Who Regulates Car Dealerships In California?

Who Regulates Car Dealerships In California?

Auto dealerships are third-party businesses that buy and sell new, used, or salvaged cars to the public. These dealerships must be licensed by the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) of the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). The BAR is responsible for promoting the public’s health, safety, and general welfare through the regulation of the motor vehicle industry in California. This includes car dealerships.

But what about dealership employees? How are they regulated? Who watches out for consumers at auto dealerships?

Dealership employees fall under a good deal more scrutiny from various licensing boards. For example, those employed as salespeople must obtain a license from the state’s Department of Real Estate to present as real estate agents when doing deals with buyers. This is because real estate falls under the Department of Real Estate’s purview, while auto dealerships are addressed by the BAR. All employees must be licensed or registered with their governing agency.

The Bureau Of Automotive Repair 

Licensees are required to complete ongoing education requirements. If an employee at a dealership isn’t subject to ongoing licensing, they may not provide any services to the public. This includes salesmen and mechanics, but also managers and receptionists.

These licensees are all supposed to adhere to industry standards developed by each respective profession’s regulating board. The Bureau of Automotive Repair has adopted the California New Car Dealers Association’s Code of Ethics as its own. 

While these regulations don’t apply directly to customers, it does provide consumers with some protection against unethical business practices used throughout the car buying process.

The BAR does have authority over dealerships’ financial operations, meaning that there are procedures in place for filing complaints about dealerships’ financing activities or disputes over how much the dealership owes you on your trade-in.

The BAR does not maintain records of consumers’ complaints regarding dealerships, meaning that there is no central location to receive or track information regarding these issues. The Bureau of Automotive Repair prefers to address problems at the local level, meaning that consumers would need to contact their local Better Business Bureau (BBB).

The BBB will usually only take on a case if it has received more than one complaint about an individual dealer or if it can be shown that there’s a pattern of abuse among dealers within certain geographical areas. If the BBB accepts your complaint, they will advocate for you through nonbinding negotiations with the dealership where your issue originated. If this fails, the relationship may be forwarded to a different district attorney or law enforcement agency.

Please note that the BBB does not have any legal authority over dealerships. Their goal is to help you receive satisfaction with your purchase, but they do not have the ability to enforce their rulings as they are completely voluntary.

For more information on how to regulate car dealership employees, please contact Scott Law Group P.C. by giving us a call at (619) 345-5599.


Contact our Lemon Law experts today to get more information about Lemon Law in California. Call Scott Law Group P.C. at (619) 345-5599 in San Diego, CA.

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