What is the Cost of a Smog Check in California?

by Roger Jewell

California law requires that all vehicles (with few exceptions) be inspected and repaired to comply with auto emissions standards to register or renew registration. Residents of certain specified counties are not subject to the emissions inspection law.

Smog Test Requirements

Automobile sellers are responsible for paying for and obtaining a smog inspection as well as all repair costs incurred to comply with the emissions standards. Proof of compliance with the inspection requirement is required for automobile registration and registration renewal every two years.

Exempt Vehicles

Smog inspections are not required for hybrids or electric cars. Older gasoline-, diesel- and natural gas-powered cars, as well as motorcycles and trailers, are exempt from inspections.

Smog Check Fees & Repair Costs

If the repair costs to comply with the law exceed $450 (labor and parts), you can request a hardship waiver. You should be prepared to pay the emissions station an inspection fee of about $19.95 (the fee listed as of Oct. 15, 2010).

Repair Cost Hardship Exceptions and Buyouts

The smog inspection laws provide for establishment of an economic hardship repair cost waiver program. This procedure allows the California Department of Motor Vehicles to waive the repair and compliance requirements when the vehicle's owner is considered "low income." Additionally, pursuant to California's Voluntary Accelerated Vehicle Retirement Program, the DMV has discretion to pay the owner of a non-compliant vehicle up to $1,500 to take a non-compliant car out-of-service. This program is subject to availability of funds, according to the California Health and Safety Code.

About the Author

Roger Jewell has been a professional writer for over 20 years. He is a published author for both the Graduate Group and PublishAmerica, and is also a freelance writer. Jewell is a former attorney and private investigator. He earned his law degree from the University of La Verne School of Law.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Los Angeles Smog image by CanonXTiGuy from Fotolia.com