Smog Inspections

Car Side
Smog inspections are required when you register or renew registration for a vehicle in California, but there are some exceptions.

Your vehicle does not need a smog inspection if your:

  • Gasoline-powered vehicle is a 1975 year model or older (This includes motorcycles and trailers.)
  • Diesel-powered vehicle is a 1997 and older year model OR with a Gross Vehicle Weight of more than 14,000 pounds.
  • Powered by natural gas and weighs more than 14,000 pounds. 
  • An electric vehicle.
  • Gasoline-powered and less than four model years old. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Starting January 1, 2019, if your vehicle is less than 4 model years old, you can pay a smog abatement fee instead of getting a smog inspection for the first 8 years that your vehicle is registered.

You can find a DMV-authorized smog check station near you or visit smogcheck.ca.gov.  

If you get a DMV registration renewal notice in the mail, and it tells you that you need to go to a STAR station for a smog check, you can find a STAR station near you at smogcheck.ca.gov.

The California STAR program began on January 1, 2013. The STAR program sets smog check standards, and it replaces the old Gold Shield and Test Only program. 

If your car fails the smog inspection, you should contact the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) Referee Program. They can help you find out what your next steps are.

You can check your zip code at smogcheck.ca.gov to see if you need a smog inspection when you renew your registration.

If you live in one of these counties, you need a smog inspection when you renew your vehicle registration.

AlamedaButteColusaContra CostaFresno
GlennKernKingsLos AngelesMadera
MarinMercedMontereyNapaNevada
OrangeSacramentoSan BenitoSan FranciscoSan Joaquin
San Luis ObispoSan MateoSanta BarbaraSanta ClaraSanta Cruz
ShastaSolanoStanislausSutterTehama
TulareVenturaYoloYuba

No. However, if you are given a car by a family member (a spouse, domestic partner, sibling, child, parent, grandparent, or grandchild) who BOUGHT IT FOR YOU without first titling the car in their name, a smog inspection is required.

Yes. If you are selling your car, you need to give the new owner a valid smog certification when you sell the car.

If the car you are selling is less than four years old, you do not need to get a smog inspection. Instead, the new owner of the car will need to pay a smog transfer fee.

No. If you are active duty military or a military veteran, you still need a smog inspection for your vehicle.

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