What Is Vehicle Smogging in California?

Most states have requirements for vehicle registration that you must do every year or every few years depending on your vehicle make and model. Vehicles are required to pass a state emission and inspection test, as well as a safety examination. Failure of either test requires a vehicle owner to correct the issues and then perform a re-test. Until a vehicle can pass the inspection, it won’t be able to be registered in the state. And in California, where emissions standards are the strictest, vehicles are required to pass a smog inspection.

What is a Smog Inspection?

California is the only state that is allowed by the federal government to create its own emission standards. With this authorization, California keeps the strictest requirements for a vehicle in an effort to combat air pollutants. With cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco contributing to the poor air quality, it’s no wonder why the state is strict on pollutants coming from cars.

What California Residents Have to Do

Similar to an emissions inspection in other states, vehicle owners must to take their cars into an official smog shop every year or two. Most shops in California have a smogging license to to accommodate customers appropriately. Whether you’re looking for a smog shop in Sacramento, San Diego, the Bay Area or Los Angeles, you should have no problem finding locations all around you. A licensed shop will use special tools to test the smog emitting from the car and then tell you if it passes or fails. Of course, if it fails, you’ll need to repair the issues and have it re-tested. Most shops offer a 30-day free re-test policy, but be sure to ask about this at the shop you take your car to.

Is a Smog Required Every Year?

This question depends on the vehicle’s make and model. Newer cars that have ecological features such as start and stop technology usually don’t have to pass a smog check every year. Your local DMV will tell you the policy based on your car’s make and model. If you have an older vehicle, you’ll likely need to pass a smog test every year.

What If I Just Bought My Car?

When you go to register your car with your local DMV, they will let you know if it needs a smog inspection. If you bought the car brand new, you are most likely fine and will not need a smog inspection. For a pre-owned vehicle, the DMV will tell you when the car was last smogged. If it’s been a few years, you’ll need to take it to a shop and pass a smog inspection before you can successfully register it.

What If I Just Moved to California?

Before you can register your vehicle in the state of California, you’ll need to pass a smog test. Even if you just had the car’s emissions completed recently in the state you moved from, you’ll still need to abide by California’s pollution standards and therefore, its smog policy. Plan to take your vehicle to the DMV soon after you move into the state. They will tell you what you need to do specifically for your vehicle.

Author’s Notes

It doesn’t seem likely that California will loosen up on emissions restrictions anytime soon. Prepare to have your vehicle smogged as directed by your DMV and consider an eco-friendly car the next time you’re in the market for a new car. You’ll save money on smog and emissions tests, and you’ll help reduce air pollution in the long run.

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