Frequently Asked Questions (Part 1)
Question: I have a hybrid vehicle and my DMV renewal notice indicates that a smog inspection is required.
Answer: Hybrid vehicles are currently exempt from the smog check program. If you own a hybrid vehicle and your DMV renewal notice indicates that a smog inspection is required, it is most likely because the DMV record has the wrong motive power. To have the motive power on your DMV record corrected, take your vehicle to your local DMV Field Office.
Question: 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 smog checked in another state and send the results here?
Answer: Do not obtain a smog inspection in another state; it will not be valid here. You need not bring it back to California in order to complete your registration. Simply fill out and sign DMV's " Statement of Facts " form (you need the free Adobe Acrobat reader to download and print this form). The registration tags will be mailed to wherever the car is currently located.
Question: How long is a Smog Check certificate valid?
Answer: 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.
Question: Who is responsible for obtaining a Smog Check when a vehicle is sold?
Answer: 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.
Question: I just purchased a vehicle and the seller did not provide a Smog Check certificate. The vehicle needs repairs in order to pass. What should I do?
Answer: 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 court to recover your costs. Although the law clearly supports the buyer, collecting on a court judgment can be difficult. 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.
Question: I recently obtained a Smog Check certificate for my vehicle; now I'm selling it. Do I need have it Smog Check inspected again?
Answer: The California Vehicle Code Section 4000.1 (d)(1), specifies that a Smog Check certificate does not apply if "the initial application for transfer is submitted within the 90-day validity period of a smog certificate...". Therefore, if your vehicle received a Smog Check certificate within the last 90 days, another Smog Check inspection/certificate is NOT required for the transfer of ownership.
Question: Why am I being sent to a Test-Only or Gold Shield station? My car has never failed Smog Check.
Answer: Your car was most likely selected by the High Emitter Profile. This means that even though it may never have failed before, it has been identified through a computer-based selection process as a vehicle which is more likely than others to be emitting unhealthy levels of harmful pollutants. Another possibility is that it was selected via a 2 % random selection for program evaluation purposes. In either case, your vehicle has been designated as a Directed Vehicle.
Question: I have a motor home that is very heavy. Is it safe to use the dynamometer for the Smog Check inspection? What should I do?
Answer: Motor homes with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 8,501 pounds or more are 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 8,501 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. A State Referee facility can provide relief in these circumstances. Call the Referee Scheduling Center at 800-622-7733 and make an appointment at a Referee Facility. Take your invoice to the Referee. If the Referee inspector agrees, he or she will test the vehicle using a two speed idle test.
Question: What vehicle model years are required to get a biennial smog check?
Answer: For gas-powered vehicles the 1976 model year is the earliest model year vehicle required to
participate in the biennial Smog Check Program. Vehicles six years old and
newer are not required to participate in the biennial Smog Check Program.
For diesel-powered vehicles 1998 model year and newer 14,000lbs and less are subject to the biennial Smog Check Pragram. The six year exemption does not apply to diesel vehicles.
Question: My 1976 model year vehicle was built in 1975. Why isn't it exempt from Smog Check?
Answer: 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.
Question: I have a vehicle that is six model years old or newer. My DMV registration renewal notice says it must have a Smog Check, but I thought it was exempt from the biennial Smog Check requirement.
Answer: A gas-powered vehicle is excused from Smog Check until it is seven model years old. DMV computers are designed to recognize the exemption and process your renewal accordingly. Go back the DMV to resolve this problem. If you are unable to resolve the problem with DMV, the State Referee can help. Call the Referee Scheduling Center at 800-622-7733 and make an appointment at the nearest Referee facility. Note: A Smog Check certificate of compliance is required upon transfer of ownership for gas-powered vehicles that are older than four model years.
Question: I'm planning to register my vehicle as non-operational this time around. Do I still need a Smog Check?
Answer: 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.
Question: Why can't BAR lower the price of a Smog Check?
Answer: The Bureau of Automotive Repair does not set the price of smog inspections. 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. You can search our list of Active Smog Check stations by city, ZIP code and station type to find a station near you.
Question: What is an Enhanced Area?
Answer: An Enhanced Area is one which has been designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as not in attainment with federal health standards for ozone and are designated as an urbanized area. With some exceptions, vehicles registered in enhanced areas are subject to a loaded mode dynamometer emission test.
Question: Why do Smog Check stations use the dynamometer based equipment to conduct the two-speed idle test?
Answer: Not all vehicles are compatible with the dynamometer. Vehicles with full-time four wheel drive, with non-disengageable traction control, or with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating 10,000 pounds or greater (motor homes 8501 GVWR or greater), are not tested on the dynamometer.
Question: The technician says he cannot perform an ASM (dynamometer) smog test on my vehicle because the tires are worn out. Can he do that?
Answer: Yes, anytime the technician feels that the vehicle is not in good enough condition to safely complete a smog inspection, the technician should refuse to test the vehicle.