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Smog Testing: What to Do If Your Vehicle Doesn’t Pass the Test?

If you you are a California resident and you own an older model car or truck, then you likely receive a notification for a smog check every other year. Your vehicle must pass the test before you can receive your new registration. What do you do? First, look for a smog station near you. Be sure that you get your car inspected at a Star Certified, California Licensed, smog check inspection and repair center. Some smog stations only perform testing, which means you still have to go to a mechanic to have any repairs made. Others, like Star stations, including AutoAid, can help you from testing through inspection and repair. While you wait for your automobile, you wonder what will you do if your vehicle does not pass the test? Will you be fined? Is there a way to avoid it altogether?

Smog Test

Before we answer your questions, let us go through what California's smog test encompasses. The test is made up of three parts: Emissions, Visual and Functional, each looking at how efficiently the car is functioning. The state may require more extensive testing if you live in an area with higher smog levels.

  • Part 1--Emissions

The first thing the smog station technician will do is to connect your car or truck to the exhaust gas analyzer (smog machine). The equipment will detect the presence of nitrogen oxide, hydrogen and carbon monoxide, three chemicals linked to smog production.

  • Part II--Visual

A visual examination of the components follows. The mechanic is looking to make sure everything is connected correctly and no leaks are evident. The inspection looks at:

  • Positive crankcase ventilation
  • Exhaust gas recirculation valve
  • Carburetor preheat tube
  • Catalytic converter
  • Oxygen sensor
  • Under hood emission label
  • Air injection system
  • Charcoal canister

Other instruments, such as the intake air temperature sensor, throttle position sensor, crankshaft position sensor, camshaft position sensor, manifold absolute pressure, and the air filter and housing, will also be inspected. The mechanic will monitor tailpipe emissions looking for white or black smoke. White smoke indicates water is seeping into the combustion chambers. Black smoke may mean that the engine is not burning the fuel properly or that engine oil has gotten into the combustion chambers.
Part III-Functional
In this last part of the diagnostic test, the technician will manually examine the following:

  • Exhaust recirculation valve
  • Gas cap and filler neck
  • Exhaust recirculation valve
  • Check engine light

The mechanic may also perform a Fuel Evaporation Control Test or Low-Pressure Fuel Evaporative Test to identify gasoline vapors that may escape into the environment. Check the DMV.ca.gov website to see which vehicles may be exempt from this test.

AutoAid Brings Smog Testing to Its Customers

AutoAid is now a Star Certified, California licensed smog check inspection and repair center. The Star Certification shows that our station has met superior criteria for exceptional inspection service.

No Inspection Necessary

The State of California requires most cars on the road to have smog inspection, except for those that are:
Eight or less model years old in a biennial smog check area
1997 model year or earlier, and are diesel-powered with a gross vehicle weight of more than 14,000 pounds.
1975 or earlier and are gas-powered
Natural gas-powered vehicles over 14,000 pounds.
Motorcycles
Electric cars
Trailers
2000 model year or new (except for those vehicles with 14,000 GVWR or higher)

Other exceptions apply depending on whether a nonresident initially registered the car, the vehicle is diesel powered or has had a title transfer, especially between family members. Be sure to check your registration paperwork for a smog notice.

Newer car models (six or less years old) will be charged a $20 abatement fee and will not have to have a smog test. Seven- year-old vehicles (model year 2012) that received a smog certificate in 2018 are not required to pay the smog abatement fee this year. 

Whatever your automotive concern is, AutoAid is your trusted resource for automotive repair, smog checks, towing and more! Ask us your car or truck questions! We’re here for you. Make an appointment today and let us help your vehicle get a passing grade on the smog test. You can call us or visit our website.

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