- BAR License #273724 - (c) 2013 All Rights Reserved.

StarSmogExpress header

OPEN during COVID restrictions

taking recommended precautions

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 8 model years old and newer than 1976 (in 2019, model years 1976 – 2011 must be smogged).  This does not include motorcycles and two-cylinder engine vehicles.

Buying/Selling a vehicle - A Smog Check is needed if it is more than 4 model years old. (In 2018, model year 2014 must be smogged)

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. It is required by the State of California for vehicles 1995 and prior (some models are exempt).  For the official FAQ provided by the State’s Bureau of Automotive Repair, click here.


Q: How about Diesel vehicles ?

A: Diesel 1998 and newer, and weighing under 14,500 GVW will need a smog check.  Procedures are different, but we do 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 also the computer on board of your vehicle, hoses, and wiring under the hood. 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). At Smog Express Richmond, we give you the peace of mind that you can always return to us without being double-charged.  Check out our Tips to passing a smog test here.


Q: What are the environmental benefits of the Smog Check Program ?

A: It 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: To complete your registration, you need to obtain the repairs necessary for it to pass. With us, your retest is FREE of charge, within 1 month !


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 4 model years old.


Q: What is a Test-Only station? A Star Certified one ?

A: A licensed Smog Check station that is only allowed to test cars.  State law prohibits them from making repairs, so you are sure our test is unbiased.

A Star certified station has proven its performance and accuracy to the Bureau of Automotive Repair, and is allowed to smog any vehicle, even gross polluters.


Q: How will I know if I need to take my car to a Star certified station ?

A: You will be specifically notified on the registration renewal notice sent by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).


Q: How can I help my vehicle pass a Smog Check ?

A: Perform proper & regular vehicle maintenance according to your owner’s manual, and do not tamper with the emissions control equipment.


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 — If your DMV renewal notice requires a Smog Check at a Test-Only station, you may qualify for up to $500 in repair assistance once you pay the first $100 in repair costs. You may also qualify, if your income is within certain levels, to a $20 co-pay only

Vehicle retirement — If your car is not worth repairing, the State may buy the car from you for $1,000 and have it scrapped at a local dismantler.

You can download the CAP application (English), Programa de Assistencia al Consumidor (Spanish), or call (800) 952-5210.