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New laws and programs taking effect in the new year

Sacramento, Calif.—The Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) lists several new laws and programs taking effect in 2024 that impact auto repairers

Sunset Review

AB 1263 (Berman, Chapter 681, Statutes of 2023) – Bureau of Automotive Repair

Extends BAR’s sunset date to January 1, 2028, as well as the following:

  • Amends the definition of “automotive repair dealer” (ARD) to additionally include a person who engages in the business of collecting compensation for automotive repair services that are referred or sublet to someone other than the dealer or their employees.
  • Authorizes BAR to adopt regulations to clarify the authority to regulate storage fees charged by ARDs consistent with provisions of the Vehicle Code and Civil Code.
  • Authorizes BAR to establish a centralized testing network for inspecting model year 1995 and older vehicles that require a BAR-97 inspection, which may include subcontracted licensed Smog Check stations.
  • Beginning no earlier than January 1, 2025, authorizes BAR to implement testing using onboard diagnostic systems only (i.e., no BAR-97 inspection) on model year 1996-1999 vehicles, as is currently done on model year 2000 and newer vehicles.
  • Specifies that it is the intent of the Legislature that the Bureau continue to maintain the BAR Advisory Group to advise the Bureau on regulatory issues and programs affecting the automotive repair industry.
  • Provides that any employee of an ARD who was involved in the violation resulting in the Bureau’s issuance of the citation also may be required to attend remedial training with the ARD to prevent disclosure of the citation on BAR’s website.
  • Provides that, for purposes of the provisions relating to the Smog Check Program, the term “qualified Smog Check technician” refers to both Smog Check (repair) technicians and Smog Check inspectors.
  • Requires the Smog Check Performance Report to be completed biennially rather than annually.
  • Provides that a fraudulent inspection additionally includes clean plugging, clean gassing, clean tanking, or any other fraudulent inspection practice.
  • Makes technical cleanup updates to the Business and Professions Code and Vehicle Code to transition the lamp and brake programs to the Vehicle Safety Systems Inspection Program pursuant to AB 471 (Low, Chapter 372, Statutes of 2021).
  • Requires the seller of a salvaged vehicle to provide the purchaser a valid vehicle safety systems certificate prior to, or at the time of, delivery for sale.

Combatting Catalytic Converter Theft

AB 641 (Fong, Chapter 537, Statutes of 2023) – Automobile Dismantlers and Catalytic Converters

Revises the definition of automobile dismantler to include a person who keeps or maintains on property owned by the person, or under their possession or control: (1) two or more unregistered motor vehicles no longer intended for, or in condition for, legal use on the highways; or (2) six or more used catalytic converters that have been cut from a motor vehicle using a sharp implement.

AB 1519 (Bains, Chapter 847, Statutes of 2023) – Catalytic Converters

Prohibits any person from removing or altering the vehicle identification number (VIN) that has been added to a catalytic converter, or from knowingly possessing three or more catalytic converters that have been so altered.

SB 55 (Umberg, Chapter 858, Statutes of 2023) – Catalytic Converters

Prohibits a dealer or retailer from selling a new or used motor vehicle (including motorcycles) equipped with a catalytic converter unless the catalytic converter has been engraved or etched with the VIN of the vehicle to which it is attached. The law, until January 1, 2025, exempts from this prohibition a vehicle purchased from a dealer licensed in California who is also licensed in another state and does not have a warranty service facility in California.

Promoting Public Participation

SB 544 (Laird, Chapter 216, Statutes of 2023) – Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act

Allows Department of Consumer Affairs boards and bureaus to continue conducting single-site physical meetings without providing electronic public access and allows these regulatory bodies to conduct virtual meetings by either telephone or online platform under certain conditions.

Vehicle Safety Systems Inspection Program

On December 29, BAR filed proposed regulations with the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) to establish a new Vehicle Safety Systems Inspection Program (VSSIP) that will replace the existing brake and lamp inspection programs, as required by AB 471 (Low, Chapter 372, Statutes of 2021). The new program will include a more comprehensive inspection of multiple vehicle safety systems and an electronic certificate of compliance for vehicles that pass the inspection.

BAR anticipates the proposed regulations will be adopted by OAL and take effect in the first calendar quarter of 2024.

Resources to assist licensees with the transition from the existing brake and lamp inspection programs to the VSSIP will be made available at Licensees are encouraged to carefully review upcoming ET Blasts and other BAR notifications for additional updates.

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