More Information on Smog Testing

Smog testing at ACA

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Death, taxes and smog tests, the three absolutes of California. Not every state in America requires emissions tests, but many do, and if you’re not sure whether yours does or not, you can consult the DMV’s handy guide to find out. (More than likely, they’ll let you know via snail mail, but it always helps to be prepared.)

This article covers the basics of smog testing in California. Here, testing is required of all vehicles except:

  • Motorcycles
  • Trailers
  • Hybrid vehicles
  • Electric vehicles
  • Gasoline-powered vehicles manufactured in or prior to 1975
  • Diesel-powered vehicles manufactured in or prior to 1997
  • Diesel-powered vehicles weighing over 14,000 pounds
  • Natural gas powered vehicles weighing over 14,000 pounds

If your vehicle matches any of the above then you are exempt from a smog certification. This chart from the California DMV lists which areas in the state are required to undergo a biennial inspection (and, most importantly, submit evidence of it to the DMV). If you own a vehicle that is no more than six model years old, you can pay an annual smog abatement fee instead of certifying.

When your yearly registration comes due, the DMV will issue you a smog certification reminder. If you cannot certify your car before your registration is due, you can still pay your registration fee so as not to incur late charges. However, you will not be issued your new registration or sticker until the DMV receives evidence of your smog certification.

A quick internet search will show you the stations nearest you, and it’s a good idea to call around to see who can give you the best price. (Of course, if you’re in the neighborhood, might we suggest the seasoned professionals at ACA Automotive?) Once your car is approved the certification is good for 90 days, though most good smog stations will issue your certification to the DMV automatically.

Bear in mind, if you are buying or selling a vehicle, the seller is responsible for having a valid smog certification at the time of the sale as well as a responsibility to present it to the buyer. A seller is only exempt from this duty if a smog certification was submitted to the DMV within ninety days of a sale or transfer. Gasoline-powered vehicles four or less model years old are also exempted.