From Consumer Wiki
Smog Check Program
The Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) has been SUSPENDED until July 1, 2012. When the program resumes, it will offer two options to help California consumers whose vehicles fail their biennial (every other year) smog check.
The Economic Hardship Extention program will be offered to low income drivers until CAP is available in July 2012.
Qualified motorists can receive up to $500 in emissions-related repairs through CAP’s Repair Assistance Program.
The Vehicle Retirement Program is available to motorists who want to voluntarily retire their vehicle rather than repair it. Eligible consumers can receive $1000 in exchange for their vehicle.
Gold Shield Program
The Gold Shield Program is designed to make the Smog Check Program more convenient for motorists. It allows a licensed Smog Check station, which meets higher performance standards, to provide a variety of inspection and repair services to California motorists. In addition to its regular smog check inspection and repair services, Gold Shield stations can inspect and certify Directed Vehicles as indicated on the DMV renewal notice, issue certificates to Gross Polluters, and perform state subsidized repairs.
BAR's Enforcement team investigates general auto repair complaints and ensures that shops comply with Smog Check statutes. Each year BAR handles more than 14,800 complaints relating to auto repair and/or Smog Check inspections. BAR staff checks out every complaint and negotiates with the shop on the consumer's behalf to achieve a mutual agreeable resolution. The bulk of complaints are resolved by mediation. Each year BAR returns over $6.3 million to California consumers in the form of direct refunds, rework, or adjustments.
In order to comply with state law, the California Department of Consumer Affairs/Bureau of Automotive Repair (DCA/BAR) directs a portion of the vehicles registered in Enhanced Smog Check Areas to Test-Only or Gold Shield stations. Enhanced Areas are those parts of the state with "serious", "severe", or "extreme" ozone pollution problems. Test-Only facilities are licensed Smog Check stations that, by law, are only allowed sell gas caps or to test cars; they cannot repair them. Directed Vehicles may receive their initial inspections at Gold Shield stations. Any needed repairs must be performed at a Smog Check station designated either as a Test-Repair or Gold Shield station.
Government Fleets: Federal, State, County, City, and Special District agencies are required to participate in the Smog Check Program. The Federal Clean Air Act and the California Health and Safety Code, Section 44019, mandates that all affected vehicles receive a smog check inspection. These requirements include vehicles classified as emergency equipment. For a description of an affected vehicle see the “Information Sheet” in the Resources column to the right. Smog testing of vehicles owned by the Federal Government are addressed in ET Blast # 10641. For testing vehicles owned by Military Personnel refer to ET Blast # 10661.