Preparing for a Smog Check?

Published on

August 31, 2021

Smog checks are designed to ensure the amount and type of pollutants your vehicle is emitting do not exceed maximum standards.

There are multiple components of any smog test, and your vehicle must pass all parts of the test to pass.

  • Visual inspection of emissions control components and systems.
  • Functional inspection of the vehicle’s check engine light, ignition timing, exhaust gas recirculation system, fuel evaporative system, and visible smoke.
  • Functional inspection of the vehicle’s On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) system.
  • Tailpipe emissions inspection

After the inspection, you will receive a copy of the Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR), which shows the test results. If your vehicle passes, the certificate of compliance will be digitally sent to the DMV.

Where do you take your vehicle for a Smog Check?

The majority of Californians can have their vehicle Smog Check performed by a Quality Tune-Up Shop location. Each Quality Tune-Up Shop location is certified to perform SMOG inspections. Our Rancho Cordova and Fruitridge locations offer the STAR SMOG Inspections, and the rest of our area locations are certified for Test-Only inspections.

  • STAR stations meet higher standards and are more closely monitored by the Bureau of Automotive Repair. Certain types of vehicles may be required by the DMV to be tested at a STAR station.

  • Test-Only stations specialize in smog inspections and are not permitted to perform diagnostics or repairs. The DMV requires certain vehicles to be inspected at test-only facilities. If the vehicle fails at a Test-Only station, the consumer can then take the vehicle to a qualified Test-and-Repair or Repair-Only station of their choice

What resources are available if your vehicle fails the Smog Check?

If your vehicle fails, the station will provide your vehicle inspection report that shows your vehicle’s results and the reason(s) your vehicle did not pass. If you have questions, our team can go over your vehicle's results and help to get your vehicle in compliance.

To address the reason(s) for the failure, you may:

  • Complete the emissions-related repairs – Any needed repairs should be performed by a station licensed to perform Smog Check repairs. After completing the repairs, have your vehicle reinspected. The station will provide you with a final vehicle inspection report once your vehicle passes Smog Check and will electronically send the certificate to DMV.
  • Visit a Smog Check Referee – Referees offer a second opinion on Smog Check results and can assist you with inspections of unusual vehicles and locating hard-to-find emissions parts. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, visit
  • Apply to the Consumer Assistance Program – The Consumer Assistance Program offers income-eligible consumers assistance toward emissions-related repairs at a STAR test-and-repair station if their vehicle fails its biennial Smog Check inspection. The program also offers eligible consumers an incentive to retire their operational vehicle at a BAR-contracted dismantler site. To review eligibility requirements and apply, visit the Consumer Assistance Program page.

For the most up-to-date information on the smog check process, laws, and station types, visit the Bureau of Automotive Repair.


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