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California Smog Check Program, part 1

Helpful tips from Don’s Pro Tech Automotive

Series: Smog Check Program | Story 1

As one of Tehachapi’s busiest smog stations, Don’s Pro Technology Automotive Repair (DPT) would like to clear up some of the mystery around California’s Smog Check Program. The following information is provided by the California Bureau of Automotive Repair.

The Smog Check Program in California is a vehicle inspection and maintenance program designed to improve the air we breathe. The program identifies vehicles with excess emissions so they can be properly repaired or retired. It has greatly reduced air pollution created by millions of cars in California.

The California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Automotive Repair administers the Smog Check Program and licenses more than 7,000 independently owned Smog Check stations.

Vehicles that require smogs are gasoline-powered vehicles, hybrid vehicles, and alternative-fuel vehicles that are model-year 1976 and newer with the following exceptions:

1. Eight model years and newer do not require a biennial Smog Check.

2. Four model years and newer do not require a change-of-ownership Smog Check.

To determine the first year a vehicle requires a biennial or change-of-ownership Smog Check, add eight or four years, respectively, to the model year of a vehicle. For example, a 2020 model-year vehicle will first be subject to a biennial Smog Check in 2028 (2020 + 8 = 2028). That same vehicle will require a change-of-ownership Smog Check if sold in or after 2024 (2020 + 4 = 2024).

Diesel-powered vehicles that are model-year 1998 and newer with a gross vehicle weight rating of 14,000 pounds and less require a Smog Check. There are no model year exceptions for diesel-powered vehicles.

Motorcycles and electric-powered vehicles do not require a Smog Check.

Performing regular maintenance according to the vehicle’s owner’s manual and not tampering with the emissions-control equipment will help improve the vehicle’s chances of passing a Smog Check. If the “Check Engine” light comes on, the vehicle should be repaired as soon as possible. Do not wait for the vehicle’s next scheduled Smog Check. A blinking or flashing engine light indicates a vehicle malfunction that needs to be addressed immediately to avoid serious damage to the vehicle. It may even be necessary to have the vehicle towed to the repair facility to avoid potential damage. Check the owner’s manual for any parts or repairs that may be covered under the vehicle’s manufacturer emissions warranty.

As Smog Checks are designed to measure the amount and type of pollutants the vehicle is emitting, any of the following tests may be included:

• Visual inspection of emission control components and systems

• Functional inspection of the vehicle’s check engine light, ignition timing, exhaust gas recirculation system, fuel evaporative system, and gas cap

• Functional inspection of the vehicle’s On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) system

• Tailpipe emissions inspection

Even if the vehicle passes the tailpipe emissions portion of the Smog Check, additional inspections of the vehicle are necessary because the tailpipe test alone cannot guarantee that the vehicle is not emitting harmful amounts of pollutants into California’s air. The visual and functional inspections of a vehicle’s emission control components and system ensure that the vehicle has all of the required equipment and that the systems are working properly. These inspections also help prevent evaporative emissions. These types of emissions are created even when the vehicle is not operational. The visual and functional tests also help identify vehicles with tampered (i.e. missing, modified, or disconnected) emissions control systems. These vehicles may be configured to pass the tailpipe portion of the Smog Check, but altered later to produce more emissions than allowed.

If a vehicle is being sold, California Vehicle Code section 24007(b)(2) states that it is the responsibility of the seller to provide a valid smog certificate at the time of delivery of the vehicle to the buyer. However, California Vehicle Code section 4000.1(d)(1) specifies that a second Smog Certificate is not needed upon changing ownership if the application for transfer is submitted to the DMV within 90 days of the vehicle receiving a smog certificate.

Part 2 of the California Smog Check Program will appear in the Sept. 12 issue of The Loop newspaper. For all of your smog inspection needs, stop by Don’s Pro Technology Automotive Repair at 230 E. Tehachapi Blvd. or call the shop at (661) 822-1600. The smog technicians will have the vehicle in and out within 20 to 30 minutes.