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The letter from the BAR (Bureau of Automotive Repair) arrived today. Now we have what we need to make our repair appointment.
In case you missed the previous post, we went for our smog check and failed. A diagnostic was run and we were told the catalytic converter needs to be replaced. The repair shop (that we will never go back to again) told us they found a part for $3000. We told them we were taking our business elsewhere and I promptly went online to do my own research.
That’s how I found the Bureau of Automotive Repair website, which is the official site for the state of California. You can find out information about emissions requirements, licensed repair shops and whether they’ve had any complaints or actions taken against them, and the steps for getting assistance in finding a rare part for a vehicle that has failed smog. I found them to be very helpful and efficient. This is not an instant process–you have to call and go through intake, and then wait 3-5 business days for a call back from a referee. But the referee came back with an after-market part that was not listed anywhere, and we found a local shop where the part and labor are about 1/3 of the price we were quoted for just the part from the other place.
When you’re using a part that isn’t listed as approved in the official database that the shops have access to, a good shop will require proof that installing the part is allowed. So we had to wait for that proof to arrive, and it comes in the form of an exemption denial letter. This simply means that a part for your vehicle’s required repairs does exist, so you cannot be deemed exempt from making repairs. It lists the approved part, where you can buy it from, and information about your vehicle.
I have researched a shop that I feel is a good choice. I’ve already confirmed with the owner that he has a lift that he can use to work on our rig. He said he can get us in with just a couple days’ notice. Which is good, because a couple of days is all we have left before we’re supposed to leave!
Our plan is to call tomorrow morning and see what he has available for next week. If things go well, the repairs should only take a few hours and we won’t need a hotel room, rental car or anything else. Once that’s done, the next step will be to see about a referee appointment, but I’m going to take this one step at a time. We’ll let you know how it goes!