Sacramento, California — The California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) is nearing implementation of a more stringent inspection program for rebuilt total loss salvaged vehicles.
Governor Gavin Newsom signed act AB 471 into law in 2021, which at the time, required BAR to create and implement the inspection program in development by January 1 of this year.
Previously, BAR held multiple public workshops where it received input about the program from the collision repair industry.
The new Vehicle Safety Systems Inspection (VSSI) program is replacing a brake and lamp inspection program in the state. All inspection requirements from old programs will be reviewed and incorporated into the new program, Jack Molodanof, California Autobody Association (CAA) attorney and lobbyist, said in an email.
Molodanof further noted that, “currently, to revive a total loss salvage vehicle for use on the public roads [the state] only requires a brake and lamp inspection, smog check and a California Highway Patrol inspection to make sure there are no stolen parts; nothing else.”
Other inspections, such as body structure, steering and suspension, tires and wheels and passenger compartments will be completed on the vehicles through the new program, Molodanof added. This process will involve onboard diagnostics and a road test.
Technicians working at VSSI stations must have Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification and pass an exam. Current brake and lamp stations will be grandfathered into the program if they meet the new requirements.
The VSSI regulations are currently pending approval by the California Office of Administrative Law and the approval is expected soon.
BAR has since released a three-part plan for rolling out the VSSI program last week. Phase one starts when the regulations take effect and will include licensing VSSI stations and technicians. Phase two will begin about three months after the regulations take effect and will include the start of VSSI inspections by stations and technicians. Lastly, phase three will begin about six months after the regulations take effect and will officially end the previous brake and lamp inspection program.
Andrew Batenhorst, CAA Glendale/Foothill Chapter president and body shop manager at Pacific BMW, said VSSI is important for consumers and shops.
“In California and most of the country, there are a lot of people who buy a salvaged vehicles from auctions, repair them — usually incorrectly — and put them back on the road,” Batenhorst said. “Now there is a program in place to check those vehicles and make sure they are safe to be on the road.”
Batenhorst said he’s interested to see what the data captured by the program is. “The data could help provide information about rebuilt salvaged vehicles.”