FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Information from Our Hayward, Colma, Mountain View & Sunnyvale Smog Testing Team
You may have questions about the smog inspection process, from what situations require testing to what happens if your vehicle fails inspection. Below are some of the most commonly asked questions from our customers at our Colma, Mountain View, Hayward and Sunnyvale, CA smog testing stations. Feel free to speak with a member of our team at Smogg Only if you have additional inquiries!
1. What situations require a vehicle to receive a smog emission test?
There are several situations in which the state of California will require a smog emission test. These include when an individual registers a new vehicle with the DMV for the first time, every two years after that when the individual renews his or her registration, when there is change of vehicle ownership, and when an out-of-state car is being registered in California.
Furthermore, vehicles that are considered “gas polluters” will have special smog check requirements, such as test-only or state referee smog tests. The Smog Check Program requirements apply to all vehicles with model years of 1976 or later that are powered by any of the following: gasoline, propane, methanol / ethanol fuels, or natural gas.
2. In a vehicle sale or transfer, who is required to get the smog check – the seller of the buyer?
When a vehicle is sold or transferred to a new owner, the seller or previous owner is responsible for providing the buyer with a smog inspection certificate. The certificate must have been issued within 90 days of the official transaction or transfer in order for it to be valid.
If the vehicle’s biennial smog inspection certificate was already provided to the DMV within the previous 90 days, another smog check is not required for the ownership transfer. Also, a certificate is not needed if the vehicle is a gasoline-powered motor vehicle with a model that is four years old or less.
3. Do I have to get a smog check if I received my car from a family member?
You are exempt from the smog check requirement if you acquire a vehicle from, or transfer ownership to, one of the following types of family members: a child, a parent, a sibling, a grandchild, a grandparent, a spouse, or a domestic partner.
4. Are military personnel exempt from the smog inspection requirement?
No, there is no military exemption.
5. If my car is new, do I still need to get a smog test every other year?
Vehicles with model years six years old or older are no longer required to get biennial smog checks. Instead, the owners of these vehicles are required to pay a smog abatement fee every year for their first six years of vehicle registration with the DMV. There are, however, some exceptions.
6. How long does a smog emission test typically take?
Our tests are generally very quick. For most vehicles, they usually take around 15 to 20 minutes. However, the inspection can take shorter or longer, depending on the vehicle’s make, model, and year, and other factors.
7. Are you a STAR-certified smog test station?
Yes, we are STAR-certified and approved to perform smog emission testing on any type of vehicle. As a STAR station, our qualifications as smog test providers are regularly monitored by the state.
8. What if I didn’t receive instructions to take my vehicle to a STAR test-only or test and repair facility?
We can still handle your smog inspection, even if you were not directed to use a STAR-certified station.
9. What qualifies a vehicle for an exemption for a smog emission test?
Your vehicle may qualify for an exemption from smog emission testing if it is a hybrid, an electric vehicle, a diesel-powered vehicle, a 1975 year model or older, a natural gas-powered vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 14,001 lbs. or more, a motorcycle, or a trailer.
10. How do I know if my diesel vehicle needs a smog test?
The DMV’s website can provide you with more information about whether a smog inspection is required for your diesel vehicle. You diesel vehicle is exempt if it has a gross vehicle weight of more than 1,4500 lbs., or if its model year is 1997 or earlier.
11. Do you perform smog tests on heavy-duty vehicles, RVs, ATVs, and vehicles with all-wheel drive?
Yes. We are able to perform smog checks on all kinds of vehicles, including these ones.
12. What happens if my vehicle does not pass inspection?
You may be eligible to receive up to $500 in emissions-related repairs through the Repair Assistance Program, or to receive assistance through the Voluntary Accelerated Vehicle Retirement Program. Please keep in mind that we also offer a free retest within 90 days of your initial test.
13. Will my vehicle pass the smog check if the engine light is on?
No, it will not pass. You will still, however, need to have your vehicle smog-checked. If it fails the test, you can have a smog repair facility identify the issue so it can be fixed. In some cases, the vehicle may only need a minor repair, such as the replacement of a gas cap. If completing the repairs is going to be an issue for you, you can explore your options through the Consumer Assistance Program.
14. What if my vehicle has modifications, such as an aftermarket air intake? Can you still perform a smog test?
We may or may not be able to perform the smog check, depending on the specific situation. Once you talk to us about your specific modifications, we will let you know what we can do.
15. Can you send my smog test certificate directly to the DMV?
Yes. For your convenience, we automatically transmit this certificate directly to the DMV so you don’t have to worry about the paperwork.
16. What is the best time to come in for a smog check?
Because our workflow fluctuates, there is no way for us to predict when it will be slow. You can, however, cut down on your wait time by scheduling your appointment online. This will allow us to start your test at a specified time, no matter who arrives before you.
For more information about our Hayward, Colma, Mountain View, and Sunnyvale smog emission testing services, contact us today at (510) 538-8987 (Hayward) or (650) 206-4169 (Colma) or (650) 934-1180 (Mountain View) or at (408) 749-1964 (Sunnyvale).