The Importance of Smog Checks

Smog checks and increased emissions regulations in cars have helped reduce the pollution and smog level in California. To help keep our air clean, over 10 million cars are inspected each year.

There are three types of smog check centers authorizedby the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) of California:

  • Test Only Stations are authorized ONLY to perform smog inspections and not to do any diagnostic or repairs.
  • Test and Repair Stations are authorized to perform BOTH smog inspections and repairs and retests if necessary.
  • Repair Only Stations are authorized ONLY to perform emissions-related repairs on vehicles.

If the station is part of the STAR program, that means it meets higher performance standards. There are some vehicles that must have their smog check performed at a STAR station. If your vehicle is among this group, it will be announced on on your Vehicle Registration Renewal Notice.

During the smog test the vehicle is given a thorough inspection of the following areas:

  • Emissions Control Components
  • Emissions Systems
  • Check Engine Light
  • Fuel System
  • On-board Diagnostic System
  • Tailpipe Emissions

The vehicle must pass all portions of the visual and functional inspections in order to pass inspection.

Will your vehicle need a smog check?

Yes if:

  • Your car is 1976 or newer and is gas-powered, hybrid, or flex-fuel.
  • Your car is 1998 or newer and is diesel-powered with a gross vehicle weight rating of 14,000 pounds or less.

No if:

  • Your car is six model-years old or newer and is not powered by diesel.
  • Your car is four model-years old and newer upon change of ownership and is not powered by diesel.

For more information on why these tests are important and the effect they have had on our pollution levels, take a look at this #AsktheAutoMan video featuring our very own Brian Bowersock.

Written by Brian Bowersock

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