Q. When do I have to get a smog inspection?A. Per the California Department of Motor Vehicles, smog inspections are required every 2 years for all vehicles with a few exceptions.
Vehicle owners are required to provide proof of a smog certification every other renewal period. If the DMV does not receive proof of a current smog certification, a vehicle owner can still renew their registration and pay the associated fees to prevent paying late fees but will not receive their updated registration or registration sticker until proof of smog certification has been received by the DMV.
However, vehicle owners who have vehicles that are less than 7 model years old will be required to pay a smog abatement fee – approximately $20.00 – for the first 6 registration years instead of being required to provide a smog certification.
Q. What vehicles are required to get biennial Smog Inspections?A. Currently, smog inspections are required for all vehicles except:
- Electric powered
- Gasoline powered vehicles with a model year of 1975 or older
- Diesel powered vehicles with a model year 1997 and older with a Gross Vehicle Weight rating (GVWR) of 14,000 pounds or more
- Natural gas powered vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight rating (GVWR) of 14,000 pounds or more
Q. Where can I get my vehicle smog tested?A.Based on the information provided on your Registration Renewal Notice, if your vehicle requires a Smog Certification, you Renewal Notice will clearly indicate whether or not you need to take your vehicle a Smog Certification Station or a STAR Smog Certification Station. Use the following links for additional assistance in finding the correct type of station that is closest to you: Decode Your DMV Smog Check Renewal Notice here: http://www.bar.ca.gov/01_ConsumerActivities/01_GettingSmogged/index.html Where to find your nearest Smog Check Station: http://www.bar.ca.gov/pubwebquery/station/stationlist.aspx
Q. What are the different types of Smog Check Stations?A. The Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) licenses and contracts with 4 main types of Smog Check Stations. Each station is required to clearly display a sign so that they are quickly and easily identifiable. The types of Smog Check Stations include:
- Smog Check Station: These are the regular smog check locations that are not STAR Certified. They may or may not preform both testing and repairs and some may or may not accept Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) repairs.
- STAR Stations: There are three types of STAR Stations – Test-Only Stations, Repair-Only Stations, and Test -and-Repair Stations. All of these types of stations are required by the state and by BAR to meet a very specific set of performance standards. The type of the STAR Station is clearly posted on a sign which indicates what type of STAT Station the facility is.
A test only smog center is differentiated from a test and repair smog center because the test only center is not authorized to perform vehicle repairs. As a result, if your vehicle fails the smog test at a test only smog center, you will have to find a test and repair facility. Often the test and repair center will charge for another smog test as part of the diagnostic process.
- Referee Centers: These are state-contracted locations which provide additional specialized inspection services. Referee locations provide assistance to consumers who have vehicles that have failed the Smog Check, can issue repair cost waivers, mediate in certain situations when there is a dispute between a customer and a smog center, and can offer special certification for grey market vehicles, custom built vehicles, modified engine vehicles, and Limited Parts Exemptions vehicles.More Information on Smog Check Station Types: http://www.bar.ca.gov/80_BARResources/02_SmogCheck/Station_Types.html
Q. What is the difference between a Test-Only Smog Center and a Test & Repair Smog Center?A. A test only smog center is differentiated from a test and repair smog center because the test only center is not authorized to perform vehicle repairs. As a result, if your vehicle fails the smog test at a test only smog center, you will have to find a test and repair facility. Often the test and repair center will charge for another smog test as part of the diagnostic process.
Q. What do I need to bring with me to my Smog Check?A. Be sure to bring your DMV Registration renewal from with you when getting your Check performed. Having this with you at the time of the test will serve to make sure that all of the vehicle information is correct and that the test results are sent directly to the DMV electronically.
How much does it cost to get a Smog Check?
A. The cost for a Smog Inspection varies depending on where and what type of station you take your car to for the check. It is definitely advisable to make a few calls to local Smog Check stations and compare pricing. Also do your research online and see if any coupons are available.Sources: http://www.dmv.ca.gov/vr/smogfaq.htm#BM2539 http://www.smogcheck.ca.gov/