What are the CA emissions or smog check requirements for vehicle registration? California

Car Registration Smog Check Requirements

Before you register car for the first time in California, you’ll probably have to bring it to a qualified mechanic and get emissions testing.

  • The mechanic does an inspection and measures the amount of pollutants the car puts into the air.
  • If your car passes, the mechanic gives you a certificate stating you passed the smog check.
  • If your car fails, then you’ll need to have it repaired before vehicle registration can be completed.

Keep in mind that if you just bought the car from someone in California, the seller is responsible for the car passing the smog check before it’s sold; the seller is thus liable for repairs.

CA Smog Exemptions

If your vehicle falls into one of these categories, you can get a smog exemption for the DMV registration.

  • Cars (non-diesel) six years old or newer; these pay a “smog abatement fee” instead.
  • Alternative fuel vehicles (electrics and hybrids).
  • 1975 year model or older gas cars.
  • Pre-1998 diesel powered or weighing more than 14,000 pounds (Gross Vehicle Weight).
  • Natural gas powered cars weighing more than 14,000 lbs.
  • Trailers.
  • Motorcycles.
The DMV can tell you at vehicle registration if you're exempt. If you're not exempt, then you can take your vehicle in to an emissions testing station. Car registration will be complete after you show the smog certificate to the CA DMV.

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