I was inspired to go find the answer to a question I had from a post that @Tracey made earlier about passing her smog test (congrats @Tracey!).  I realized that I hadn't had to get a smog check..well...ever (except for when I first moved to California 7 years ago). A quick link for those of you just trying to find a local smog check station:


Sooo...I went on the hunt to see when and if I needed to get a smog check and how often.  Here is what I found out.  There is actually an entire website dedicated to smog checks ( that I got the info from.  I pulled the best of the best info that I think people could benefit from and summarized it in much shorter sentences:


Common Smog Check Questions:

  • Do older vehicles need smog checks?
    • As of 04/01/2005 the new smog check law states that any vehicle manufactured prior to 1976 are exempt from needing smog checks.  All vehicles 1976 and newer will need to be tested
    • Other exemptions:
      • Any vehicle with two-cycle engines
      • Vehicles with engines smaller than 50 cubic inches of displacement
      • Electric vehicles
      • Motorcycles
  • I have a brand new vehicle, do I need to get a smog check?
    • Nope!  Any vehicle 4-6 model years old and newer do not need to get a biennial smog check performed until their fifth-seventh year.
    • Exception to the rule: If the vehicle is sold or registered inside of California from another state (what a stupid my car going to change emissions?!)
  • How often do I need to get a Smog Inspection?
    • Almost all vehicles on the road in California will require a biennial (every other year) smog inspection. 
    • Exception: some vehicles in rural areas only need a smog check during a change of ownership/sale/purchase. 
  • Will my vehicle pass the California smog inspection if I am moving from another State?
    • This one is a little trickier, because there are several variables involved.  However, if your vehicle passed the Federally required emissions tests, then it is most likely that you will also pass the California smog-test.
  • My California registered car is currently out of the State, but I need to renew my registration.  How can I do this without getting a smog test?
    • If your vehicle is anywhere outside of the State of California (except for Nevada or Mexico), you do not need a smog test to renew your registration.
    • When you renew your registration just fill out the 'Statement of Facts" on the renewal form telling the State that your vehicle is not located inside of California.
  • What is a Fuel EVAP Test (LPFET)?
    • This test is designated for model years 1976 - 1995.  This test is aimed at improving the overall air quality and reduce health risks to everyone.  It basically tests your vehicles fuel evaporative system to make sure that it isn't leaking gas fumes into the atmosphere. 
    • The average cost to repair a failed test on the EVAP system is around $250.00
  • How much is a smog test going to cost me? And where can I get the smog inspection?
    • They typically arent that expensive, but more of a nuisance.  Prices are not regulated by the State.  It ranges from $29 - $70 depending on where you go and where you live.
    • Find a Smog Inspection Shop

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