How Long Does Smog Check Take?

How long does smog check take? A smog check should take roughly 20-30 minutes to complete on average. To register your car, you must pass your smog check. If your vehicle fails, a certified smog check repair specialist from a licenced smog check repair station, such as California Motor Works and Tires, can typically identify and correct the issue.

how long does smog check take

What is Involved in a Smog Check

There are various procedures involved in the smog certification process for your automobile or truck. The mechanic will first examine the emission control systems and their numerous components.

Regardless of whether he discovers any problems with the emission control systems, the next step is to evaluate the check engine light, ignition timing, and different gasoline-related devices such as the gas cap, exhaust gas recirculation system, and fuel evaporative system. He will next examine your vehicle’s On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) system. He will do the emissions test when all of the work has been completed.

You will get a copy of the inspection after all of the inspections are completed. You will be given your certification if you pass the exam. If your car fails, you will be given a list of the issues that must be resolved.

Smog Station

Reliant Auto Repair is a smog station approved by the state of California to provide smog certifications and repairs. If you fail the exam, the technician may fix any broken components or make the required changes to ensure that you pass the certification. How long does it take to get a smog certificate? It might take as little as 20 minutes, but if repairs are required, it could take much longer.

When are smog checks required in California?

Early California Initial Registration

Diesel-powered cars from the 1998 model year and newer with a GVWR rating of 14,000 lbs or less, as well as gasoline-powered vehicles five model years old or older, need smog certification in order to get initial California registration.

Specially manufactured cars built in 1976 or after are no longer exempt from smog checks and may need a smog check referee examination. To make an appointment with an official referee station, call (800) 622-7733.

Renewal of Registration

Vehicles nine model years old or older that are registered in counties subject to the biannual smog inspection programme will be required to present documentation of valid smog certification every other renewal term. Vehicles with eight or fewer model years are exempt from the smog check programme until their ninth year of California registration.

Instead of having to pass a smog inspection, these cars will be charged an annual pollution abatement fee. Add eight to the model year of your car to calculate the first year it will need a biennial smog inspection.

If your vehicle needs smog certification during this renewal period, your registration renewal notification will state so. If certification is necessary but you are concerned about passing the inspection or have personal time restrictions, you may still pay your registration costs to avoid late fees.

NeedTags can file your payment with the Department of Motor Vehicles and send you your new registration card and sticker on the same day your vehicle passes the smog test. Every day, our system checks the DMV’s car information database for smog certification changes.

Title Transfer

The majority of title transfer transactions will need a smog certificate. Only when purchasing or selling a vehicle four or fewer model years old will a smog certification be waived in order to transfer title to the new owner. Diesel-powered vehicles are excluded from the four-year-old-or-newer regulation.

A smog transfer fee will be charged for vehicles that do not need a smog inspection. To calculate the first year your vehicle will need a change-of-ownership smog check, multiply the model year by four. Find out more about Online DMV Title Transfer.

In Short

Smog certification is required for diesel-powered vehicles from the 1998 model year and newer with a GVWR rating of 14,000 lbs or less. Smog tests are no longer required for specially made vehicles produced in 1976 or after. A smog transfer fee will be charged for vehicles that do not need a smog inspection.

When will my car need its first smog check?

To calculate the first year your car will need a biennial (registration renewal) or title transfer smog check, add an eight or four to the model year of the vehicle. For example, a 2018 model-year car will need a biannual smog check in 2026 (2018 + 8 = 2026) and a title transfer smog check in 2022 (2018 + 4 = 2022). For smog check exemption reasons, the vehicle’s model year, not the year of production, is used to calculate age.

Different Types of Smog Check Stations

Now is a good time to go through the three (3) different kinds of smog stations that exist in California:

Repair & Testing

The advantage of test and repair shops is that they can not only accomplish the smog inspection but also repair the vehicle if necessary. All under one roof, saving time for customers. If your car fails at a Test Only station, you will eventually need to attend this sort of smog station.

Test Only

These smog stations are only permitted to offer inspection services and are not permitted to undertake repairs. Their mission is to conduct fair and unbiased smog inspections. Consumers like the fact that these facilities do not provide or sell repairs and have no interest in doing so.

A Test Only smog inspector is not permitted by California BAR regulations to comment on, express an opinion on, or give repair suggestions about a smog check failure. While offering free advice may be considered unethical, charging for diagnosis and/or repair (s) is not.

If your vehicle fails at one of these smog stations, you must seek diagnostic and repair services at a Test & Repair or Repair Only station.

Repair Only

In California, there are even a few Repair Only smog stations. These establishments, as the name suggests, are permitted to repair automobiles but are not permitted to offer smog check certification.

They will have all of the necessary diagnostic equipment to diagnose and repair automobiles, as well as an inspection machine to verify that the vehicle passes the smog check following repairs, but they will lack the California licence needed to accomplish an official smog inspection. The majority of repair firms with this accreditation cater to a niche clientele rather than the general public.

STAR Certified

This is not a special sort of smog station. Consider it more of a badge of pride. This accreditation is only available to the highest emission test standards holding smog stations, whether Test & Repair or Test & Only. The state of California’s Bureau of Automotive Repairs issues the status.

A STAR certified smog station is one that is authorised to grant smog certification to a vehicle that has been referred to a STAR-approved facility. STAR-certified test and repair facilities may also provide free emissions-related repairs up to $500.00 under the Consumer Assistance Program (CAP).

If you participate in CAP, you should be aware of this. If you pay for anything out of pocket at a non-STAR approved Test & Repair smog station, the BAR may be unable to refund you.


If your vehicle fails at a Test Only station, you will ultimately be required to visit a Repair Only station. While giving free advice is unethical, charging for diagnostic and/or repair services is not. The status is issued by California’s Bureau of Automotive Repairs. The bulk of repair companies with this certification serve a specific customer.

Do I need a smog check if I’m going to file a Planned Non-Operation?

No, but if you register your car as non-operational and then decide to put it back into service, a smog check may be necessary. A smog inspection is not required for a vehicle that will not be used in California. Vehicles that are not in operation and are driven or parked on public roads may be cited and/or seized. In California, parking on public land is the same as “driving” a car.

Why does my car need a STAR smog check?

According to state legislation, a certain number of cars must have their smog inspections completed at a STAR-certified station. Some vehicles chosen for a STAR inspection may have been recognised as having a higher risk of emitting excessive quantities of dangerous pollutants than others. Vehicles may also be chosen at random to test the STAR certification program.

Accelerated Simulation Mode (ASM) Inspection

The switch to the BAR-OIS plug-and-play smog check system (applicable to cars model years 2000 and newer) has increased the cost of maintaining the previous dynamometer and tailpipe (BAR-97) smog test systems.Currently, gasoline-powered automobiles from the 1999 model year and older must pass the BAR-97 examination.

This kind of examination is sometimes referred to as the “accelerated simulation mode.” Station owners may opt to charge extra for inspecting certain cars. A BAR-97 smog check takes substantially longer than a BAR-OIS examination. The BAR-97 smog inspection makes use of a dynamometer to run a vehicle while a sample of its tailpipe exhaust is tested for excess emissions.

EVAP System Test

Vehicles from 1995 model years and older may be required to perform an EVAP test during the ASM emissions check. The Low-Pressure Fuel Evaporative Test is the official name for this test (LPFET).

It is intended to inspect a vehicle’s fuel tank and any associated fuel/vapor lines to verify that the systems are properly sealed. These systems’ harmful emissions must not evaporate into the atmosphere. Station owners have the option of charging an EVAP test fee in addition to the ASM inspection fee.

Engine Cover Removal

To allow for a comprehensive smog examination, a vehicle’s engine cover and/or panels may need to be removed. The Bureau of Automotive Repairs requires the removal of the panel, which permits the shop owner to charge an extra labour fee to accomplish the repair.

It is required, however, that the store owner post these extra prices in plain view of the public. This isn’t very common, and it usually only happens on a few vans and weird cars.

Oversized Vehicles

During your pricing comparison, you may discover that various smog stations charge varying rates for different car sizes. The logic underlying the extra costs for most company owners involves accounting for the expense of wear and tear.

Larger cars are heavier, put greater strain on load-bearing equipment, and are often more difficult to navigate around a smog station. In addition to the usual inspection price, the time and expense of providing service to bigger cars may influence how much a smog station decides to charge for the inspection.

To Summarize

The expense of maintaining the former dynamometer and tailpipe (BAR-97) smog test equipment has grown since the conversion to the BAR-OIS plug-and-play smog check system. Station owners may choose to charge a fee for examining certain vehicles. Smog stations charge various prices depending on the size of the vehicle. Larger vehicles put more strain on load-bearing equipment and are usually more difficult to move around.

How much does a smog check cost?

We’re all aware that having a vehicle entails expenditures such as paying for petrol, auto insurance, maintenance, and repairs—oh, and actually paying for the car, either outright or in monthly instalments. You may add a smog check to the list of expenses, but the good news is that it’s not too pricey.

The cost of a smog check can range from $29.95 to $89.95, depending on where you live and what needs to be done during the check.

However, it is just the cost of the exam. If you fail the smog test, you may be required to pay for repairs. However, there may be limitations in place, as well as extra help if necessary. The state of California sets smog check repair costs at $450, and you may be eligible for a cost waiver if you are designated low-income.

It’s crucial to understand that the cost of a smog check varies depending on the supplier and jurisdiction. For example, in California, for example, the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) does not control rates, so you should shop around to compare costs since you’ll be dealing with private industry. Smog check stations, on the other hand, are obliged to prominently indicate pricing.

How long is a smog check good for?

A smog check may be required if you are renewing your vehicle’s registration or selling it. If a smog check is necessary, the DMV (or an equivalent body in your state) will usually notify you.

Bring the notification to the smog inspection, and after finished, your smog certificate is usually valid for 90 days and should be filed to the local transportation authority. You may also be required to pay a smog certificate charge, which is $8.25 in California.

If you’re wondering how often you should get your automobile smogged, the answer is that it depends on the state, county, and kind of vehicle you drive. In California, for example, a smog check may be needed as part of the registration procedure every other year. You should check with your local state transportation authority for recommendations, but if it is needed, you should get a notification.

How can you pass a smog check?

If you’re worried about passing a smog test, make sure you’re taking care of your automobile and doing regular maintenance as needed. In addition, don’t mess with any emission-related parts and get your car fixed if the engine light comes on.

If there are flickering lights, this might be another indication that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. Taking proper care of your vehicle is the most effective way to pass a smog inspection.

Staying on top of the criteria is also important. So, if you receive a notice, obtain a smog check as soon as possible and bring the notification with you. Go to a testing facility that has been authorised and obtain the findings. If you live in California, you may use this tool to locate a store where you can receive a smog test.

If you don’t pass the smog test, you’ll need to take action and have repairs made to remedy the emission problems. If you have a low income, you may be eligible for aid in your state, such as California’s Consumer Assistance Program.

Things You Must Know to Help Pass the Smog Test

Running Right

If your car does not operate properly, do not submit it for a smog inspection. It’s likely that it’ll fail the smog test and you’ll forfeit your inspection money. First, seek repair help. This will save you time and money while also ensuring your car passes the smog test.

Go for a Drive

Drive for at least 20 minutes before arriving at the smog station. This will guarantee that your car is thoroughly warmed up and functioning at peak performance. Keep in mind that your engine is a fuel-burning machine. To guarantee optimal combustion, it must be given enough time to warm up, which may be done by driving for at least 10 to 15 miles.

Use Additives

The use of gasoline additives may be quite beneficial in decreasing pollution levels and assisting your automobile, truck, van, or SUV in passing the emissions check. Typically, gasoline additives are injected into a vehicle’s gas tank during refilling. The additive is put into the gasoline of your car.

The goal is to remove carbon deposits from your engine’s intake and exhaust channels, enabling fuel and air to flow freely, cutting emissions, boosting combustion, enhancing overall engine performance, and helping you pass the emission test. These kinds of things could help with a lot of problems with car emissions and smog tests.

Inflate Tires

If your vehicle is a model year 1999 or older, it will be driven on a dynomometer while the smog machine collects an exhaust sample. Making sure your vehicle’s tyre pressures are level and right can help you drive more steadily and accurately throughout the smog test.

This will enhance your vehicle’s total emissions production by enabling the engine to maintain a consistent and stable load. Correct and consistent tyre pressure might be the difference between a borderline car failing or passing the smog test. This suggestion, as well as tips 5 and 7, may not apply to your car if it was made in 2000 or later. This does not mean that your car’s tyres should not be properly inflated.

Oil Change

If you’re nearing your next oil change interval, do it before the smog inspection. Your vehicle’s PCV (positive crank ventilation) system is intended to enable your engine to breathe pollutants found in oil compartments (oil pan, etc.).

The vapours are subsequently burnt in a combustion process. If you don’t change your oil enough, the oil in your engine could become dirty and your car might not pass the inspection.

Turn off the Check Engine Light

Check to see whether your vehicle’s check engine light or malfunction indicator lamp is turned off. An illuminated check engine or MIL light indicates an automated smog failure. A competent repair company can determine the cause of the check engine light and provide you with an examination and quote.

A Check Engine light problem may also be diagnosed by a home technician using special Check Engine code retrieval equipment, which is available from most auto parts shops. It is important to note that a smog specialist cannot refuse to test your vehicle because he or she observes a lit light. The smog specialist must accomplish the smog check on your car and fail it. This is state law in California. Keep an eye out. Obtain a pre-test.

Has the battery been disconnected recently?

If your car has had a jump start or battery replacement, we suggest waiting at least one week before having it smogged. When a vehicle’s computer (engine control unit) loses power, for example, when the battery is unplugged or the charge is expended, the internal self-test monitors are wiped.

Your car will fail the smog test if it does not have these essential emission monitors. You will be required to travel between 100 and 200 miles in a week, known as a “drive cycle,” in order to “complete” the emission monitors and pass the smog check.

Avoid rainy days

During the smog test, if your vehicle is model year 1999 or older, it will be driven on a dynamometer. When your car’s tyres are wet, the smog technician has a greater chance of slipping and losing traction while on the dynamometer. Unstable engine and drivetrain torque is not the ideal condition for your car if you want to pass emissions tests.

This is not to say that you can’t pass an emissions test on a rainy day. The smog machine has a “dry tyres” mode that will dry the tyres on your car, truck, SUV, or van before the test. However, as previously stated, you don’t want to put any additional strain on the engine before or during the emissions test.


If your automobile isn’t running correctly, don’t take it in for a smog check. The use of gasoline additives may help to reduce pollution levels. Keeping your vehicle’s tyre pressure level and correct might help you drive more correctly throughout the smog test. If you don’t replace your oil often enough, the oil in your engine may get dirty, and your car may fail inspection.

Frequently Asked Questions

Following are some frequently asked questions related to how long does smog check take.

1. How much does a smog test cost in California?

Smog stations are privately owned and operated enterprises. The typical smog test costs between $29.95 and $69.95, depending on the county you reside in, the kind of vehicle you own (car, truck, van, SUV, or motorhome), and the type of smog inspection your vehicle needs.

2. What happens if your car doesn’t pass smog?

If your vehicle’s smog inspection fails, you have two options: fix the damaged components or cease driving. If your smog check fails, you won’t be able to renew your DMV registration. Your failed smog test may now cost you money in repairs.

3. What fails a smog check?

Vehicles may fail a smog check for a variety of reasons. Some of the most prevalent causes of failing a smog check are: Emissions from tailpipes are excessive. Non-approved components or computer programming were used to modify the vehicle. Failures of the check engine light or the OBD monitor

4. How can I pass smog illegally?

Methods for Passing an Emissions Test (Smog) Test:

  • On a chilly day, test a hot automobile.

  • Make use of a specialty gasoline additive.

  • Tires should be inflated to the correct (high) level.

  • Carry out an oil change.

  • Turn off the “Check Engine” light on your car (if needed).

  • Locate a store that provides a free retest.

5. What year cars are exempt from smog in California?

A gasoline-powered vehicle manufactured in 1975 or earlier. (This includes motorcycles and trailers.) A diesel-powered vehicle is one that was manufactured in 1997 or before or has a gross vehicle weight of more than 14,000 pounds.

6. Can I sell my car if it doesn’t pass smog?

You may legally sell a vehicle in planned non-operational status; however, the buyer will not be able to legally drive the vehicle on state roads and highways until it is examined and receives a clean bill of health in the form of a smog certificate.

7. What does a smog check do?

A smog check, often known as an emissions test, is intended to ensure that every vehicle on the road is operating as efficiently as possible. The inspection looks at a car’s engine emissions to see how much pollution it sends into the air.

8. How do I know if I need a star smog?

If you do not have DMV papers and are unsure what sort of smog check your automobile, truck, van, SUV, or RV requires, please contact the California DMV at (800) 777-0133. Older automobiles often need STAR smog checkups, but newer models may get a smog test at any smog station.

9. Why are smog checks so expensive?

Most stations employ a pricing system based on the amount of effort necessary to check various cars, as well as an estimate of the wear and tear that a specific vehicle may cause to the smog station’s testing equipment. There are, therefore, somewhat higher fees for older models and/or bigger vehicles.

10. Do I need a smog check in California?

Smog inspections are required every other year in California for automobiles that are more than eight years old. A smog check is also required if you are selling a car that is more than four years old or registering an out-of-state vehicle for the first time in California.


In many states, getting a smog check is a normal procedure. However, not all states require a smog check, and you may be excluded based on the kind of vehicle you own or where you reside. Check with your local transportation authority first, and if you do need a smog check, look for the finest locations to acquire one at a reasonable price.

While you’re keeping up with your vehicle’s obligations to be on the road, check into different car insurance solutions that may be more advantageous for your scenario.

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