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California smog check website is WWW.SMOGCHECK.CA.GOV

Who needs a smog check?

Not all vehicles must get a Smog Check. Additionally, some vehicles only need a Smog Check when they are being sold or being registered in California after previously being registered in another state. Whether or not a vehicle needs a Smog Check depends on the type of vehicle, the model year, and the area in which the vehicle is registered.

Some vehicles are completely exempt

All 1975 and older model year vehicles are exempt from all aspects of the Smog Check program, but owners of these vehicles are required by law to keep their emissions systems intact. Vehicles built in 1975 for the 1976 model year are 1976 vehicles and must be tested accordingly. Additionally, vehicles with diesel engines, vehicles with two-cycle engines, vehicles with engines smaller than 50 cubic inches of displacement, electric vehicles, and motorcycles are exempt from the Smog Check program. Legislation enacted during 2004 made several changes in motor vehicle Smog Check exemptions that will become effective next year.

Following is a summary of the revised exemptions and the effective date of each change: Beginning January 1, 2005, vehicles 6 or less model-year old will be exempt from the biennial Smog Check inspection requirement. For vehicles with registration renewals due in the 2005 calendar year, this exemption includes model-years 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. Beginning January 1, 2005, vehicles 4 or less model-year old will be exempt from the Smog Check inspection requirement upon change of ownership and transfer of title transactions with DMV. In 2005, this exemption includes model-years 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. Beginning April 1, 2005, the 30-year rolling exemption will be repealed. Instead, vehicles 1975 model-year and older will be exempt. Therefore, 1976 model-year and newer vehicles will continue to be subject to biennial inspection indefinitely. Beginning April 1, 2005, vehicles being initially registered in California that were previously registered in another state will be exempt if the vehicle is a 1975 and older model-year vehicle. Newer vehicles, the first 6 model years, are not exempted upon initial registration in California. These vehicles are required to undergo a Smog Check Inspection.

How do I know if my vehicle needs a Smog Check?

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will note on your DMV Renewal Notice whether a Smog Check is required to reregister. In addition, an information insert explaining the Smog Check Program requirements will be included in that mailing.

No Smog Check required on sales within immediate family

Section 4000.1 (d)(2) of the California Vehicle code exempts transfers from parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, siblings, or spouses from the smog inspection requirement.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Q: My renewal notice says my car needs a Smog Check. But the car is out of state, and will not be back for many months. It’s too far to bring it back to California for a smog inspection. Can I get the car smogged in another state and send the results here?

A: Do not obtain a smog inspection in another state; it will not be valid here. Unless your vehicle is in Nevada or Mexico, you need not bring it back to California in order to complete your registration. The registration tags will be mailed to wherever the car is currently located.

Q: How long is a Smog Check certificate valid?

A: Section 44015 (e) of the California Health and Safety Code states that a Smog Check certificate of compliance or non-compliance is valid for 90 days.

Q: Who is responsible for obtaining a Smog Check when a vehicle is sold?

A: Section 24007 (b)(2) of the Vehicle Code states it is the responsibility of the seller to provide a valid smog certificate at the time of delivery of the vehicle. There is no provision in the law to sell a vehicle “as is.”

Q: I just purchased a vehicle and the seller did not provide a Smog Check. The vehicle needs expensive repairs in order to pass. What should I do?

A: Go back to the seller, inform them about Vehicle Code section 24007 (b)(2), and try to work things out amicably. If that fails, you have the option to pay for the repairs and the Smog check yourself, and then take the seller to Small Claims Court to recover your costs. Although the law clearly supports the buyer, collecting on a small claims judgment can be difficult, so the amicable solution is usually best. If the seller is a state-licensed auto dealer, buyers have the additional option of filing a complaint with the DMV, which regulates new- and used-car dealers.

Q: I recently smogged my vehicle; now I’m selling it. Do I need to smog it again?

A: According to Section 4000.1 (d)(1) of the California Vehicle Code, a car which has had a Smog Check and received a certificate of compliance in connection with an annual registration does not need to be smogged again when sold if the sale date is within 90 days of the registration renewal date.

Q: Why am I being sent to a Test-Only station? My car has never failed Smog Check.

A: Your car was most likely picked up in the High Emitter Profile. Even though it may never have failed before, it has been identified through a computer-based selection process as a vehicle which is likely to be emitting unhealthy levels of harmful pollutants. Or, it could be part of the 2 Percent Random Selection Program.

Q: I have a motor home. Is it safe to smog it on the dynamometer? What should I do?

A: Any vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR; fully loaded weight) of 10,000 pounds or more is excused from dynamometer testing. Your Smog Check technician will be able to give any such vehicle the two-speed idle test. Some motor homes with a GVWR of less than 10,000 pounds still may not be safe for dynamometer testing. If your Smog Check technician decides he or she cannot safely test your motor home on the dynamometer, they should write that on your invoice. Then, call the Referee Scheduling Center at 800-622-7733 and make an appointment at the nearest Consumer Assistance and Referee Center. Bring your invoice. The referee will be able to give you the two-speed idle test.

Q: My 1976 model year vehicle was built in 1975. Why isn’t it exempt from Smog Check?

A: Many 1976 model vehicles were built in 1975; however, the Smog Check exemption is based on model year, not date of manufacture, so these vehicles are not exempt.

Q: I have a vehicle that is four model years old or newer. My DMV registration renewal notice says it must have Smog Check, but I thought it was exempt from the biennial Smog Check requirement.

A: It is excused from its biennial Smog Check until it is five model years old. DMV computers will recognize the exemption and process your renewal accordingly. These cars must be smogged prior to a change of ownership, however.

Q: I’m planning to register my vehicle as non-operational this time around. Do I still need a Smog Check?

A: No, the Smog Check is only for operational vehicles. However, if you miss your biennial Smog Check while the vehicle is non-operational, you will be required to get a smog inspection prior to bringing the vehicle back to operational status.

Q: Why can’t BAR lower the price of a Smog Check?

A: The Bureau of Automotive Repair does not set the price of Smog Checks. Smog Check stations are privately owned and operated businesses, and as such, determine the fees for their time and expertise based on free-market forces. As with many other things, it pays to shop around for your Smog Check.

Q: What is an Enhanced Area?

A: An Enhanced Area is one which has been designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as an area which does not meet federal health standards for ozone.

Q: Why is Smog Check stations using the new equipment to conduct the old two-speed idle test?

A: Not all vehicles are compatible with the new dynamometer. Vehicles with full-time four wheel drive, with non-disengage able traction control, or with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of greater than 8,500 pounds, do not go on the dynamometer.

State authorized emission testing services available