Don’t Miss the Latest Issue of Consumer Connection!

In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recalled 51.3 million autos in the United States. The recalls included everything from defective ignition switches and consumer-connection-winter-2016steering wheels to acceleration issues and airbag and seatbelt defects. If you receive a recall notice, don’t ignore it. The winter 2016 issue of Consumer Connection walks you through what to do if you receive one.

This edition of DCA’s magazine continues its regular feature highlighting Department leadership. This issue includes an interview with the Executive Officer of the Board of Registered Nursing (Board), Joseph Morris. Mr. Morris discusses his background, long-term goals for the Board, and the Board’s challenges ahead.

The issue also explores a variety of other interesting topics, including recognizing a flood-damaged car when shopping for a used vehicle, fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and the recently launched California State Athletic Commission’s campaign to prevent and treat concussions.

Visit the DCA website to download or read the magazine. You can also pick up a printed copy in the DCA Headquarters lobby at 1625 North Market Boulevard in Sacramento. Or, to have it mailed to you at no charge, call (866) 320-8652 or send an e-mail request to consumerconnection@dca.ca.gov. Get connected!

 

Don’t Kick That Recall Notice to the Curb

In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recalled 51.3 million automobiles in the United States.  That’s an all-time record and almost three times the number of cars that were sold during the year. These recalls included everything from defective ignition switches and steering wheels, to acceleration issues and worn out suspension parts.

Auto recalls occur when a manufacturer (or the NHTSA) determines that a car model (or several models) has a safety-related defect or does not comply with a federal safety standard.iTunesArtwork@2x1

One of the largest automotive recalls this year (2016) that continues to dominate the news involves more than 29 million defective Takata airbag inflators. According to the NHTSA, these airbags have been prone to explode during collisions, resulting in shrapnel flying throughout the vehicle and wounding—and in some cases killing—the driver and or occupants.

Not all automotive recalls consumers receive may pose an imminent threat or danger. Some may be for issues like an annoying rattle or noise emanating from the vehicle or other non-safety issues such as a faulty radio or air conditioner.

Dan Povey, the Deputy Chief of Field Operations & Enforcement for the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) recommends that consumers who receive automotive recall notices shouldn’t ignore them.

“It’s important for consumers to take the notices seriously and read them very carefully,” says Povey. “Follow the instructions and contact your local dealer as soon as possible.”

Recall notices usually contain the following information:

  • A description of the defect.
  • The potential risks and hazards of the problems including the type of injuries that may arise from the defect.
  •  A list of possible warning signs.
  •  Steps the manufacturer will take to fix the issue(s).
  • The estimated time to complete the repair.

While recall notices don’t have expiration dates, there can be an expiration date for work to be completed at no cost on vehicles more than 10 years old.

In addition, recall repairs should only be done by dealer representatives that have agreements with vehicle manufacturers to perform these repairs, which also have the expertise to repair the make of a vehicle being recalled.

Manufacturers that initiate vehicle recalls have agreements with dealers to perform recall repairs. Consumers may have recall repairs done by any dealer representative, regardless of where the vehicle was originally purchased. For example, a Honda purchased at Mel Rapton Honda may have a recall repair done by Maita Honda, Folsom Honda or Auto Nation Honda.

Most importantly, consumers should make sure that the dealerships that perform their recall and warranty repairs are registered with BAR as an Automotive Repair Dealer (ARD).

If a consumer believes the work on their vehicle hasn’t been done properly or feels they’ve been treated unfairly by an ARD, they should file a complaint with BAR (www.bar.dca.gov) as well as contact the vehicle manufacturer with complaints about dealer representatives.

Consumers can call the NHTSA’s Vehicle Safety Complaint Hotline at 800.424.9393 for more information on vehicle recalls/complaints.  To check for active recalls on your vehicle, it’s best to visit the manufacturer’s website or www.nhtsa.gov.

Bureau of Automotive Repair’s Consumer Assistance Program (CAP)

With some of the strictest vehicle emissions standards in the Nation, many motorists in California are aware that sooner or later, their vehicle will be required to have a biennial (every other year) Smog Check inspection.

Let’sSMOG say your registration renewal notice indicated that your car needed a Smog Check, you took your vehicle to a Smog Check station and your vehicle failed the inspection.  Emissions-related repairs can vary and may be costly.  What is a consumer to do?  Check out the Repair Assistance option under the Bureau of Automotive Repair’s (BAR) Consumer Assistance Program (CAP).

CAP was designed to help improve California’s air quality and assist in the effort to ensure vehicles meet the State’s emissions standards. Eligible consumers may receive financial assistance up to $500 towards certain emissions-related repairs.  Since 2000, BAR has administered the program on a first-come, first-served basis, depending on availability of funds.

The requirements for the repair assistance program are as follows:

  • The vehicle must have failed its “biennial” Smog Check inspection.
  • The vehicle must not have a tampered emissions control system.
  • The vehicle must be currently registered with the DMV with a valid, unexpired registration sticker OR have all fees paid to the DMV and not have a registration that has been expired more than 120 days.
  • The vehicle registration must not have lapsed for more than 120 days during the two consecutive years preceding the current registration expiration date.
  • The vehicle must not be undergoing a transfer of ownership, initial registration, or re-registration in California.
  • The vehicle must not be registered to a business, fleet, or non-profit organization.
  • You must be the registered owner with title issued in your name.
  • You must have a household income that is less than or equal to two hundred twenty-five percent (225%) of the federal poverty level, as published in the Federal Register by the United States Department of Health and Human Services
  • You must not have previously received assistance for the same vehicle through CAP.

To highlight the benefits of the program, the Bureau of Automotive Repair and the California Department of Consumer Affairs developed a short video featuring an actual consumer who participated in the Consumer Assistance Program.

For more information about CAP and to download an application, please visit www.smogcheck.ca.gov.

Don’t forget.  Check the license!  Before taking your vehicle to a Smog Check station, it is important to verify that the station is licensed.  To verify a license, click here or go to www.bar.ca.gov and click the “License Search” button on the main page.

NATIONAL AUTOMOTIVE SERVICE PROFESSIONALS WEEK June 8 – 14, 2016

Since 2001, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence has declared one week in June as National Automotive Service Professionals Week.

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This year, June 8 – 14, is the designated week for consumers to show their appreciation to the men and women who repair and help maintain the myriad of vehicles we depend on for our daily transportation needs.

Today’s vehicles are more sophisticated and technically advanced than earlier models.  They are essentially computers driving on America’s roads.  Hours of training and education are necessary to properly diagnose and repair these vehicles and it requires a significant level of knowledge, skill and dedication.

The California Department of Consumer Affairs along with the Bureau of Automotive Repair and the Arbitration Certification Program are proud to recognize these professionals for their commitment to their customers and the automotive industry.

Latest Consumer Connection Magazine Highlights New Medical Marijuana Bureau

spring 2016

The first issue of 2016 is out, and it’s packed with great information.

Last year, the passage of the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act added another new regulatory entity—the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation—under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). Although it doesn’t officially open its doors until 2018, the DCA team is already hard at work getting its structure in place.  This issue outlines what the new laws do and how DCA will implement them, and also addresses some common questions and answers for consumers, businesses and potential licensees.

Also last year, the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) took the lead in addressing the issue of youth pankration (mixed martial arts fighting). Now, CSAC is leading the way again, this time addressing the risky—and sometimes deadly—practice of extreme weight cutting. Read about this along with recommendations on how to manage prescription costs; how to protect your hearing; what to do if your car is a lemon; new laws that impact Californians; crowdfunding and more.

Visit the DCA website to download or read the magazine. You can also pick up a printed copy in the DCA Headquarters lobby at 1625 North Market Boulevard in Sacramento. Or, to have it mailed to you at no charge, call (866) 320-8652 or send an e-mail request to consumerconnection@dca.ca.gov. Get connected!

Updated Consumer’s Guide to Auto Repair

BAR_ConsumerGuide_CVRWBIf you’re like most Californians, you depend on your vehicle. When it needs service or repair, you want the work done quickly, correctly, and at a reasonable cost.
By following the tips in the recently updated Consumer’s Guide to Auto Repair from the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR), you can keep your vehicle in good condition and ensure a good working relationship with your auto repair shop.
For more valuable consumer information from BAR, visit www.bar.ca.gov or call toll-free at (800) 952-5210.

Have Your Vehicle Ready for Rising Temperatures

Driving_blogHot weather can be rough on cars. Higher temperatures break down fluids and lubricants more quickly, which leads to more wear and tear on an engine.

Following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule for your car or truck (see your owner’s manual) and using these precautionary tips from the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) should have you roadway-ready as temperatures climb.

  • Before taking any road trips, consider a pre-trip inspection by a licensed auto repair facility. Have any recommended repairs done before you leave.
  • Test the air conditioning. Turn it on and let it run for a few minutes. Inspect the belts and hoses. You may want to have a service professional inspect the entire system.
  • Inspect the battery and battery cables for corrosion, cracks, and dirt. Hot weather can shorten a battery’s life, so have it tested if it is near the end of its warranty. Replace the battery if necessary.
  • Change the engine oil and filter according to the manufacturer’s service intervals and specifications. Your licensed service technician should also check the coolant, brake, automatic transmission, windshield wiper, and steering fluids.
  • Have a licensed brake adjuster inspect your brake pads and linings for wear according to the manufacturer’s service intervals and specifications.
  • Make sure all tires, including the spare, are properly inflated. Look for uneven or excessive tread wear. Have your tires rotated based on the manufacturer specifications.
  • Never leave for a trip with your car’s check-engine light or malfunction indicator light on. Have the problem diagnosed by a qualified technician and make necessary repairs before you leave.
  • Test your car’s interior and exterior lights, including turn signals and high beams, to make sure they work. Clean the lenses to get maximum visibility.
  • Change your car’s air filters according to the manufacturer’s specifications—a dirty air filter lowers gas mileage and limits engine performance.
  • Have the radiator and hoses checked for leaks and wear. Have the cooling system flushed and refilled according to the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. This service should include a check of the pressure cap.

Remember: You can verify the license status of a repair dealer or other service specialist and check for possible disciplinary actions by visiting the Bureau of Automotive Repair website, www.autorepair.ca.gov. Click on “Verify a License.” Or, call (800) 952-5210 for the same information. For the Top 5 Reasons to Read Your Owner’s Manual or to find a registered repair shop in your area, visit the BAR website.

ICYMI: Bureau of Automotive Repair Tests Counterfeit Airbags

As part of an investigation by ABC’s 20/20, the California Bureau of Automotive Repair was asked to test counterfeit airbags to demonstrate how dangerous they can be as illustrated in the video above. Please note no one was injured during this test.

For the complete ABC 20/20 story, click here.

BAR Smog Check Referee Program: Fair Play and Clean Air

refDuring a recent Sacramento-area Smog Check, a consumer was told that her car didn’t pass the visual inspection portion of the test. The Smog Check station said it would not complete the rest of the test and also refused to give her a refund.

In a situation such as this, what options are out there to help consumers? One important option consumers should take advantage of is the California Bureau of Automotive Repair’s (BAR) Referee Program.

Working to support consumers and the California Smog Check Program, BAR’s Referee Program has a statewide network of inspection centers that not only assists motorists with unusual Smog Check issues, but also provides specialized services not available through licensed Smog Check stations. Through this program, you can dispute the results of the test and get a third-party evaluation by the Referee.

Some of the Referee Program services include:

Repair Cost Waivers: If your vehicle fails its Smog Check and you had at least $650 in emission-related repairs done by a licensed Smog Check station and cannot afford the additional repairs, there is a one-time waiver available. The waiver allows the vehicle to be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Vehicles modified for use by disabled drivers: If your vehicle has been retrofitted for a wheelchair, or the steering and braking systems have been modified in a manner that make the vehicle difficult to test at a licensed Smog Check station, you can go to a Referee station.

Grey Market vehicles: If your car was imported into California and was not built to U.S. and California emission standards, your car is considered a “Grey Market” vehicle and will require an inspection at a Referee center.

Smog Check–exempt vehicles: Referee stations can inspect vehicles to verify Smog Check exemptions and issue Exempt Certificates.

Visit www.asktheref.org or call (800) 622-7733 to learn more details about the BAR Referee Program, find a Referee station, or to schedule an appointment. Please note there are vehicles—motorcycles and older gasoline or diesel vehicles—that are ineligible to be tested at Referee Program centers.

For more information about BAR, visit www.bar.ca.gov.

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