The air quality in California has deteriorated significantly over the years. Several factors play a role in increasing air pollution, and vehicle emissions are the major ones. The state of California developed the Smog Check program in 1984 to ensure that vehicles aren’t emitting harmful gasses. Getting your vehicle tested is essential if you want to drive in California without paying hefty fines.
Here is our guide to the California Smog Check requirements.
What is a smog check?
A smog check is a state-sponsored program under the Clean Air Act designed to identify vehicles with excessive tailpipe emissions. It aims to remove vehicles that cause pollution from the road and help owners determine the issues with their cars.
If your car fails the smog check, you won’t be able to complete your vehicle’s registration renewal, and without it, you cannot legally drive your car in California.
How much would it cost for a smog check?
On average, getting your vehicle smog tested can cost anywhere between 30 to 60 dollars. You can get your car smog tested at any state-licensed or privately-owned smog check station in the state. There are over 7000 stations that administer smog tests accredited by the California Department of Consumer Affairs Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR).
Who needs to get a smog check?
Any gasoline, hybrid, light natural gas, and flex-fuel vehicle manufactured in 1976 or later is supposed to get a smog check. You need to get your car smog checked every year until the car is older than six years. It is also essential during the transfer of ownership if the vehicle is older than four years.
What to expect during a smog check?
Here’s what happens when you take your car for a smog check.
- A visual inspection of emission control systems and individual components to ensure everything is working perfectly.
- Functional inspection of the OBD.
- The car’s exhaust is analyzed when the vehicle runs on a stationary dynamometer.
- The engine light, ignition timing, exhaust gas recirculation system, fuel evaporative system, and gas cap are also checked to ensure everything is in order.
How to prepare your car for a smog check?
If you take your car for a smog check without any preparation, it can take a long time to get tested. You may also fail the test. Here are some tips to prepare your vehicle for a smog check.
- Clear the check engine light: Before you go, ensure that your vehicle’s check engine light isn’t on.
- Change the oil: If your car’s oil change is due, get it done before you take it for a smog check.
- Drive at highway speeds: Before you take the car for inspection, drive it at highway speeds for at least 20 minutes.
- Get a pre-inspection: It helps you correct anything wrong before the final inspection.
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