair dealers. To check the license status, visit BAR’s website.

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