Smog Check

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The Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) is available at Patterson Auto Care for motorists who need financial assistance (up to $500) making repairs to their vehicle when it fails a biennial (every other year) Smog Check.

Do I really need a smog check?

Not all vehicles must get a Smog Check. Additionally, some vehicles only need a Smog Check when they are being sold or being registered in California after previously being registered in another state. Whether or not a vehicle needs a Smog Check depends on the type of vehicle, the model year, and the area in which the vehicle is registered.

Some vehicles are exempt from the Smog Check program.

Legislation enacted during 2004 made several changes in motor vehicle Smog Check exemptions that became effective in 2005. Following is a summary of the revised exemptions and the effective date of each change:

As of January 1, 2005, vehicles 6 or less model-years old are exempt from the biennial Smog Check inspection requirement. For vehicles with registration renewals due in the 2005 calendar year, this exemption includes model-years 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005.

As of January 1, 2005, vehicles 4 or less model-years old are exempt from the Smog Check inspection requirement upon change of ownership and transfer of title transactions with DMV. In 2005, this exemption includes model-years 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005.

As of April 1, 2005, the 30-year rolling exemption are repealed. Instead, vehicles 1975 model-year and older are exempt. Therefore, 1976 model-year and newer vehicles continue to be subjected to biennial inspection indefinitely.

As of April 1, 2005, vehicles that are initially registered in California that were previously registered in another state areexempt if the vehicle is a 1975 and older model-year vehicle. Newer vehicles, the first 6 model years, are not exempted upon initial registration in California. These vehicles are required to undergo a Smog Check Inspection.

Vehicle Exemptions:

Change of Ownership Areas vs. Basic and Enhanced Areas

Most areas of the state require vehicles to have a Smog Check performed every two years, when being sold, and when being initially registered in California. These areas are referred to as the state's Basic and Enhanced Areas. However, Change of Ownership Areas only require a Smog Check when the vehicle is being sold or initially registered in California. You can determine the Smog Check area you are in by calling the Department of Consumer Affairs/Bureau of Automotive Repair toll-free at 1-800-952-5210 or by checking the ZIP Code Locator on their Web site.

How do I know if my vehicle needs a Smog Check?

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will note on your DMV Renewal Notice whether a Smog Check is required to reregister your vehicle. In addition, an informational insert explaining the Smog Check Program requirements should be included in that mailing.

No Smog Check required on sales within immediate family.

Section 4000.1 (d)(2) of the California Vehicle Code exempts from the change of ownership Smog Check requirement vehicles being sold or transferred between certain family members, such as parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, siblings, or spouses.

Current law exempts vehicles 30-model-years old and older from the Smog Check program.

How to Certify a Gross Polluter

If your vehicle is tested and fails as a Gross Polluter, you must have it repaired and then have another Smog Check inspection to certify those repairs. A Gross Polluter may only be certified at either a Test-Only station or a Gold Shield station. Test-Only stations are prohibited by law from performing diagnosis or repairs of any kind.

Gold Shield stations are licensed to perform official smog inspections and repairs, issue certificates to Gross Polluters, perform state-subsidized repairs, and perform the "after repairs" certification test on vehicles that were directed to and failed their Smog Check at a Test-Only station.

For help understanding the Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) which you received from the test facility, use the simulated VIR where all of the terms are defined.

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