Frequently Asked Questions

Logging in

Response: CARS comes with a default administrator password that is separate from the login information for the CARS website.The default administrator password can be found in the “Site Registration” section of the User Manual. After entering the default administrator credentials, you can change the administrator password.


Response: Registration on the CARS website is separate from the registration within the CARS software. The website registration allows the CARS Team to keep track of who our users are and helps us notify the CARS community about updates and bug fixes. The site registration within the CARS software tailors the user experience and is for data sharing purposes.


Response: You must backup your data before you update or reinstall a version of CARS. Additionally, we recommend that you backup you data on a regular basis. For detailed steps on how to backup your data please refer to the Quick Guides and/or chapter 3 of the User Manual.

Installing CARS

Response: Website registration is separate from site registration within the CARS tool. Website registration helps the CARS Team keep track of users and notify users about updates and bug fixes. Site registration within the CARS tool tailors the user experience and enables data sharing.

Response: If you have issues downloading the CARS executable file, please try downloading the Zip file. The Zip file is available as a separate link below the download button for Windows and Mac OS.

Response: If during the installation process you receive a dialogue box warning you about installing CARS, click “Yes,” “next,” or “run anyway” button to continue with the installation of CARS.

Response: The validation emails from CARS may take up to 5 minutes to send. Make sure you entered the correct email address, and check your spam folder. If you still don’t see an email, please contact us.

Response: If you attempt to install a CARS’ update and you get a pop-up dialogue box asking you to install it in a new directory, it is likely that the current version of CARS is still running in the background. Please restart your computer and attempt to install the update again. If you continue to experience issues with updating CARS, please Contact Us so we can help you resolve this issue.

Response: In a networked configuration, the main networked computer must to be running CARS for the secondary networked computer to be able to open CARS. If this is not possible, consider using multiple standalone configurations instead.


Response: The CARS database is password protected and contains specific fields (i.e. zip code) that are encrypted. Backup files are completely encrypted until restored in the database.

Response: There is no way to delete data from individual sessions. However, reinstalling CARS without restoring data will effectively erase all previous data.

Conducting Sessions

Response: You are logged into the administrator account, which cannot run assessments. Log out of the administrator account, select New CARS Session again, and log in with a different user account.

Response: CARS does not allow users to return to previous questions in a session or change their answers.

Response: There is currently no way to complete CARS assessments remotely. We are hoping to develop this feature in future versions of CARS. It is possible to administer CARS via video call (e.g., Skype) or over the phone.

Response: PDF versions of CARS modules are available here.


Response: Diagnostic reports show referral sites that are matched to a client’s zip code. The default referral database is empty. To use this feature, users must add information about known mental health, substance use, and emergency treatment referrals in their area to the referral database.

Response: There are a small number of referral agencies that are pre-entered into the CARS referral database. These agencies were identified during our national pilot testing phase in 2016. 


Response: Generated reports show referral sites that are matched to a client’s zip code. The default referral database is empty. All users are required to add information about known mental health, substance use, and emergency treatment referrals in their area to the referral database to use this feature. For detailed information about how to add referrals please refer to the Quick Guides and/or chapter 4 of the User Manual.


Response: CARS is designed so that it can be administered by anyone, regardless of qualifications. However, we highly recommend reading the User Manual and running some practice sessions to familiarize yourself with the program before working with clients.

Response: CARS is completely free to download and use.

Response: CARS can be used with adolescents, but CARS is currently developed specifically for adults aged 18 and older.

Response: CARS can be administered to anyone regardless of gender identity, and does not differentiate based on gender. CARS allows clients to identify as cisgender, transgender, or nonbinary.

Response: Currently there is no license agreement for CARS. We encourage users to use CARS as they see fit for their needs.