Failed Your Smog Check? Consumer Repair Assistance Is Available

So maybe you’ve been delaying repairs and tune-ups on your car due to financial constraints, and to add to the problem, you find out that you just received a failing score on your Smog Check. How are you supposed to get your car up to par? There is no need to worry, because the California Department of Consumer Affairs has got your back.

The gist of the program is that the Bureau of Automotive Repair Division of the Department of Consumer Affairs provides financial help to eligible motorists. Smog Check stations are required to post current information about the program. CAP, or the Consumer Assistance Program, offers some funding assistance to make necessary repairs after a failed biennial Smog Check. (You may qualify to receive funds to retire the vehicle altogether and get your high polluter off the road; there is a list of criteria that must be met to be qualify for vehicle retirement.)

To receive aid for repair costs after a failed Smog Check, you must be the owner of the vehicle and have paid all your DMV registration fees. Your vehicle must be used for personal use only (i.e. it cannot be registered as a business or non-profit vehicle), and it cannot be newly registered in California. Also, your emissions control system must not have been tampered with, and you cannot be in the middle of selling the vehicle.

There are two types of motorists who qualify for assistance: Motorists who are eligible by virtue of their limited income, OR motorists who are eligible because their renewal notice required them to have a Smog Check at a Test-Only or Gold Shield Station.

To be income eligible to receive the maximum $500 in repair assistance, your income cannot exceed certain levels. For example, your gross household annual income cannot exceed $47,700 for a household of four. (A household is specifically defined as all family members or other persons who reside together, including you.) For a couple, your gross household income cannot exceed $31,500; and if you’re single, the maximum annual income for eligibility is $23,400. Please see the financial application at the Bureau of Automotive Repair’s website for further income categories.

The Test-Only Eligibility program is less generous than the Income Eligibility program – you must pay the first $100 toward the diagnosis and repair of your vehicle before the State will contribute up to $500 in repairs at a CAP-approved repair facility. Conversely, the Income Eligible participants need only contribute $20 before the State will provide the $500 toward repairs. Please visit for details.