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Smog check locations and smog check coupons in the state of California

Smog Check Information

The first "Smog Test" program was initiated in March 1984. The program was started as a result of "SB 33" enacted into law in 1982. The program consisted of a biennial and change of ownership smog check, a "BAR 84" idle emissions test and a visual and practical evaluation of different emission control devices. Licensed stations were limited to a maximum $50 repair work charge and were required to maintain accreditation to perform smog checks and mechanical emissions repair work. This program is generally referred to as the "BAR 84" program.

While leaving the testing process essentially unmodified 1997 saw important changes to the smog test program. In general the program added low income assistance for smog check compliance and initiated a vehicle retirement program. The retirement program arose out of fact that most pollution was created by a minority of vehicles and if those vehicles were removed from the road a significant reduction in pollution would be realized.

  • "AB 42" exempted vehicles manufactured before 1974 from smog check testing. Also required that vehicles 30 years old or older be except from the Smog Check program starting in 2004.
  • "AB 57" created "CAP" a financial assistance program.
  • "AB 208" provided funding for low-income assistance and vehicle retirement
  • "AB 1492" exempted vehicles less than four years old from the biennial smog check

"AB 1105" enacted in 1999 made further modifications to the smog check program. It removed the biennial smog test requirement for all vehicles whose model year was six years old or less. Additionally the Bureau of Automotive Repairs (BAR) could to exempt vehicles which fit a low-emitter profile. The CAP repair assistance program was modified and the retirement amounts paid to drivers scrapping their vehicles was increased.

In perhaps the most dramatic restructuring of the smog check program "AB 2289" the Air Resource Board and the Bureau of Automotive Repair jointly sponsored the legislation in 2010. The program created a new license the "STAR" license which replaced the old "Gold Shield" program. It allowed STAR smog test and repair locations to both repair a vehicle and provide a smog certification. High polluter vehicles and randomly selected vehicles are now directed to STAR smog test locations, rather than smog test-only locations. To improve the quality of testing smog technicians and smog stations have a STAR score. The BAR checks a smog test location testing results against state wide statistics for vehicle profiles. If a station passes or fails vehicles outside of the average the STAR licence can come under review. To help reduce cost, the BAR now allows certain vehicles year 2000 or later whose on board diagnostic system (ODB II) complies with BAR requirements to no longer need a tail-pipe test. According to the BAR this system has saved consumers in 22 states time and money.