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STAR Program

STAR Station

STAR stations are Smog Check stations that meet higher performance standards established by the Bureau of Automotive Repair. Some STAR stations are licensed to perform only tests, while others are licensed to perform both tests and repairs. The station is required to post a sign on the services it performs.

State law requires that a percentage of vehicles have their Smog Check Inspections performed at a STAR station. If your DMV renewal notice states your vehicle requires a Smog Check at a STAR station, you must take your vehicle to a STAR station for an inspection. 



New Smog Check Test

Smog Check Program's Updated Test Technology

Californians getting Smog Checks today may notice that the traditional tailpipe test used for many years has been replaced by a quicker, computer-based test for gasoline-powered cars model-year 2000 and newer, and for most diesel vehicles that are model-year 1998 and newer.

This updated test uses the diagnostic capabilities of the vehicle's computer system instead of the traditional tailpipe probe to measure the vehicle's emissions. This On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) system gathers information and determines if the vehicle's emission control systems are operating properly. A visual inspection of emission control components is still required as well.

The OBD only method of testing vehicles is the result of 2010 legislation (AB 2289-Eng) which is designed to improve the Smog Check Program and further reduce air pollution. The Smog Check program removes hundreds of tons of smog-forming pollutants from California's air every day.

Gasoline-powered vehicles model-year 1999 and older will continue to receive Smog Checks using a tailpipe probe as well as the OBD test.

Hybrid Vehicles

Hybrid vehicles have always been subject to Smog Check inspections. However, since their introduction to the California market in 2000, hybrid vehicles could not be properly tested using the traditional tailpipe test. During a traditional Smog Check, emissions are measured at low speeds or idle rates. At these lower speeds, however, hybrids switch to their electric motors, making it impossible to measure the emissions of their gasoline engines. The OBD only test now makes it possible to test these vehicles. It is important to remember that hybrids have internal combustion engines which generate pollution.

Registration renewal notices for hybrid vehicles needing a Smog Check will begin going out in the mail starting in April 2015 (for registrations due in July 2015). As with other vehicles, owners selling their hybrid vehicles are required to have a change of ownership Smog Check inspection done before they can sell their vehicles. Smog Checks are also now required for all out-of-state hybrid vehicles registering in California for the first time.

Smog Check Requirements

A Smog Check is required every other year for registration renewal of:
  • 1976 and newer model-year gas-powered, hybrid, and flex-fuel vehicles
  • 1998 and newer model-year diesel-powered vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 14,000 pounds and less
  • Vehicles that are six model-years old and newer are not subject to the every-other-year Smog Check requirement since newer vehicles are considered cleaner, and less likely to fail a Smog Check.
  • Vehicles four model-years old and newer do not require a Smog Check upon change of ownership.
  • Note: These exceptions are not applicable to diesel-powered vehicles.

About Smog Check

The Smog Check Program is administered by the California Department of Consumer Affairs' Bureau of Automotive Repair and is an important part of the State's efforts to improve the quality of the air we breathe. The Smog Check Program removes hundreds of tons of smog-forming pollutants from California's air every day. Smog Check inspections are designed to identify vehicles with excess emissions so they can be properly repaired to meet state and federal emissions standards.


Six things you should consider doing before taking your car in for a smog inspection:
  1. Do not subject your vehicle to a Smog Inspection if it does not run right. Chances are that it will fail the inspection and you will lose your inspection fee. Seek repair assistance first. This will save you time and money.
  2. Drive your vehicle for at least 20 minutes prior to arriving at the smog station. This will ensure your vehicle is properly warmed up and is running at it's optimum level. Remember your engine is a fuel burning machine. To ensure proper combustion it needs to have sufficient time to warm-up and this can be accomplished through driving for at least 10 to 15 miles.
  3. The use of fuel additives such as Blue Sky 3 In 1 Fuel Conditioner can be very helpful in lowering emission levels. Fuel additives are generally poured into a vehicle's gas tank during fuel refilling and mixed with ordinary fuel. Their purpose is to clean carbon deposits with in your engine's intake and exhaust systems, allowing for both fuel and air to flow freely within its passages, thus lowering emission levels and improving overall engine performance. These products offer helpful solutions to various vehicle emission problems.

    To find out more about Blue Sky 3 In 1 Fuel Conditioner please visit Blue Sky Clean Air, Inc. at www.blueskycleanair.com.

  4. During the smog inspection, the smog technician may need to drive your vehicle on a dynamometer as a part of the smog test process. Making sure your vehicle's tire pressures are even and correct will allow the vehicle to be driven with greater stability and accuracy during the exam. This will improve the overall emissions output of your vehicle by allowing the engine to maintain a constant and steady load.
  5. If it's close to your next oil change interval, go ahead and do it before the smog test. The PCV (positive crank ventilation) system of your vehicle is designed to allow your engine to breath fumes located in oil compartments (oil pan, ect.). The fumes are then burned through the combustion process. If the oil in your engine is contaminated due to inadequate oil changes, it may very well cause your vehicle to fail the inspection. Contaminated oils are high in Hydrocarbons and will present a rich mixture to the engine chambers (too much fuel). So, avoiding oil changes not only causes pre-mature engine wear but can also cause your vehicle to fail the smog inspection. Change the oil.
  6. Make sure the Check Engine light is not illuminated. A constantly illuminated Check Engine light is an automatic smog failure. A certified repair shop can diagnose the check engine light condition and offer you an evaluation and estimate. The home mechanic may also diagnose a Check Engine light malfunction via special Check Engine codes retrieval tools, available at most auto parts stores.

courtesy of smogtips.com