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Repair Assistance FAQs

1. What is the Repair Assistance Program?

The Repair Assistance Program is administered by the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) and is designed to help improve California's air quality. The Repair Assistance Program provides qualified consumers who own a vehicle that fails its biennial (every other year) Smog Check inspection up to $500 in financial assistance towards certain emissions-related repairs.

2. What are the requirements to repair my vehicle through CAP?

Eligibility requirements are available here.

3. How do I participate in Repair Assistance?

If your vehicle fails its biennial (every other year) Smog Check inspection, you may submit a completed CAP application. To apply online, click here or contact the Department of Consumer Affairs Consumer Information Center at (800) 952-5210.

4. Are there documents I should submit with my application?

You may be required to provide documentation verifying your household income. Click here for a list of acceptable income documents.

5. How will I be notified if I qualify?

After your application is processed, you will be mailed a determination letter. In general, CAP applications are processed within two (2) weeks of receipt of a completed application.

6. If approved, what can I expect?

If approved, you will receive a Letter of Eligibility which will provide specific instructions on how to repair your vehicle through CAP.

7. Where do I take my vehicle for repairs?

You must take your vehicle to a STAR Test-and-Repair station authorized to repair vehicles participating in CAP. Click here for a list of STAR Test-and-Repair stations authorized to perform CAP repairs or call (800) 952-5210.

8. Is there a deadline for repairing my vehicle through CAP?

Yes. Repairs on your vehicle must start before the expiration date indicated on your Letter of Eligibility. If you are unable to use the Letter of Eligibility by the expiration date, but are still interested in participating in the program, you will need to re-apply and meet all eligibility requirements at that time.

9. If I take my vehicle to a non-STAR Test-and-Repair station, will CAP provide financial assistance toward the cost of repairs?

No. CAP is only authorized to pay for repairs that are completed by STAR Test-and-Repair stations that have entered into an agreement with BAR to perform state subsidized emissions-related repair work.

10. What costs am I initially responsible for paying?

Participation in Repair Assistance requires that, as a co-payment, consumers pay the total costs associated with the testing and diagnosis of the emissions-related failures for their vehicle. The payment shall be made directly to a STAR Test-and-Repair station that is authorized to perform CAP repairs.

11. What other charges will I be responsible for paying?

Consumers must pay for the Certificate of Compliance ($8.25) and any repairs authorized by the consumer which exceed the $500 CAP benefit.

12. What do stations charge for diagnosis, testing, and repairs?

In order to ensure the best price and value for required repairs, consumers should obtain more than one estimate prior to authorizing diagnosis, testing, or repairs for their vehicles. CAP has no authority over the prices charged by auto repair facilities. Auto repair businesses are allowed to set their own prices. CAP does, however, require that STAR Test-and-Repair stations charge CAP consumers no more for repairs than would be charged to a non-CAP consumer.

13. Will I be reimbursed for repairs that helped my vehicle pass Smog Check prior to applying with CAP?

No. CAP cannot reimburse consumers for tests, diagnosis, or repairs performed.

14. Why does a station have to test and diagnose my vehicle before making repairs?

STAR Test-and-Repair stations are responsible for verifying and documenting the current condition of the vehicle as it relates to the Smog Check failure before repairs are made.

15. Can a STAR Test-and-Repair station decline to work on my vehicle?

STAR Test-and-Repair stations have the discretion of not accepting vehicles for any of the following reasons:
  • The vehicle is inaccessible, unsafe, or untestable.
  • The station does not have the expertise to diagnose and repair your specific vehicle.
  • The consumer is uncooperative or unwilling to work within CAP guidelines

16. What if the station is uncooperative or unwilling to work within CAP guidelines?

  • File a complaint through BAR's website , or call CAP at (866) 272-9642. CAP agents are available to answer calls Monday through Friday from 8:10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Please note that BAR offices are closed on Saturdays, Sundays, and state holidays.

17. What types of repairs are covered?

CAP will only pay for emissions-related repairs.

18. What types of repairs are not covered by CAP?

CAP will not pay for non-emissions related repairs or regularly scheduled maintenance items unless it is the direct cause of the emissions failure. Non-reimbursable items include, but are not limited to:
  • Additives
  • Air filters
  • Batteries
  • Body repairs
  • Brakes
  • Charging and starting system
  • Completing OBD II Drive Cycles (The station may allow consumer to complete.)
  • Cooling system flushes
  • Coolant hoses
  • Fuel
  • Fuel filters
  • Glass repairs
  • Heating ventilation and air conditioning repairs
  • Injection flushes (Except as recommended by the manufacturer for emissions related repairs.)
  • Locking gas caps (Unless it is the only available option.)
  • Maintenance Items (Except those that are the direct cause of the Smog Check failure
  • Motor and transmission mounts
  • Mufflers
  • Oil change and oil filters
  • Oil and fluid top-offs
  • Oil leaks
  • Oil treatments
  • Radiators
  • Repairs performed after the vehicle is certified
  • Repairs performed without the consumer's authorization
  • Safety related equipment (i.e., air bags, seat belts)
  • Suspension
  • Tailpipes
  • Tires
  • Top engine cleaning (Except as recommended by the manufacturer for emissions-related repairs.)
  • Transmission flushes
  • Water pumps
  • 2004 and older Nissan product knock sensor

19. What are my options if the repairs exceed what CAP can pay?

  • You may continue with the repair process and pay for additional repair costs yourself.
  • You may be eligible for the CAP Vehicle Retirement option.
  • You may be eligible for a one-time Repair Cost Waiver through the Referee. You may speak with your STAR Test-and-Repair station about the waiver option or contact the Referee at (800) 622-7733.

20. Where can I get more information?

Contact CAP at (866) 272-9642. CAP agents are available to answer calls Monday through Friday from 8:10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Please note that BAR offices are closed on Saturdays, Sundays, and state holidays.

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