Fremont Star Smog FAQ
Why do I have to smog my car?
In California, you'll need to get a smog test done when you're registering a new car in California, selling your existing car, or renewing your registration and your renewal notice states "Smog Certification Required".
But not all cars are required right? How do I know if my car is exempt from a smog test?
Right, not all cars are required to have a smog check done. You'll be exempt if your vehicle is:
- a hybrid vehicle or electric vehicle
- a model older than 1975
- diesel powered 1997 model and older, or with a Gross Vehicle Weight rating of more than 14,000lbs
- motorcycle (although this may change soon!)
- a trailer
- a natural gas car with a Gross Vehicle Weight rating of more than 14,000lbs
I have a newer car, do I need a smog check too?
Lucky you! Some cars that are six model-years old or less are excluded, or "abated", from the smog test. Also, if your car is four or less model-years old, you're also abated from the smog test when you sell your car.
What is the difference between a "Test and Repair Station" vs. a "Test Only Station"?
Smog and Repair stations are allowed to do a smog test on your car, as well as make any necessary repairs to your car if needed. Typically, if your car is considered to most likely fail a smog check, the DMV will instruct you to have your test done at a Test Only Station. Most likely, this is to maintain the integrity of the smog tests being done and keep people from over-charging for fraudulent repairs.
What's the deal with those "STAR Certified Stations"?
STAR is the new program that started on January 1, 2013 that replaced the Gold Shield and Test Only program. STAR stations are smog check stations that meet higher performance standards established by the Bureau of Automotive Repair. STAR stations come as both "Test Only" stations, as well as "Test and Repair" stations. Your DMV renewal notice will indicate whether you need to test your car at a STAR certified station, and you'll know with all the signs indicating the station is STAR certified. For more information on the STAR program, visit: smogcheck.ca.gov
It's so confusing!! Why do they make it so difficult?
Who knows? If you're ever in doubt, feel free to give us a call and we'll happily help you out.
Ok, so what do I need to bring to the smog test?
Most importantly, bring your car. Next, bring your DMV renewal notice if you have it. If not, we'll still be able to test your car. That's pretty much it.
What if my car fails the smog test?
If your car fails, the good news is we offer a free retest. The bad news is, you'll have to bring your car to a Test and Repair station, or any mechanic that knows how to diagnose the issues. Our technician will explain to you the reason why your car failed. You can also apply for financial assistance through the Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) via the state.
Can you fix my car so it passes?
Sorry, but we're prohibited by law to perform any repairs or diagnosis on your car. It would defeat the purpose of a test-only inspection.
I'm fascinated by all of this, where can I learn more?
If you're serious, you can go to a few places that will give your more information:
- www.smogtips.com/typesofstations.cfm (SmogTips.com)
- www.dmv.ca.gov/vr/smogfaq.htm#Star (STAR Program)
- www.smogcheck.ca.gov/ (CA Bureau of Automotive Repair)
- www.dmv.org/ca-california/smog-check.php (California DMV)
- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Smog_Check_Program (Wikipedia)