To protect your wallet always have your vehicle smog checked before any repairs are made. We have found that most people who make repairs before the test take their vehicle to an unqualified mechanic who spends your money on needless repairs.
My registration is past due. What if my vehicle fails?
Our failed inspection report can be taken to the DMV or AAA (must be member) where you can pay the registration fees and receive an extension so you can legally drive the vehicle while you get the repairs completed.
Common causes for smog check failures
Follow manufacturer's maintenance schedule - check the owner manual (that book in the glove compartment you haven't looked at since the car was new). Change engine oil and change air, oil and fuel filters at the manufacturer's suggested intervals. Perform all other service and maintenance at manufacturers suggested intervals.
Aftermarket Parts - any aftermarket, i.e., non OEM parts, that have been installed before the catalytic converter must have a California EO (executive order) sticker. The sticker ensures that part has been approved for that particular year, make & model vehicle. If it is not present, and permanently attached somewhere on the vehicle, it will fail the visual portion of the test.
Check Engine light - An active check engine light is a symptom of a problem. It's like going to the doctor with a fever in anticipation of finding out what is causing the fever. If your check engine light is on the vehicle will fail the test! However, if you have a 1996 or newer vehicle there is a good chance the test will let you know what is causing the problem.
Gas cap gaskets - In order to prevent gasoline vapors from escaping, the gas cap has to have a tight seal. If the gas cap leaks under pressure it will cause a smog test failure. Unfortunately the entire test has to be repeated even if the vehicle passed all other parts of the test. Take a look at your gas cap. If the gasket is cracked or damaged invest a few dollars in a new gas cap.
PCV hoses - PCV (Positive Crankcase Ventilation) hoses deteriorate over time. We often see these hoses replaced with heater hose material. This is not acceptable as they easily crimp. The only acceptable substitute for an original equipment PCV hose is a fuel line.
Monitor reset - If any work is performed on your vehicle (1996 and newer) that involved disconnecting the battery, be sure to drive the car 60-80 miles to reset the on board computer (OBDII). If in doubt, ask us to check the monitors prior to beginning the test.
What happens if the “Check Engine Light” is on?
If the Check Engine Light is on this usually means a bad thing is going on with the vehicle. If the check engine light is on most likely it will fail at inspection. It can be very costly to repair a failed smog check vehicle. However there are shops that provide a smog check diagnostics before the test is performed.
What If My Vehicle Fails the Smog Check?
In order to complete your registration, you will need to obtain the repairs necessary for the vehicle to pass a Smog Check retest. Before beginning repairs, you may want to find out if you are eligible for the Consumer Assistance Program. If there is a dispute about the results of your Smog Check inspection or if you would like a second opinion, contact the Referee Call Center at 800.622.7733 to schedule an appointment. The Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) is administered by the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) and is designed to help improve California's air quality. A consumer may retire a qualified vehicle and receive $1000. Consumers meeting low income eligibility requirements may receive $1500. In addition, CAP provides qualified consumers who own a vehicle that cannot pass its biennial (every other year) Smog Check inspection up to $500 in financial assistance toward emissions-related repairs. You may be eligible for financial assistance from the government to retire or repair your vehicle.
What is the difference between a regular smog station and a STAR smog station?
STAR smog stations will be able to issue a certificate of compliance to a vehicle passing a smog check when a motorist is referred by the DMV to such a station for vehicle registration renewal. A non “star” station may not issue a certificate to the motorist’s vehicle. They may however, test and issue certificates to vehicles not directed by the DMV to a “STAR” smog check station. Our La Mesa star station is your best bet regardless what specific smog test DMV is asking for.