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DMV Strike Team Task Force presents at BAR meeting

Proposed storage fee regulations, Cool Air Rebate Program, consumer complaints and enforcement statistics, and more also discussed

Sacramento, Calif.—The Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) held a regulatory workshop on April 25, to discuss proposed regulations on storage and towing fees charged by automotive repair dealers and more. Jack Molodanof, ASCCA and CAA legislative advocate, was in attendance for the meeting in Sacramento and has provided the following summary.

Storage Workshop

The BAR is proposing new storage regulations which would place limitations (caps) on what shops can charge for storage and impose new administrative requirements on automotive repair shops. Among other things, shops will be required to post and display current daily storage rates visible to customers and notify, in writing, when charges will accrue.

Jack Molodanof is president of Molodanof Government Relations

Auto body shops will be required to report their annual daily storage rates to the BAR under penalty of perjury. BAR is creating a search tool for the public to identify storage rates charged in a given locale. The definition of “locale” was much debate.

If shops are performing repairs, they will be able to charge rates comparable to other facilities in the same locale. However, shops that are charging towing and storage fees with no repairs will only be able to charge storage fees similar to CHP or local police departments. 

The shop may not charge storage while the customer vehicle is undergoing repairs, which includes the teardown process. When performing a tear down, the shop must inform the customer of the number of days after estimate that the customer has to authorize or remove vehicle prior to storage fees accruing. Vehicles must be stored at shop’s primary business, and the shop must notify consumer if the vehicle is moved to another location. Other areas of the regulations need clarification. 

BAR indicated that they would review all input and comments from the hearing and conduct another workshop in the near future.

BAR Advisory Group Meeting

Legislation and Regulations Update. Pending bills: AB 1901 (Total Loss Claims); AB 2188 (Pollution Control Devices); SB 301 (Zero-Emissions Aftermarket Conversion Project); SB 615 (Vehicle Traction Batteries); SB 898 (Window Tinting); SB 1526 (Business and Professions – Clean up). 

Pending BAR regulations include Smog Check Inspection Equipment and Station Requirements (DAD specification update) updates; Consumer Assistance Program Incentive Increases; Smog Check Readiness Monitor Limits; Storage and Towing Fees and Tear Down Disclosure Requirements; See this link for presentation. 

DMV Vehicle Dismantling Strike Team Presentation. The Strike Team Task Force was created to target unlicensed dismantling facilities and unlicensed repair facilities to address problems of unlicensed activity for purposes of environmental impacts, public health impacts, tax evasion, and to bring dismantlers into compliance. 

The Strike Team may also inspect licensed BAR shops. During their inspection, if the see, for example, catalytic converters lying around, they may request documentation to prove they came from a consumer vehicle as opposed to being stolen. The BAR is working with the Strike Force Team Task Force on these efforts. See this link for presentation. 

Cool Air Rebate Program Update. Nathan Perrine of the Car Care Council returned and provided an update of the Cool Air Rebate Program. The program provides financial assistance to income-eligible vehicle owners to repair leaking or open A/C systems. It will reimburse participating auto repair shops who repair A/C units. 

The shop must complete application and have a 609 certification. The shop gets paid directly for diagnostics and repairs costs within two weeks of completion. There is a $1,500 limit on repair reimbursement, with the customer responsible for 20% of the cost. The funding comes from unclaimed deposits on cans of R134a sold in California ($10.00 deposit, per can that is not claimed by consumer). See this link for presentation. 

Enforcement Licensing Modernization (ELM) Project Update. BAR provided an update on the BAR website modernization project. BAR applications can now be initiated online rather than filling out paper applications through the mail. This will streamline the process to make approvals quicker. The BAR provided a demonstration of how to apply for a BAR license/registration. Station licenses, changes, individual licensees and renewals will be able to be accomplished later this year. See link for presentation.  

Complaint Case Study. BAR provided an overview of two consumer complaint dealing with documentation issues. The first case arose from a dispute over the number of days for which storage fees were charged by a body shop. The BAR indicated that the ARD documentation regrading storage fees was inconsistent and confusing, ultimately leading the BAR to conclude the ARD had overcharged for storage and recommended a refund.

The second consumer complaint case involved alleged unauthorized charges related to inspection and diagnoses of a shifting problem. The ARD documents clearly demonstrated the transactional steps, and BAR found no evidence of unauthorized charges. For more details see the link for presentation. 

Enforcement Statistics. The enforcement statistics, detailing consumer complaints received by BAR in different categories, are as follows: Engine Repair 33%; Auto Body 18%; General Repair/Maintenance 16%; Transmission 7%; Used Car 6%; Vehicle Purchase 6%; Smog 5%; Towing and Storage 3%. Unlicensed activity 2%; See link for the handout presentation.  

Licensing Statistics. A total of 34,309 automotive repair dealers are in the state. See this link for handout presentation.  

Next BAR Advisory Group Meeting – Thursday, July 18 

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