Q & A

Q: When is a smog inspection required?

Smog inspections are required for all vehicles except diesel powered vehicles, motorcycles, or vehicles with a year model 30 years old or older. Vehicles registered in areas subject to the biennial smog certification program are required to submit evidence of a smog certification every other renewal period.

Vehicles that are four model years old or less are exempt from the biennial smog requirements for registration renewal.

Evidence of a current smog certification must be provided by a seller except when transfer occurs between a spouse, sibling, child, parent, grandparent, or grandchild. Smog certifications are good for 90 days from the date of issuance.

The inspection is not required on a transfer if a biennial smog certification was submitted to DMV within 90 days prior to the vehicle transfer date (a vehicle inspection report may be required for proof of certification).

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

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

Q: Has the DMV received my Smog Certificate? When was my vehicle last smogged?

A: Go to the California Vehicle Smog Test Query page by clicking here.

Q: Why am I being sent to a Test-Only station? My car has never failed Smog Check.

A: Your car was most likely picked up in the High Emitter Profile. Even though it may never have failed before, it has been identified through a computer-based selection process as a vehicle which is likely to be emitting unhealthy levels of harmful pollutants. Or, it could be part of the 2 Percent Random Selection Program.

Q: I have a motorhome. Is it safe to smog it on the dynamometer? What should I do?

Any vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR; fully loaded weight) of 8,500 pounds or more is excused from dynamometer testing. Your Smog Check technician will be able to give any such vehicle the two-speed idle test. Some motorhomes with a GVWR of less than 8,500 pounds still may not be safe for dynamometer testing. If your Smog Check technician decides he or she cannot safely test your motorhome on the dynamometer, they should write that on your invoice. Then, call the Referee Scheduling Center at 800-622-7733 and make an appointment at the nearest Consumer Assistance and Referee Center. Bring your invoice. The referee will be able to give you the two-speed idle test.

Q: What is an Enhanced Area?

A: An Enhanced Area is one which has been designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as an area which does not meet federal health standards for ozone.

Q: Why are Smog Check stations using the new equipment to conduct the old two-speed idle test?

A: Not all vehicles are compatible with the new dynamometer. Vehicles with full-time four wheel drive, with non-disengageable traction control, or with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of greater than 8,500 pounds, do not go on the dynamometer.