General California Smog Information | HOME Page

Not all vehicles must get a Smog Check. Additionally, some vehicles only need a Smog Check when they are being sold or being registered in California after previously being registered in another state. Whether or not a vehicle needs a Smog Check depends on the type of vehicle, the model-year, and the area in which the vehicle is registered.

Some vehicles are exempt from the Smog Check program

Legislation enacted during 2004 made several changes in motor vehicle Smog Check exemptions that will become effective next year. Following is a summary of the revised exemptions and the effective date of each change:

Beginning January 1, 2005, vehicles 6 or less model-years old are exempt from the biennial Smog Check inspection requirement. For vehicles with registration renewals due in the 2006 calendar year, this exemption includes model-years 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Beginning January 1, 2005, vehicles 4 or less model-years old are exempt from the Smog Check inspection requirement upon change of ownership and transfer of title transactions with DMV. In 2006, this exemption includes model-years 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Beginning April 1, 2005, the 30-year rolling exemption has been repealed. Instead, vehicles 1975 model-year and older will be exempt. Therefore, 1976 model-year and newer vehicles will continue to be subject to biennial inspection indefinitely.

Beginning April 1, 2005, vehicles being initially registered in California that were previously registered in another state are exempt if the vehicle is a 1975 and older model-year vehicle. Newer vehicles, the first 6 model years, are not exempted upon initial registration in California. These vehicles are required to undergo a Smog Check Inspection.

Vehicle Exemptions

Yes, I need a Smog Check

Change of Ownership Areas vs. Basic and Enhanced Areas

Most areas of the state require vehicles to have a Smog Check performed every two years, when being sold, and when being initially registered in California. These areas are referred to as the state's Basic and Enhanced Areas. However, Change of Ownership Areas only require a Smog Check when the vehicle is being sold or initially registered in California. You can determine the Smog Check area you are in by calling the Department of Consumer Affairs/Bureau of Automotive Repair toll-free at 1-800-952-5210 or by checking the ZIP Code Locator on this website.

Yes, I need a Smog Check

How do I know if my vehicle needs a Smog Check?

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will note on your DMV Renewal Notice whether a Smog Check is required to reregister your vehicle. In addition, an information insert explaining the Smog Check Program requirements should be included in that mailing.

No Smog Check required on sales within immediate family

Section 4000.1 (d)(2) of the California Vehicle Code exempts from the change of ownership Smog Check requirement vehicles being sold or transferred between certain family members, such as parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, siblings, or spouses.

Current law exempts vehicles 30-model-years old and older from the Smog Check program.

The Consumer Assistance Program is available at participating Gold Shield stations for motorists who need assistance (up to $500) in repairing a vehicle when it fails a biennial (every other year) Smog Check. Click here to learn more about the Consumer Assistance Program and to obtain an application, or visit us a www.smogcheck.ca.gov.

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