Our experienced technicians at Alpine Smog & Auto Repair can answer all your questions about our smog and other auto repair services. We provide quick turnaround on all work done at our independently owned and operated shop. Contact us today for your DMV automotive solutions.
Q: Do I need a smog check?
A: Your vehicle needs a smog check if it is more than six model years old and the model year is 1976 or newer. (This does not include motorcycles, electric and hybrid vehicles, and two-cylinder engine vehicles.)
Q: How often does my vehicle have to be tested?
A: Your vehicle must be tested every other year. A smog check is also required if you sell your vehicle and it is more than four model years old. Some vehicles may require a smog check at a test-only station.
Q: What should I take to my smog check?
A: If you are renewing your registration, you only need to take your vehicle, your Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Registration Renewal Notice, and a method of payment for the smog check. If you are transferring a vehicle, or registering it in California for the first time, take the vehicle, a form of payment, and all of your registration documents to the station.
Q: What happens during a smog check?
A: While performing a smog check, the certified technician will connect measuring equipment to your vehicle. This equipment is connected to computers at the Bureau of Automotive Repair. Measurements taken during the smog check are recorded and available immediately to BAR (Bureau of Automotive Repair). Certifications are immediately transmitted to the DMV.
The staff at the smog check station will tell you the results of the test. They will give you a receipt and a copy of the test results, known as a Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR). What to do next? If your vehicle passes, you may complete your vehicle registration. Be sure to follow the exact instructions provided by DMV.
In some cases, such as paying your fees at a DMV field office, you will have to notify DMV that you received a smog certification before they will process your registration and send you the renewed registration and sticker.
Q: How will I know if I need to take my car to a STAR station?
A: You will be notified on the registration renewal notice sent by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if your vehicle must be inspected at a STAR station.
Q: When am I required to get my car smog?
A: Under California vehicle emissions control laws and regulations, you must get a smog check for your car in the following cases:
1. My DMV Registration Renewal Notice says "Smog Certification Required" OR "Smog Certification Required at a Test-Only Center". Most vehicles registered in California are required to pass a smog check every two years. Your annual Registration Renewal Notice lets you know when you need to get a smog check.
2. I am selling my car. When you sell a vehicle in California, the seller is responsible for getting a smog certificate prior to completing the sale.
3. I am bringing a car into California to be registered. When you bring a vehicle into California to be registered, you are required to get a smog certificate prior to registration.
Q: Can you smog my all-wheel drive vehicle?
A: Yes. All-wheel drive vehicles are smogged by doing a two-speed idle test rather than being tested on a dynamometer.
Q: Can you smog my full-sized motorhome?
Q: Is my vehicle required to get a Smog Check?
A: It depends on your situation:
• Registration renewals – Your vehicle needs a Smog Check if it is more than six model years old but newer than 1976 (i.e., in 2014, model years 1976 – 2008 must be smogged). This does not include motorcycles, some hybrid models, and two-cylinder engine vehicles.
• Buying and selling – If you are buying or selling a vehicle, a Smog Check is needed if it is more than four model years old.
• Out-of-state vehicles – Out-of-state vehicles being registered in California requires a Smog Check regardless of model year.
Q: What is an "EVAP" Test?
A: The low-pressure evaporation test checks for leaks between your engine and the gas tank. Started in December 2007, it is required by the State of California for vehicles modeled in 1995 and prior (some models are exempt).
Q: How about Diesel vehicles?
A: As of January 1, 2010, diesel vehicles modeled in 1998 and newer, and weighing under 14,000 GVW will need a smog check. The procedures will be different, but we have been trained to perform diesel smog checks.
Q: My car is perfect. Why do I need a FREE retest?
A: While your engine emissions may seem fine, a California smog inspection covers more than what is coming out of your tailpipe. The computer on board of your vehicle, hoses, and wiring under the hood are all part of a smog inspection as required by the state. If any of these components fail, you will be required to repair them and go through another full-smog inspection (State law prohibits partial retests).
Q: What are the environmental benefits of the Smog Check Program?
A: The Smog Check Program has greatly reduced air pollution created by millions of cars in California. According to the California Air Resources Board, the program removes about 400 tons of smog-forming pollutants from California’s air every day.
Q: What happens if my vehicle fails a Smog Check?
A: In order to complete your registration, you will need to obtain the repairs necessary for it to pass its smog check retest.
Q: How often does my vehicle have to be tested?
A: In most cases, your vehicle must be tested every other year. A smog check is also required if you sell your vehicle and it is more than four model years old.
Q: What changed under the new program?
A: The new program uses newer equipment to test for more pollutants and newer test procedures to help identify vehicles that need repair.
Q: What is a Test-Only station?
A: Test-only stations are licensed smog check stations that are only allowed to test cars. State law prohibits them from making repairs.
Q: How will I know if I need to take my car to a Test-Only station?
A: You will be notified on the registration renewal notice sent by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if your vehicle must be inspected at a test-only station.
Q: How can I help my vehicle pass a Smog Check?
A: Performing proper and regular vehicle maintenance according to your owner’s manual, and not tampering with the emissions control equipment are keys to passing smog check.
Q: What is CAP and how do I qualify?
A: The Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) provides financial assistance to repair or retire a vehicle that fails a smog check.
• Repair assistance —You may qualify for up to $500 in repair assistance once you pay the first $650 in repair costs. You may also qualify if your income is within certain levels, regardless of where you got your smog check done.
• Vehicle retirement — If you feel your car is not worth repairing, the State may buy the car from you for $1,500 and have it scrapped at a local dismantler.
Q: What is the difference with a regular smog station and a STAR smog station?
A: You received your DMV renewal notice and discovered it's asking for a smog inspection at a STAR station. No need to panic. What this means is that the DMV has chosen your car to be inspected at a smog station, which is monitored closely by the BAR and must conform to high standards established by the Bureau of Automotive Repairs.
Some STAR stations are only authorized to perform smog inspections. These stations are known as STAR test-only stations. Other STAR-certified smog centers can perform smog inspections as well as smog check repairs. These smog stations are known as STAR Test and Repair stations. Both STAR stations are allowed to perform regular and STAR smog checks.
STAR test-only centers are only authorized to perform smog inspections and are not allowed to perform smog check repairs.
STAR Test and Repair Stations are authorized to perform STAR smog inspections, as well as repair and certify all vehicles.
If the DMV is asking for "Smog certificate required at a STAR station" you can visit either of these smog test center types.
Q: Are you a STAR-certified station?
A: Yes. We are STAR-certified in Lakeside.
Q: Is there an extra charge for a STAR-certified smog test?
A: No, not at Alpine Smog and Auto Repair!
Q: What is the STAR program, anyway?
A: The STAR program began January 1, 2013. STAR stations must meet higher performance standards established by the Bureau of Automotive Repair.
Q: How do I know if I need a STAR-certified smog station?
A: Your registration renewal form will tell you at the top.
Q: Why was my car directed to a STAR station?
A: A random sampling, many older vehicles, and vehicles with high-emitter profiles are directed to STAR stations.
Q: Do you only smog STAR cars?
A: No. We smog everything like diesel, motorhomes, and RV’s!
Q: What are STAR-certified smog station duties and responsibilities?
A: STAR test-only center - Smog test-only centers are authorized by the State of California to perform both Regular and Test-Only smog inspections. They are not allowed to perform any smog repairs. A Test-Only center's main obligation is to perform a non-bias and an accurate smog inspection. They are certified to inspect all DMV required vehicles.
STAR Test and Repair (CAP) - STAR Test & Repair stations are authorized by the Bureau of Automotive Repairs to perform, along with smog check repairs, regular smog inspections, and test-only smog checks. A STAR Test & Repair station is the only type of smog check center, which can inspect, repair, and certify any and all vehicles. These stations are participants of the State's Consumer Assistance Program and are inspected by the State of California monthly.
STAR Test and Repair stations may also perform smog repairs on vehicles participating in the Consumer Assistance Program.
Q: How are vehicles selected for STAR smog check?
A: The state of California uses the following three strategies to determine whether a vehicle is STAR station-designated or not:
• Gross polluters (vehicles which have failed a previous smog inspection with very high-emission readings)
• High-emitter profile vehicles. These are vehicle types designated by the Bureau of Automotive Repair as having high chances of failing the smog inspection.
• A random sample of all vehicles registered in California and being driven on public roadways.
If your vehicle has been selected to undergo a STAR smog check, don't be alarmed. Simply locate a convenient STAR-certified smog station and proceed with the inspection. The smog technician conducting the test can inform you of any serious issues. There are several hundred STAR smog stations throughout California.
Q: How much does a STAR smog check cost?
A: STAR smog stations, as with all smog stations, are independently owned and operated businesses. The owners of these smog test centers or test and repair stations have the right to choose the amount they will charge consumers for their services. Except for an $8.25 State Certificate fee, STAR Test-Only centers and STAR Test and Repair stations will have different prices, typically between $29.95 and $59.95, plus state fee.
STAR Stations stand for excellence.
Any car requiring a smog check may voluntarily have their car tested at a STAR Smog Check Station. These stations have been identified by the State of California as the highest performing in the market and provide a high standard of consumer care. It is in the interest of California’s Clean Air goals that the best performers in the Smog Check Program be supported, so that they can continue to provide excellent service in the market.
Q: How do I find a STAR-certified Station?
A: The easiest way to find a STAR-certified station is to use our zip code station locator. Only Bureau of Automotive Repair-certified STAR stations may be listed in our directory. The certification process will not conclude before the program implementation on January 1, 2013.
Q: Why did the DMV direct me to a STAR-certified Station?
A: Advancements in automotive technology has changed the testing requirements of vehicles. Not all vehicles require the same test. As part of California’s continuing efforts to meet its air quality goal, the smog check market in 2013 will be changed to include different types of tests for different vehicle makes, models, and years.
If this sounds confusing, you are correct! Not every station will have every type of testing equipment to meet your vehicle’s needs. A STAR station is certified for high performance and must meet the requirements of all vehicles in market. STAR is the only one-stop-shop in the market for your testing needs. Look for the red sign with the bold STAR and know for certain you are in a station that can meet your testing needs.