FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
  • How long will a Smog Check take?Tests generally take between 15 and 25 minutes. Older vehicles, requiring an EVAP test, take a little longer.
     
  • What are the environmental benefits of Smog Check?According to the California Air Resources Board, the BAR's Smog Check program removes more than 360 tons of smog-forming pollutants, from California's 30 million cars, out of the air every day.
     
  • What is a Test-Only station?Test-Only stations are licensed to perform Smog Checks check only. State law prohibits them from making repairs.
     
  • Why are some vehicles required to go to a Test-Only or Star Station for their Smog Check?Vehicles with expected high emission levels are selected for testing at these stations. Star stations are better equipped and meet higher standards.
     
  • How will I know if I need to take my car to a Test-Only or Star Station?Your DMV Notice will direct you to one, if it is required.
     
  • How much will a Smog Check cost me?Prices for Smog Checks are market-driven, and vary from Station to Station. Motorists are encouraged to carefully check the offers by the Stations, as there are often hidden costs, and the lowest price is not always an accurate measure of quality, service or technical expertise. A few dollars more at a reputed and highly rated Star Station is money well spent for proper compliance, your own peace of mind, as well as your little bit towards preserving our environment.
     
  • Will my vehicle be tested more often under the new Smog Check program?No. Your vehicle must be tested every other year, just as before. A Smog Check is also required when you sell your car.
     
  • How can I help my vehicle pass the Smog Check?Proper and regular maintenance according to the manufacturer's Owner's Manual, and not permitting any tampering with the vehicle's emissions control equipment are key to easily passing the Smog Check and lowering emissions from your vehicle.
     
  • What do I do if my vehicle fails the Smog Check?You will need to get your vehicle repaired so it can pass its Smog Check retest, in order to complete your registration. For retests, you may want to visit a Star Smog Check Station.
     
  • What is a Gross Polluter?Some vehicles that fail their smog inspections emit such high levels of pollution that a category called "Gross Polluter" was created. BAR identifies these vehicles to encourage their immediate repair. Gross Polluters are some of the worst polluting vehicles on California roads.
     
  • What if I can't afford the repairs?The Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) helps many Californians whose vehicles need Smog Check repairs. CAP allows qualified motorists to receive up to $500 in financial assistance for Smog Check repairs. Visit the BAR website for details. You may qualify for repair assistance in one of two ways: (1) your vehicle requires a Smog Check at a Test-Only station, or (2) your income falls within certain levels.
     
  • Who administers the Smog Check program in California?The Smog Check program is administered by the Department of Consumer Affairs, Bureau of Automotive Repair (DCA/BAR). BAR licenses and regulates more than 7500 Smog Check stations, about 14,000 Smog Check technicians, and 34,000 automotive repair dealers across the state.
     
  • What is a STAR Station?STAR Stations are Smog Check stations that meet higher performance standards established by the Bureau of Automotive Repair. State law requires that a percentage of vehicles have their Smog Check Inspection performed at a STAR station. This includes vehicles that fails their Smog Check at a regular smog station, or one that fails at "Gross Polluter" levels. Some STAR stations are licensed to perform only tests, while others are licensed to perform both tests and repairs. It is important for motorists to carefully check the credentials, as well as the transparency of pricing, of the Station they choose to test at. The cheapest prices are not always an accurate measure of service quality or technical expertise.