Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Sacramento, CA Makes DIY Auto Repairs Illegal

Sacramento, CA Makes DIY Auto Repairs Illegal

If you’re a car aficionado who lives in California or Sacramento for that matter, you might want to think about moving.

A few years ago California passed laws limiting the modifications that can be done to a car’s exhaust. The state also has plans to outlaw the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles in the state by 2035. Now Sacramento County has taken an extra step. A new law passed by the county will limit the kinds of repairs car owners can do to their vehicles.

The new code defines allowed “minor repairs” as follows:

Minor adjustments, service, and repairs to automobiles or other passenger vehicles. Examples include but are not limited to: radiator, transmission, muffler, and brake repair, lubricant shops, diagnosis and tune-up, smog inspection, auto glass repair and installation, automotive seat covers, and re-upholstery, tire sales and service, and car washes. Shall not include body and engine work as defined in “Major Automobile Repair.” (See Section 7.3 of the Zoning Code).

-Code Enforcement Sacramento

In summation, this law keeps car enthusiasts from completing more complex repairs which are outlined as jobs that would leave the vehicle inoperable for more than 24 hours. However more simple tasks like oil changes, tune-ups, tire changes, and brake changes, are allowed.

In addition, you are not allowed to work on another person’s vehicle. Also, work done on any vehicle must be completed at the home the vehicle is registered to. Talk about red tape.

The new law also limits the use of many specialized tools for some reason too. The thing is many of these “specialized” tools are in fact common sights in garages. Restricted tools include air compressors, impact wrenches, and even tools as simple as torque wrenches. The law further defines these items as “tools not normally found in a residence.”


The new law even puts restrictions on commonly used tools like torque wrenches.

Even more troubling is the law’s vagueness on restricted parts and tools. For example, regular disc brake changes are fine according to the law while drum brakes, common on older vehicles, are not mentioned in the code. So this means somebody changing the drum brakes on their classic Camaro might find themselves in some hot water if they’re not careful.

An online explainer on the code says that the law is supposed to decrease the release of pollutants as well as maintain property values as some deem the sight of auto repairs in residential areas an eyesore.

“The chemicals involved in major automobile repair can pollute our neighborhoods and endanger the health and wellbeing of our residents,” reads the statement. “Furthermore, this kind of activity increases vehicle traffic and the visual impact can negatively impact property value.”

Many are wondering how these laws will be enforced. One member of the Grassroots Motorsports forum claims he has already been fined $430 for violating the code.

“I have not been left alone, they levied a $430 fine yesterday. You can request a hearing to review the code enforcement decision, which costs $700 to complain,” he wrote.

It sounds as if Sacramento County has turned into a giant HOA. Proponents of the law argue that it is meant to prevent, scammy, fly-by-night shops from popping up in residential areas, but so far mainly personal car owners have felt the weight of the new code.