Hao Nguyen, senior manager of legal affairs for KPA

Proper documentation, new regs critical to BAR compliance

Industry expert fields shop questions regarding BAR and service drive compliance

Sacramento, Calif.—Many shops and dealerships are registered with the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR), a division within the California Department of Consumer Affairs, but aren’t sure as to what it is and what it does, such as overseeing and regulating service departments, funded by the California State Legislature.

Hao Nguyen, senior manager of legal affairs for KPA — a business solutions provider for training and compliance audit services — was one of the main architects behind the company’s Service Drive Compliance audit program, which focuses on legal compliance in the automotive repair industry.

He presented, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know about BAR Service Drive Compliance,” a recent webinar, sponsored by the California Autobody Association, during which he fielded questions from shop owners and managers. The following is a sampling:

If a customer returns to a shop for a minor warranty repair, do we need to create a new repair order as if it was a new job even though there are no billable charges?

“The short answer is ‘Yes.’ Shops need to create an RO. It’s always been our position to first create an estimate and obtain a customer’s authorization before the vehicle is addressed, whether it’s conducting measurements on a wheel alignment or entering a key FOB into a computer for vehicle information. Whether it’s warranty work or a courtesy ‘no-charge,’ a zero dollar amount must be stated, which was specifically stated in the latest BAR Advisor Group meeting in October 2018.”


In your experience, do you find this to be a common oversight?

“In our candid conversations with service advisors and directors, it’s common to hear that they don’t generate estimates or ROs for warranty services or quick, courtesy-based services. If a repair order isn’t generated, it’s a violation of the Automotive Repair Act.

“Many compliance issues involve improper or a lack of documentation, generally speaking. Service advisors aren’t doing it on purpose, for the most part, because they haven’t been properly trained. Our KPA staff each have 20 years experience and have been BAR officials in the past, so they know exactly what to look for during on-site evaluations and inspections, most of which is spent on correcting documentation methodology. We can target issues to a specific service advisor and recommend training.”

 Are we required to create a work order for courtesy oil top-offs, tire pressure checks, etc.? If so, then must we document a CRB tire pressure check?

“Earlier in 2018, Assembly Bill 3141 was signed into law by the governor, updating the Automotive Repair Act, which created a ‘Preventative Maintenance Service.’ An oil top-off falls under this. The law now allows for an estimate not to be created for a Preventative Maintenance Service so long as (A): It’s performed free of charge; or (B) the total price of a service, including parts and labor and tax, is displayed on a sign in a location or manner that is acknowledged by a customer.

“Basically, if it’s a Preventative Maintenance Service, they don’t need to generate an estimate. However, shops still need to generate an invoice.

“If the Preventative Maintenance Service is coupled with a non-Preventative Maintenance Service, the Preventative Maintenance Service will have to be documented on the estimate. Having said that, tire pressure checks are required with every service and each tire’s PSI recorded.”


Are there any exceptions to the need to perform and properly document the state-mandated tire pressure check and inflation service on all vehicles?

“No. The only facilities that have an exception are auto body, glass installers, distributors and retailers, dismantlers or the like.

“Other than those, repair facilities, whether they are mom-and-pop or a service chain, need to document tire pressure-check inflation service. It’s mandated by law.”


We are being forced by insurance companies to use OE surplus and opt-OE. Can we do this?

“Under the assumption this is for collision shops, OE surplus and opt-OE is a tracking mechanism for insurance companies. A BAR chief has said that using OE surplus or opt-OE would be a violation of the Automotive Repair Act. You can only designate by OEM, non-OEM, refurbished or the like.”


How often do BAR regulations change?

“Not very often, but when they do, it’s usually substantial. The latest update to the regulations was 10 years in the making. 


What are the penalties for not following BAR regulations?

“It depends on how large the infraction is, if it was fraudulent, a misleading statement or representation.

“If a BAR official finds a pattern of infractions upon examination of ROs, then corrective measures could be refunding a customer on a specific repair, or conducting corrective repairs free of charge.

“If the violation is more egregious, then there’s possible suspension for one or two weeks, or probation, which could be two to three years.”

Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.