FAQs

1) How long will my smog check take?

It depends. The fastest we have done a smog check is 8 minutes, and the longest was between 45 minutes-1 hour. Most vehicles (approx. 80%) take between 15-20 minutes for a smog test. However, depending on the vehicle type, year, and model, the inspection can take longer. Things that can take longer are: vehicles that have engine parts in hard to reach places, vehicles required by the state to have additional testing, and certain vehicles that cause a “glitch” in the computer and require that the test be done more than once. However, we have been in business since 2003, have performed over 50,000 smog checks, and have experienced technicians that will do everything possible to get you out as quickly as they can.

2) When is the best time of day to come?

We don’t actually know. One day we will have 0 people for an hour, and at the same time the next day, we will have 5 people. The best way to limit your waiting time is to use our online booking system. This will insure that you are first in line when you arrive. If you prefer to just come by the shop, we typically find that mornings (before 10:00 AM) are slower.

3) Are you a STAR station?

Yes, we are STAR certified and licensed to perform a smog check on any vehicle. The STAR program was started on Jan. 1, 2013. It was designed by the state to identify the vehicles that are most likely to have high emissions. These vehicles are directed to STAR stations. STAR stations are continously monitored by the state to insure that both the station and the technicians are the most qualified to perform smog checks.

4) Does my car need a smog check?

Smog inspections are generally required during a vehicle’s initial registration in California and once every two years thereafter. This inspection cycle will continue for as long as the vehicle is registered in this state. Smog inspections are also required any time a vehicle is sold or bought in California. During a title transfer, the Department of Motor Vehicles will not allow a vehicle to be registered unless a valid smog certificate is presented. There are also special testing procedures for vehicles which are classified as “gross polluters.” These include test only and state referee inspections. If your vehicle requires a test only or referee inspection, your DMV paperwork will advise you of it. The Smog Check Program applies to 1976 and newer passenger vehicles and trucks powered singly or in combination by:

  • Gasoline
  • Propane
  • Natural gas
  • Methanol/ethanol fuels

5) Does my vehicle qualify for a smog exemption?

Smog inspections are required unless your vehicle is:

  • A hybrid
  • A 1975 year model or older
  • Diesel powered
  • Electric
  • Natural gas powered and has a gross vehicle weight rating of 14,001 lbs. or more
  • A motorcycle
  • A trailer

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

The seller is required to provide the buyer with a valid smog inspection certificate at the time of the sale or transfer. Smog certifications are good for 90 days from the date of issuance. The inspection is not required on a transfer if a biennial smog certification was submitted to the DMV within 90 days prior to the vehicle transfer date (a vehicle inspection report may be required for proof of certification).

Smog certifications are also not required for transfers of any motor vehicle that is four or less model years old. You can determine the oldest qualifying year model by subtracting three from the current year. A smog transfer fee will be collected from the new owner.

7) What if my car fails the inspection?

The DMV cannot provide technical information or advice in this area. We recommend that you call the Bureau of Automotive Repair’s (BAR’s) toll free number at: 1-800-952-5210 to learn more about their Consumer Assistance Program. You may be eligible for the Repair Assistance Program (and receive up to $500 in emissions related repairs) or the Voluntary Accelerated Vehicle Retirement Program (also known as the Old Car Buy Back Program).

8) Which counties require a smog inspection for a registration renewal?

Counties that Require a Smog Inspection for Vehicle Registration Renewal
Alameda Butte Colusa Contra Costa Fresno
Glenn Kern Kings Los Angeles Madera
Marin Merced Monterey Napa Nevada
Orange Sacramento San Benito San Francisco San Joaquin
San Luis Obispo San Mateo Santa Barbara Santa Clara Santa Cruz
Shasta Solano Stanislaus Sutter Tehama
Tulare Ventura Yolo Yuba

There are six counties that require smog certifications within certain zip codes only. These counties are: El Dorado, Placer, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Sonoma.

9) Is there a military exemption from a smog inspection?

No, a smog inspection certification is also required for military personnel.

10) My car is new. Am I still required to get the biennial smog inspection?

Vehicles registered in areas subject to the Biennial Smog Certification Program are required to submit evidence of a smog certification every other renewal period. Starting January 1, 2005, owners of vehicles six or less model years old will pay an annual smog abatement fee for the first six registration years, instead of being required to provide a biennial smog certification. The registration renewal notice mailed to you by the DMV will indicate if a smog certification is required. If a smog certification is required and you have not had a smog inspection, you may still pay your registration fees to avoid any late fees. However, you will not receive your new registration or year sticker until the smog information has been received by DMV.
Please note: Upon initial registration, nonresident and specially constructed vehicles made in 1976 and newer require smog certification. The six or less model years old rule does not apply to these vehicles.

11) A family member gave me a car. Is a smog inspection required?

If you acquire a vehicle that is currently registered in California from a spouse, domestic partner, sibling, child, parent, grandparent, or grandchild, you are entitled to an exemption from a smog inspection. Other family members or relations are not exempt, and are required to obtain a smog inspection certification.