Monday, October 29, 2012

California Smog & Emissions Exemptions; a Brief Rundown

A question we receive on a regular basis is about California's regulations on emissions testing for road vehicles. It seems quite a few people are confused as to what the current law says about the emissions status of motor vehicles. 


To start, emissions testing aka smog tests are required on gasoline powered cars from 1976 and newer.  This means the vehicles must undergo a visual and tailpipe emissions inspection.  Cars 1975 and older are exempt.  There is no rolling exemption in California as that was abolished in 2005 by Governor Schwarzenneger.  Diesel powered cars are exempt from emissions testing up to model year 1997.  1998 and newer diesel cars are required to do a smog test every 2 years like their gasoline counterparts.

Vehicles that are not over 4 years old do not have any smog testing required.  Also, some owners of older vehicles may notice their smog renewal notices stating the car must be tested at a test only facility.  This is due to the car being labeled as a potential high emissions vehicle that may fail the smog inspection.

Cars which fail the emissions test are labeled as gross polluters for 5 years and must have a retest done every year for the next 5 years.  Also, if your smog certificate is good for 90 days from the date it is issued if you want to transfer vehicle ownership to someone else.  It is also the vehicle owner's responsibility for taking care of a car's smog testing before selling the car.

These are the basics for the emissions laws concerning cars in California.  There are some more details you can get from the DMV website if you need more information.  Happy motoring and keep on driving!

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