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Why You Need Smog Check in California

A smog check should be a part of vehicle maintenance so that we can preserve the environment. The air we breathe is a valuable resource, and everyone should do their part so that our children can also enjoy clean and fresh air in the future.

The Smog Check Program in California has dramatically reduced the air pollution caused by millions of vehicles in the state. Smog check inspections are meant to identify cars that have excess emissions and have them repaired.

If you live in Santa Cruz, CA passing a smog test is essential if you want to register your vehicle. The laws and regulations for vehicles that are producing high amounts of smog have been strengthened to lower the pollution level in America. 

Failing a smog test means that you are not allowed to stay on the road. 

What vehicles require a Smog Check?

Gasoline-powered vehicles, alternative fuel vehicles, and hybrid vehicles that are 1976 models and newer require a smog check.

Exemptions to the biennial inspection are eight model years and newer, while four model years and newer don’t need a change of ownership inspection.

Diesel-powered vehicles 1998 models and newer with a gross weight of 14,000 pounds a lower require a Smog Check.

Motorcycles and electric-powered vehicles are currently excluded from the Smog Check Program.

A Smog Check lasts for 20 to 30 minutes, and you get an electronic certificate of compliance issued and stored at the DMV valid for 90 days.

Smog Testing Santa Cruz CA








8 Tips for Passing a Smog Check in Santa Cruz, CA

Make Sure Your Car is Running Right

If your car is not running right, you shouldn’t take it to the shop for a Smog Inspection. There is a big chance that you will fail the testing and waste money on the inspection fee. Diagnose and repair any issues first before having that Smog check. It will save you time and money.

Use Additives

Using fuel additives is a popular way to reduce vehicle emissions and help your car, truck, van, or SUV to pass the emissions test. You just pour the additive in your gas tank while refueling, and you are good to go. 

When mixed with your vehicle's fuel, additives can clean carbon deposits in your engine’s intake and exhaust system, which results in lower emissions, improved combustion, and increased performance. 

Ask your auto repair mechanic for a good additive that you can use for your vehicle to solve vehicle emissions and smog test problems.

Take a Drive

Before you go to the smog test station, you should drive your vehicle for about 20 minutes. This ensures that your engine is warmed up and running at its optimal level. Our engines need to operate at the right temperature for proper combustion. This optimal situation is reached once you drive around for at least 15 to 20 minutes.

Change Oil

Before a smog check, please change your oil first. If your engine's oil is dirty, it may cause your vehicle to fail the smog inspection. Contaminated oils are high in hydrocarbons and will result in a rich mixture in your engine walls. Oil changes should be part of regular vehicle maintenance if you want to pass emissions testing.

Inflate Tires

If you have a 1999 model vehicle or older, it will be driven on a dynamometer, and the smog machine collects a sample of its exhaust. Having the correct tire pressure allows your vehicle to have greater stability and accuracy during the smog exam. The right tire pressure may be a deciding factor if you fail or pass the test. 

Check Engine Light

If your check engine light is on during a smog inspection, that will result in an automatic failure. Visit your mechanic and have the issue fixed before you proceed with smog testing. A smog testing technician can’t refuse to test your vehicle even if he sees that your check engine light is on. They will simply proceed with the test and fail your car, which wastes time and money. This is based on California State law. 

Battery Issues

If your car needed a jump start recently or you just changed your battery, you should wait at least a week before you get a smog inspection. When a vehicle’s computer loses power, it’s internal self-monitors are erased. This happens when you disconnect your battery or experience a low charge. Without these required emission monitors, you will need to drive between 100 to 200 miles for a week to complete the data in your engine control unit. Once you are done, you can now be allowed to pass the smog test.

Perform a Smog Check During Sunny Weather

If you have a 1999 model vehicle or older, it would be best to bring in your car during dry or sunny weather. When your car’s tires are wet, there is a chance to slip or lose traction on the dynamometer. 

This can result in failing the test due to an unstable engine and drivetrain torque. This doesn’t mean that you can’t pass an emissions test during rainy weather, smog machines have a “dry tires” mode which will dry your tires before the test. The added strain on the engine while drying the tires may cause failure in the emissions test.

Get a Smog Check from ASE certified Mechanics

Are you new to California and are excited to hit the road? You should be familiar with the requirements needed to register your vehicle.

When it's time to renew your vehicle registration, you should schedule an appointment with an ASE certified mechanic to do a smog check for your vehicle. It is also better if you choose an auto repair shop that can not only test your vehicle for smog but also repair your car if you fail.

It would be inconvenient to look for an auto mechanic that can diagnose and repair your vehicle to comply with the Smog Check when you can go to an auto shop that offers both testing and repair.

Smog Check experts also recommend maintenance advice so that you can keep your vehicle compliant.

If you just transferred to California, your vehicle must have an initial inspection to register, even if you have a current certificate from your previous state. The California Smog Inspection is comprised of three separate inspections that should be done in order:

  • Emissions inspection
  • Visual inspection
  • Functional inspection

Your vehicle must pass all three to be certified and registered in California.

If your vehicle wasn’t “smogged” last year, it’s time now. We do smogs by appointment. Please give us a call at Water Star Motors, schedule an appointment online, or visit us at 318-A River Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060. We’re open Monday to Friday between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM Let us help you keep clean the air we breathe.

Redeem your $10 off Smog Check for your car here



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