FAQ

Have questions that aren't listed here? Call us at (510)451-7664! We'd love to hear from you!


Do I need to make an appointment?
Making an appointment is encouraged, but not required when it comes to smog inspections. Making an appointment for any service needed, smog or otherwise, will ensure that we can take care of you as quickly and efficiently as possible, with minimal need for a wait. Even just giving us a few hours of head notice can drastically improve our ability to get your car needs taken care of as quickly as is possible.

In short, while making an appointment isn't neccessary in all circumstances, it's better for both of us if you have the luxury to do so.


What is your retest policy?
We know that it can be tough when you don't pass the smog inspection, for this reason we offer unlimited free retests until your car or truck passes! Don't have a car or truck? Have an old van that requires additional work to remove the engine cover? No problem! We offer half price retests due to additional work involved in removing the engine cover, if you pull the cover for us, you don't pay for us to do it.

If we aren't busy when you come in, we'll be happy to retest your vehicle on the spot! However, in order to assist you as quickly as possible we usually recommend that you make an optional appointment.


What does a smog test involve?
A smog test is composed of 3 sections: the visual, functional and emissions inspections.

The Visual Inspection is the part of the smog test that involves the technician examining all the emissions related parts on your vehicle to ensure that nothing has been broken, disconnected or modified. This inspection also involves checking for visible smoke from the crankcase or tailpipe. Visible smoke is made up of large particulates which are caught in the filters of the smog machine before they ever reach the section that measures the emissions content, and therefore is not detected during the emissions inspection via any other means.

The Functional Inspection is the part of the smog test that involves verifying that certain emissions related components are doing their job, even if they visually look fine. This includes but is not limited to: verifying the vehicles on board computer does not detect any error codes, verifying the check engine light is functioning properly, checking the ignition timing and making sure it is within specifications and verifying that the EGR valve is functioning correctly. The need for these tests varies depending on the vehicle.

The Emissions Inspection is the part of the smog test where an emissions probe is inserted into a vehicles exhaust. The probe takes an emissions sample and returns it to the emissions analyser for testing. Depending on the vehicle that you have, the emissions inspection may be done while the vehicle is still, or being ran on a dynamometer.

If any of these inspections return an area which has been compromised, the issue will need to be corrected in order to pass the smog inspection.
More information about smog checks can be found at bar.ca.gov


What is the difference between a smog test, a smog inspection and a smog check?
There is no difference between these terms. It is just different terminology which is used to describe the same thing.


Are there different types of smog checks?
Yes, there are. Some vehicles receive testing on a dynamometer, while others are tested while at an elevated idle. Some vehicles are also required to go to a STAR smog station. Newer vehicles receive what's called a D.A.D. smog check.


What is CAP?
CAP stands for the 'Consumer Assistance Program'. It is a state run program to provide assistance to motorists who can't afford to get their cars fixed to pass the smog inspection, as well as for motorists who do not believe their vehicle is worth fixing and would like to retire their vehicle in exchange for money without the need to have a passing smog certificate.

You can get an application for the consumer assistance program here. More information can also be found at the CAP website.


I heard the DMV receives the test results electronically, do I need a smog certificate?
You heard correctly, the DMV no longer receives a paper copy of your smog certificate. Unfortunately however, the DMV does still require an electronic certificate from any vehicle which passes the smog inspection. The certificates are issued by the state, and cost $8.25 each. For that reason, we charge a certificate fee of $8.25 for any vehicle which passes the smog test. It is not possible to perform an official smog inspection on a vehicle without issuing a certificate upon passing.


What is a STAR station?
A STAR station is a smog station which has met certain predetermined criteria from the State of California which allows them to preform a smog inspection on any vehicle. The criteria required includes specific equipment and performance from the station. Each station and inspector is graded according to the state average, and this data is used in determining if the station meets the standards needed to be STAR certified.

You can find more information about the STAR program here at the states website.


What is a DAD smog inspection?
DAD stands for Data Acquisition Device, it is the new standard of testing for vehicles which are newer than model year 2000. A DAD inspection does not require an emissions sample, but instead relies primarily on information gathered from the vehicles on board computer, and the visual inspection from the technician.


I used to be required to go to a 'Test Only' station, do I still need to do that?
For many years, the State of California attempted to combat inaccurate tests by using a certification called 'Test Only' stations. The reasoning was if the station didn't have a conflict of interest, it would be more likely to perform an accurate test. During a recent third party audit of various stations testing accuracy, it was discovered that there was no significant improvement in test accuracy from a test only station as compared to a test and repair station. Due to this, the STAR program was introduced to reward stations based on their ability to perform accurately instead of what they were willing to give up. As such, any former requirement to goto a test only station has been replaced by a need to goto a STAR station.

Short answer, no you don't. But you may be required to go to a STAR station like us.