Most vehicles in California are required to pass a Smog Check every two years for registration renewal. Your DMV Registration Renewal Notice will indicate if your vehicle needs a Smog Check. You may take your vehicle to any Smog Check station, unless it requires a Smog Check at a STAR station.
STAR stations are Smog Check stations that meet higher performance standards established by the Bureau of Automotive Repair. 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.
State law requires that a percentage of vehicles have their Smog Check Inspections performed at a STAR station. If your DMV renewal notice states your vehicle requires a Smog Check at a STAR station, you must take your vehicle to a STAR station for an inspection. AUTO RESEARCH IS A STAR STATION.
What vehicles require a Smog Check?
Gasoline-powered vehicles, hybrid vehicles, and alternative-fuel vehicles that are model year 1976 and newer require a Smog Check, with the following exceptions:
- Six model-years and newer do not need a biennial (every other year) inspection.
- Four model-years and newer do not need a change-of-ownership inspection.
To determine the first year a vehicle is subject to a biennial or change-of-ownership Smog Check, add six or four, respectively, to the model year of a vehicle. For example, a 2010 model-year vehicle will first be subject to a biennial Smog Check in 2016 (2010 + 6 = 2016) and a change-of-ownership Smog Check in 2014 (2010 + 4 = 2014).
Diesel-powered vehicles 1998 and newer with a gross vehicle weight rating of 14,000 pounds and less require a Smog Check.
Motorcycles and electric-powered vehicles are currently exempt from the Smog Check Program.
Selling my car?
Who is responsible for getting a Smog Check performed when a vehicle is being sold?
California Vehicle Code section 24007(b)(2) states that it is the responsibility of the sellerto provide a valid smog certificate at the time of delivery of the vehicle to the buyer.
Do I need a Smog Check if I’m selling my vehicle and recently had it tested to renew its registration in California?
California Vehicle Code section 4000.1(d)(1) specifies that a Smog Check certificate is not needed upon changing ownership if the application for transfer is submitted to DMV within 90 days of the vehicle receiving a Smog Check certificate. Therefore, if your vehicle received certification of a passing Smog Check within 90 days of the sale, another Smog Check certificate is not required to transfer ownership.
What should I take to the Smog Check station?
If you are renewing your registration, you only need to take your vehicle, your Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Registration Renewal Notice, and a method of payment for the Smog Check.
What happens during a Smog Check?
While performing a Smog Check, the licensed inspector will connect testing equipment to your vehicle. This equipment is connected to computers at the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR).
If the vehicle passes the test, the vehicle information and test results are electronically transmitted to the DMV. The staff at the Smog Check station will provide you with a receipt and a copy of the test results, known as a Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR). The certificate is good for 90 days.
What do I do next?
If your vehicle passes Smog Check, you may continue your vehicle registration with the DMV. Although test results are submitted electronically to the DMV, it’s a good idea retain your VIR paperwork in case the electronic transmission was not received by the DMV.
If your vehicle fails a Smog Check, you have several options to meet your Smog Check obligations.
If you choose to have your vehicle diagnosed and repaired, keep in mind that all emission-related repairs to correct a smog test failure must be performed by a licensed Smog Check repair technician at a licensed Smog Check repair station.
After repairs are completed, you may have your vehicle re-tested at any Smog Check station. If your vehicle requires an inspection at a STAR station, you must have your vehicle re-tested at a STAR station.