FAQ

1. What is a Smog Check?

The Smog Check Program is an important part of the State’s efforts to improve the air we breathe. Smog Check inspections are designed to identify vehicles with excess emissions so they can be properly repaired. The Smog Check Program has greatly reduced air pollution created by millions of cars in California. According to the California Air Resources Board, the program removes about 400 tons of smog-forming pollutants from California’s air every day.

2. Is my vehicle subject to Smog Check?

Gas-powered vehicles 1976 and newer require a Smog Check, with the following exceptions:

  • Vehicles six model years and newer do not need a biennial (every other year) inspection.
  • Vehicles four model years and newer do not need a change-of-ownership inspection.
  • Diesel-powered vehicles 1998 and newer with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) up to 14,000lbs also require a Smog Check.
  • Motorcycles and electric-powered vehicles are currently exempt from the Smog Check Program.

3. How often does my vehicle have to be tested?

If your vehicle is subject to Smog Check, it must be tested every other year. An inspection is also required if you sell a vehicle and when registering a vehicle for the first time in California.

4. Do I need to take anything with me to my Smog Check?

Remember to take your Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) registration renewal form with you when getting a Smog Check. This will help ensure that the correct vehicle information and test results are electronically sent to DMV.

5. What is a STAR station?

Some vehicles require a Smog Check at a STAR station. STAR stations must meet specified performance standards established by the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR). Some STAR stations are licensed to perform only tests, while others are licensed to perform both tests and repairs. The station is required to post a sign on the services it performs.

6. How will I know if my vehicle needs a test at a STAR station?

Your DMV registration renewal form will indicate whether your vehicle must be inspected at a STAR station.

7. How much does a Smog Check cost?

The cost of a Smog Check inspection varies. Check around on station prices and to see if any coupons are available. Click here for our coupon deal!

8. How can I help my vehicle pass the Smog Check?

Performing regular and proper vehicle maintenance according to your owner’s manual and not tampering with the emissions control equipment are keys to passing the Smog Check. If the Check Engine light comes on, take your vehicle to a licensed repair station as soon as you can to have the problem diagnosed. Consult your owner’s manual for repairs that may be covered under your emissions warranty.

9. What if my vehicle fails the Smog Check?

In order to complete your registration, you will need to obtain repairs necessary for the vehicle to pass a Smog Check retest. Before beginning repairs, you may want to find out if you are eligible for the Consumer Assistance Program (CAP).

10. Are programs available to help if my vehicle fails?

Yes. The Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) offers both repair assistance and vehicle retirement to eligible consumers whose vehicles fail Smog Check. To obtain a CAP application for either repair assistance or vehicle retirement, visit smogcheck.ca.gov or call 800.952.5210.

Vehicle Retirement
Vehicle not worth repairing? You could receive up to $1,500. For more information on vehicle retirement click here or call 866.272.9642.

Repair Assistance
Failed Smog Check? You may qualify for up to $500 in emissions related repairs for your vehicle. For more information on repair assistance click here or call 866.272.9642.

Referee Centers
Trouble getting a Smog Check certificate? Referee Centers can assist you with disputes from a previous Smog Check, inspections of unusual vehicles, and locating hard to find emissions parts. For more information on Referee Centers click here or call 800.622.7733.