What Does Failing A Smog Check Mean?

If you live in the state of California, you know what smog is. The first reports of smog sightings started rolling in around 1943, and the problem got serious fast. People could not see more than three blocks ahead of them. There were numerous reports of stinging eyes and difficulties breathing, and the smog was blamed on a local power plant. 

In the 70s, the state of California introduced strict environmental policies meant to crack down on environmentally unfriendly hazards and cut down smog for residents. Today, smog and pollutants have decreased by 80 percent since the California Air Resource Board (CARB) was created.

The Smog Check

One of the key policies introduced as part of California’s push to address air pollution was the Smog Check Program. Today, vehicles that are eight years old or older are required to have a smog check every two years, while all vehicles at least four years old are required to have a smog check when there is a change of owner. 

Older vehicles have their own standard to meet and are not expected to perform as well as newer ones. Every vehicle is subject to smog checks, even government-owned ones. Electric powered vehicles and motor bikes are not, however.

The process of getting a smog check will only take about 20 to 30 minutes. You can get your vehicle checked out at a regular BAR (Bureau of Automotive Repair) licensed facility, and if directed to on your DMV renewal form, a special STAR station. It might be best to find a station that does tests and repairs, so you don’t need to drive back and forth if your car fails.

During a smog check, the inspector will look over your vehicle and test it thoroughly for emissions. The important step is when they check your tail pipe with a sniffer or car emission tester.

Once all of that is taken care of, the inspectors will then decide if your car passes the emission test. If it passed, they would send an electronic certificate to the DMV. This certificate will be valid for the next 90 days (about 3 months) for you to renew your vehicle’s registration.

Failing The Smog Check

If your vehicle doesn’t meet the smog check inspection’s standards, the DMV will not receive a certificate. The inspector should explain what is wrong with your vehicle and you could seek repairs. Since you can’t get your registration renewed, you won’t be able to drive your car legally without repairs.

It is important to note that although your vehicle is considered damaged and not smog check certified, you can still sell it if you wish. There will always be buyers for damaged cars.

What’s wrong with your car could widely vary. You might need to replace a rubber hose that could cost $150 for tests and repairs, or you might need to replace the entire catalytic converter, running you between $1,000 to $2,000. This could be too expensive for you, and you might be wondering what to do.

Luckily, the government of California offers the Consumer’s Assistance Program that gives you money to have your car’s emissions fixed. If your vehicle failed a biennial smog check this program could help you pay for repairs at a STAR test and repair location.

 All you need to do is go on BAR’s website, look for the CAP program, see if you are eligible and apply. If you cannot apply online, call their office and they will mail you an application letter.

 A vehicle from 1996 or newer, as of now, can get you $1,200 for repairs if you are eligible, while a vehicle from 1976 to 1995 can get you $900. You will still need to pay a copayment or the diagnosis and repairs. You can check out more details in their websites FAQ. If this still is not enough for you to be able to cover the repair, you might want to consider selling it and getting a new one instead.

So in conclusion, it is not the end of the world if your car doesn’t pass the smog check. It is there for a reason, to protect the environment and ensure safe breathable air for Californians. If your car fails a smog check, you can get it repaired, with some help from the state, or sell it off.