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Clean Air Smog FAQ

Why Do I Need A Star Certified Smog?

The majority of cars directed to Star Certified stations are selected by application of High Emitter Profile (HEP), which identifies vehicles most likely to fail the smog check. It is said that roughly around 36% of cars are also randomly selected to be directed to a Star Certified facility. From our experience it seems that usually cars 10 years or older are most likely required to be done at a Star Certified facility.

What Is The Consumer Assistance Program?

The Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) provides financial assistance for qualified consumers whose vehicles fail their biennial (every-other-year) Smog Check. 

CAP offers two options for consumers whose vehicles fail their biennial Smog Check:

-Repair Assistance: Qualified consumers can receive financial assistance toward emissions-related repairs to help their vehicles pass their Smog Check inspection. Approved applicants must take their vehicles to a Gold Shield repair station for repairs. Gold Shield stations are licensed Smog Check facilities that are independently owned and under contract with the State of California.

Vehicle Retirement: If your car fails the Smog Check the State will purchase your car in its condition for up to $1000. There is no income requirement. The only requirement is that the vehicle fails its biennial Smog Check.

I Was Told I Failed For Hc. What Is Hc?

Hydrocarbons (HC) are the component of fuels that produce energy. HC emissions from a vehicle are basically fuel that passes through your engine without being burned. High levels of HC emissions indicate incomplete fuel combustion, either the result of a misfire or of low engine compression. 

Common causes of high HC levels are:
-faulty spark plugs, spark plug wires
-incorrect ignition timing adjustment 
-lean air/fuel ratio
-vacuum leak in the engine
-low cylinder compression

What Cars Do Not Need A Smog Check?

Currently exempt from Smog Check requirements are:
-Diesel vehicles 1997 and older
-Vehicles that are 1975 and older

What Is A Gross Polluter Vehicle?

If your exceeds a certain level of emission levels it will be labeled as a Gross Polluting vehicle. The emission level at which a vehicle fails as a Gross Polluter varies according the vehicle type and year. All cars that fail as a Gross Polluter can only get tested at a Test Only station.

What Is A Pretest?

A Pre Test inspection is a Smog Check in which the State of California is not notified of the results. This is a good option to try if you are unsure if your car will pass or not and want to avoid being labeled as a "Gross Polluter." Keep in mind that if you pass the Pre Test inspection you still are not issued a certificate until you pass the official Smog Check.

Can I Still Get A Smog Check If My Hood Wont Close?

You can still get a smog check even if your hood will not close. The only issue would be if your hood will not open as the technician would need to open the hood to inspect the engine.

How Long Does A Smog Check Take?

Depending on the Smog Check station, the test could take anywhere from 10-45 minutes.

Why Does My Car Need To Go Over Those Rollers?

The dynomometer (rollers) are used to simulate your car in driving conditions. By testing your car while driving we are getting a sample of what your emissions look like when you are driving your car on the street.

Okay, I Passed My Test, What Now?

Congratulations. We automatically send a copy of your certificate to the DMV so they are already notified that you passed. All you have to do now is pay for your registration either online, by going to the DMV personally, or you can mail in the bottom portion of your renewal notice with a check for your registration payment.

How Often Do I Need To Get A Smog Check?

Your registration renewal Smog Check is due every two years. If you plan to sell your car or transfer the title the Smog Check is good for 90 days.

I Just Got My Car Smogged Out Of State. Do I Need To Get Another One? 

To register your vehicle in California it is required to be inspected in a California certified Smog Check station.

I Dont Have Enough Time To Get My Car Smogged By The Deadline. What Can I Do?

You definitely want to get your Smog Check done to renew your registration as soon as possible. If you are unable to get it done in time, one of the things that we would suggest is sending in your registration payment first. This way you will atleast avoid the late fee. After doing so the DMV will send you a notice notifying you that your registration is not complete because you still need a Smog Check.

How Long Does A CAP Application Process Take?

The CAP program usually takes about 3-4 weeks taking into account the shipping time of your application and your confirmation letter.

Will My Modified Car Pass Smog?

It all depends on what kind of modified parts you have. As long as your modified parts are C.A.R.B. legal then it should be able to pass the visual inspection. All other cases will need to be inspected by a Smog Check Referee Station to ensure that the parts were installed correctly and are not harmful to the environment.



Clean Air Smog STAR Certified
Clean Air Smog
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