New state STAR program has drivers confused on smog tests

New guidelines set for mechanic shops

SAN DIEGO - A new state program for smog emissions testers has phones ringing off the hook at area mechanic shops. Drivers said they have no idea what the program is, or how it affects their car tests.

The STAR program is a new way the Bureau of Automotive Repair designates smog check stations.

The shops now have to pass a stricter guidelines to get the new STAR certification, in order to do the smog tests on cars .

A BAR spokesperson told Team 10 the STAR certification is a way to tell consumers shops are doing proper inspections.

Renewal forms from the Department of Motor Vehicles used to tell drivers to go to "gold shield" stations. The new rules direct drivers to STAR stations.

Drivers told Team 10 the state could have done a better job explaining the new STAR certification program, which went into affect on January 1.

Greg Kelly said people keep calling his shop, Greg's Automotive, asking about the STAR program. "What the heck is a STAR station?" Kelly said people ask him.

"They are in a loss, they are in a panic and it's usually the day of the registration renewal being due," Kelly said.

Kelly's shop STAR certified. He said he likes the stricter rules.

"This new standard is to get consistency in the test, so they have consistency in the data." Kelly said. "They can tell from the data when somebody is not doing the job right."

The BAR spokesperson told Team 10 the agency worked with the DMV to inform drivers about the switch, and offered to do workshops with community organizations to explain the STAR program. Team 10 found out, no group in San Diego took the state agency up on the offer, so the renewal notice change confused drivers.

For answers to general questions on the STAR program, click here. (Mobile users: http://bit.ly/vbqSCh)

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