Who needs a smog check?

There are three common reasons to get a smog check. The first is registration renewal. For most vehicles, every two years they are required to get a smog check in order to renew your registration with the DMV.

The second reason is if your car was recently bought or sold. In this case, it is the seller’s responsibility to have the vehicle inspected within 90 days of the transaction. If the vehicle is not registered within those 90 days after being smogged, it will need to be inspected again.

Finally, your car might need its smog checked if you are bringing it from out of state. Most cars coming from outside of California and seeking to be registered in this state need to be smogged.

When a car is sold, who is responsible for the inspection?

The seller is required to provide the buyer with a valid smog inspection certification at the time of the sale or transfer. Smog certifications are good for 90 days after the date the certification was issued.

This inspection is not always required if a biennial smog certification was submitted to the DMV within the 90 days before the vehicle transfer date.

Do I need to smog my diesel vehicle?

Maybe. Diesel vehicles pre-1975 are not required for testing. Those afterward have their own tests to determine if they pass the smog check.

What’s different about a test-only smog?

Test-only stations do not perform repairs, adjustments, or refer motorists to a specific repair location. Basically, this means we only perform smog tests. This test is the same at all licensed smog test stations. “Test-only” does not mean it is a stricter smog check.

How do you test for smog?

For vehicle make and models prior to 1975, no test is required.

Vehicles made between 1975 to 1999 are required to take the Dynometer smog test, which uses the BAR-97 Emissions Inspection System (EIS) to simulate driving conditions to detect oxides of nitrogen, hydrocarbons, and carbon monoxide emissions.

In model-year 1997 or older cars, we may also use the evaporation test. Our technicians fill the gas tank with nitrogen, letting it sit for a certain amount of time to check that no leaks are present. This kind of test may come with an additional charge at smog test-only centers.

Automotives built in 2000 or later are tested on the BAR-OIS or BAR On-Board Diagnostic Inspection System. This system is required to inspect most model-year 2000 and newer gasoline vehicles, hybrid vehicles, and alternative-fuel vehicles, as well as most model-year 1998 and newer diesel automotives. The BAR-OIS consists of a certified Data Acquisition Advice (DAD) paired with off-the-shelf equipment including a computer, bar code scanner, and printer. In this test, we use the OBD2 connection to look at emissions software and check the last time the program was changed, to prevent chip tuning.

For any four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicles, the state requires a two-speed idle test (TSI). This test measures through the tailpipe to determine the level of emissions when the vehicle is idle. The measurement is taken both at low and high speed.

RVs are tested depending on their weight. Any over 14,501 lbs. are required to use the TSI test. Those 14,050 lbs and under can be tested using the BAR-OIS. For any model-year 1999 or older, they will always be tested using the TSI.

What happens if my car fails a smog check?

If your vehicle does fail to pass its inspection, take it to a local test and repair station to have the necessary repairs performed. It’s important you take your vehicle to a licensed smog repair station. They should have the right tools, test equipment and knowledge to fix it.

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