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What is a Test-Only Station?

Test-Only Stations are privately-owned smog check stations licensed by the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) to inspect and certify most vehicles, including Gross Polluters. They are prohibited from providing any repair services. 

What is the Test-Only Stations' role?

The addition of test-only stations to the smog check program augments a service previously provided on a temporary basis by state-contracted Referee Centers. Now, owners of gross-polluting vehicles must have their vehicles tested and certified at either a test-only station or a Gold Shield Gross Polluter Certification Pilot station. 

Why is my car being tested on new smog equipment?

The new equipment and the new test, which is performed under simulated driving conditions, is required by state law in the state's smoggiest regions (enhanced areas) in order to meet federal clean air standards. The new equipment tests for oxides of nitrogen NOx, an important smog-causing compound. The old equipment did not test for NOx. 

For how long is a Smog Check certificate valid?

A smog check certificate of compliance or non-compliance is valid for 90 days.

Who is responsible for obtaining a Smog Check when a vehicle is sold?

It is the responsibility of the seller to provide a valid smog certificate at the time of delivery of the vehicle. There is no provision in the law to sell a vehicle "as is." 

My renewal notice says my car needs a Smog Check. But the car is out of state, and will not be back for many months. It's too far to bring it back to California for a smog inspection. Can I get the car smogged in another state and send the results here?

Unless your vehicle is in Nevada or Mexico, you need not bring it back to California in order to complete your registration. Do not obtain a smog inspection in another state; it will not be valid in California. Simply fill out and sign DMV's "Statement of Facts" form (you need the free Adobe Acrobat reader to download and print this form). The registration tags will be mailed to wherever the car is currently located. 

What is an "enhanced area"?

An "enhanced area" is one which has been designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as an area which does not meet the federal ozone health standards. Areas affected are San Diego County, San Joaquin Valley, South Coast, Southeast Desert, Ventura County, and Sacramento.

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

Not all vehicles are compatible with the new dynamometer. Vehicles with full-time four wheel drive, with non-disengage able traction control, or with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of greater than 9999 pounds do not go on the dynamometer. 

I bought a car but did not get a smog certificate. Now I need expensive repairs in order to register the vehicle. What should I do? 
Contact the seller to see whether that person will work with you on repairs. If they are not willing to help you resolve the problem, your option is to pay for the repairs yourself and then attempt to recover those costs in court. 

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

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, which is required by state law. 

Useful Links

Department of Consumer Affairs

California air resource board

Department of Motor Vehicles

Consumer Assistance Application

Smog Check (BAR)

Kelley Blue Book

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