How Often Does The DMV Require Smog Inspections?

The DMV requires smog inspection for 90% of vehicles, biennially. Some vehicles registered in rural areas are only required to complete a smog inspection during Change-of-Ownership and initial registration in California.

To determine the type of smog check program you are in, you may call the Bureau of Automotive Repair at (800) 952-5210.

I Own A New Vehicle, When Will I Need Smog Check?

Vehicles four or six model years old and newer are not required to have a biennial Smog Check performed until their fifth/seventh year. However, these vehicles must have a Smog Check performed if the vehicle is sold or being registered in California for the first time during that time.

Do Older Vehicles Need Smog Checks?

Effective 04/01/05: Under the old law, 1975 and subsequent model year vehicles became exempt from Smog Check when they turned 30 years old. A 1976 model year vehicle was exempt in 2005, a 1977 in 2006, etc.

Under the new law, commenced April 1, 2005, exempt from smog check requirements are any motor vehicle manufactured prior to the 1976 model-year. All vehicles 1976 and newer vehicles will be tested according to state emission law. This law repeals the 30-year rolling exemption.

To determine your vehicle’s actual model year, you can check on the front driver side door jam for a decal indicating your vehicle’s production date and weight specifications.

Who Needs Smog Check?

There are three reasons to get a smog check:

Registration Renewal: Every two years on most vehicles you are required to get a smog check to renew your registration with D.M.V. Gasoline vehicles newer than 6 years old, hybrids, motorcycles, gasoline vehicles 1975 or older, and diesel vehicles 1997 and older are exempt from this requirement.

Change of Ownership Most vehicles need a smog check when they are bought or sold. Gasoline vehicles newer than 4 years old, hybrids, motorcycles, gasoline vehicles 1975 or older, and diesel vehicles 1997 and older are exempt from this requirement. Also, transfer of title between certain family members does not require a smog check.

Bringing in a car from out of state most cars coming from out of state seeking registration in California need to be smogged. Hybrids, motorcycles, gasoline vehicles 1975 or older, and diesel vehicles 1997 and older are exempt from this requirement.

BAR-OIS Equipment Requirements Beginning March 9, 2015:

• Smog Check stations must use an OBD Inspection System to test the following vehicles:
– 2000 and newer model-year gasoline powered vehicles (unless over 14,000 lbs. GVWR or those without OBDII)
– 1998 and newer diesel powered vehicles
– All hybrid vehicles (2000 and newer model year)
• The BAR-97 EIS must not be used to inspect the above vehicles.
• All STAR certified stations are required to have an OIS and BAR-97.
• Inspections must be performed per the 2013 Smog Check Manual. 2 BAR-O

1. Why are hybrids being brought into the Smog Check Program?

Hybrids are designed to meet strict emission standards and to provide improved fuel economy over conventional vehicles. However, hybrid emission control systems experience the same causes of long-term deterioration affecting other vehicles. Emission control system malfunctions on hybrids can cause emissions to sharply increase. By ensuring that hybrid emission-related problems are identified and then properly repaired, emission levels will remain low over the life of the vehicle.

Since their introduction to the California market in 2000, hybrid vehicles could not be properly tested on the BAR-97 equipment that was introduced in 1997. This equipment could not test the emissions of hybrids as the vehicles would switch into electric mode during an inspection. The new Bureau of Automotive Repair On-Board Diagnostic Inspection System (BAR-OIS), which is based on a visual inspection of emission control components and a scan of the vehicle’s On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) system, has resolved this testing issue.

2. When will hybrid inspections begin?

Change-of-ownership inspections and inspections for all out-of-state hybrid vehicles registering in California for the first time will require a Smog Check starting April 16, 2015. The Department of Motor Vehicles will also begin mailing registration renewal notices requiring a Smog Check to hybrid owners in April 2015 for registrations due in July 2015.

3. Which types of hybrids will be required to receive a Smog Check?

All hybrid vehicles will be subject to a Smog Check. Just like traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, hybrid vehicles six model-years and newer are exempt from the biennial Smog Check requirement. Hybrid vehicles four model-years and newer are also exempt from the change-of-ownership Smog Check requirement.

For more information, refer to BAR’s Smog Check Requirements by Vehicle Type table.

Some Things You Should Know About Smog Check in California

What is Smog Check?

The Smog Check Program is an important part of the State’s efforts to improve the air we breathe. Smog Check inspections are designed to identify vehicles with excess emissions so they can be properly repaired. The Program has greatly reduced air pollution created by millions of cars in California.

Who oversees the Smog Check Program?

The California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) administers the Smog Check Program. Vehicles are inspected each year by more than 7,000 State-licensed and independently owned stations located throughout the State.

Is my vehicle subject to a Smog Check?

Gasoline-powered vehicles, hybrid vehicles, and alternative-fuel vehicles that are model year 1976 and newer require a Smog Check, with the following exceptions: Six model-years and newer do not need a biennial (every other year) inspection.

Four model-years and newer do not need a change-of-ownership inspection.

To determine the first year a vehicle is subject to a biennial or change-of-ownership Smog Check, add six or four, respectively, to the model year of a vehicle. For example, a 2010 model-year vehicle will first be subject to a biennial Smog Check in 2016 (2010+6=2016) and a change-of-ownership Smog Check in 2014 (2010+4=2014).

Diesel-powered vehicles 1998 and newer with a gross vehicle weight rating of 14,000 pounds and less require a Smog Check.

Motorcycles and electric-powered vehicles are currently exempt from the Smog Check Program.

When is my vehicle required to have a Smog Check?

If your vehicle is subject to a Smog Check, your DMV registration renewal notice will indicate every other year that a Smog Check is required. A Smog Check inspection is also required when a vehicle is sold or when registering a vehicle for the first time in California.

How can I find a Smog Check station in my area?

Visit the station locator page or call (800) 952-5210.

Do I need to take anything with me to my Smog Check?

If your DMV registration renewal notice requires a Smog Check, remember to take the notice with you. This will help ensure that the correct vehicle information and test results are electronically sent to DMV.

What is a STAR station?

Some vehicles require a Smog Check at a STAR station. STAR stations must meet specified performance standards established by BAR. Some STAR stations are licensed to perform only tests, while others are licensed to perform both tests and repairs. The station is required to post a sign on the services it is licensed to perform.

How will I know if my vehicle needs a test at a STAR station?

Your DMV registration renewal form will indicate whether your vehicle requires a Smog Check at a STAR station.

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