Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why we need to go through smog check every two years?

A:  It is statistically proven to keep the air clean and prevent ozone so EPA enforces this on California. It's a good thing to do for the environment and it's only every two years. And only vehicles that are 6 years or older have to do this except if you bring in a vehicle from another state or import from overseas.

Q: What is a test only station and why some vehicles have to go to such stations?

A: As the name implies it's a smog check station which specializes in conducting emissions tests, and doesn't do any emission related repairs. It is also believed that test only smog checks are more complete and accurate with the results, and that's one of the reasons DMV refers certain vehicles to such centers.

If your vehicle is required to be inspected at a test only station the most likely reason is that your vehicle statistically is more likely to fail (older cars mostly and certain make and models) or it's randomly selected.

Q: My vehicle passed the inspection, what do I do next?

A: Once the inspection is completed and vehicle passes a smog certificate is electronically sent to DMV. So all you need to do is just pay your registration and if required provide DMV with proof of insurance.

We'll also give you a copy of the inspection report with emission readings and reference numbers for DMV records which you can keep as a proof in case DMV computers crash. Not likely to happen, but still it's a good to have. Also if you're AAA member you complete your registration at one of their offices or another option would be visiting DMV online registration renewal website or calling them at 800.777.0133 - if you're patient enough you'll get to talk to somebody.

Your smog check certificate if valid for two years or if you're transferring title for 90 days.

Q: What happens if my vehicle fails?

A: We'll tell you why it failed and give you a copy of the inspection report. It is your choice to repair it yourself or take it to a smog mechanic. If you cannot afford the repairs you may qualify either for state assistance or a one time two year deferral which is also called economic hardship extension.

Or if you don't want to repair it, there is a State program where State of California will buy it from you for about $1000 and recycle it. We will give you more information about the above mentioned programs provide you with application forms at no charge.

Q: Do I need a smog inspection if I am selling my vehicle?

A: Yes, according to state law it's seller's responsibility to get the smog check and provide the proof to buyer. However we have seen many cases when the buyer comes to get a smog check.

Also if transfer of ownership is between immediate family members, like father and son, or siblings there is no need for a smog check to complete the transfer. Some DMV offices aren't aware of this, so you might have let them know.

Q: What if I have a question that is not answered here?

A: Please also see the useful links section on the website where you may find answers for your questions, or please feel free to call us at 415.827.3101 for your questions. If we're really busy we might have to ask you to call back later but if we have time we'd be happy to answer them for you.