Your Rights as a Customer

Your Rights as a Customer

Did you know that customers of automotive and smog check stations have certain rights in California? The Automotive Repair Act requires licensed stations to keep the customer informed, only do work that the customer authorizes, keep written records of all work, and give copies of the invoices and reports to the customer.

Smog inspections are authorized when you sign the estimate, and as the customer, you receive a copy of the signed estimate. The estimate gives you a description of the job as well as the odometer reading. You will be provided an estimate of the costs for parts and labor, but no charges can go above the amount of the estimate without your approval. (There is no tax on labor in California – tax is charged only on parts.)

If you drop off your car at the station before or after business hours, the station must have contact with you to explain the price. Once the inspection is completed, you must initial or sign the paperwork, showing that you gave oral consent to the inspection and its cost. If the labor will go above the initial quoted price, the station must contact you, at which time you can email or fax your consent for the increased price.

Your final invoice will be given to you when the inspection is complete, and it will show an itemized description of all the labor that was performed. Attached to the invoice, the licensed Smog Check station must give you a copy of the vehicle inspection test report printed from the emission inspection system.

The Smog Check station must keep a copy of your invoice and vehicle inspection report for a minimum of three years, and the station’s records must be accessible for inspection by the Bureau of Automotive Repair during regular business hours.

An automotive repair dealer’s registration can be revoked or suspended for several reasons. For example, it is unlawful for a station to make untrue statements and give false promises to a customer or to not give the customer a copy of signed documents. Fraud, negligence, and failure to comply with the Automotive Repair Act are all grounds for revocation and suspension.

You have the right to use a Referee Center for a fee if you feel that the Smog Check test or repair was improper if you received a failing test outcome. You can also use the referee if your vehicle cannot be inspected because of an intrinsic problem with the vehicle.