Every other time you renew your vehicle registration you must obtain a “smog certificate”―a printout of your vehicle’s emissions test results. You must register your car within 90 days of your emissions inspection.

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Emissions Testing

We test all passenger cars, minivans, trucks and motor homes. We test vehicles directed to Test-Only and Gold Shield Stations. We test diesel vehicles. Smog checks include one free retest within 60 days of original test.

Test Only Stations

If the state determines your vehicle will most likely fail a smog check, the California DMV will send you a registration renewal notice stating whether you must take your vehicle to a test-only station. Owners of vehicles that fall under this High Emitter Profile, (or those who own a vehicle among the 2% randomly selected) will see the following printed on their renewal: Smog Certification Required at Test-Only Center.

By law, the test-only facilities cannot repair your vehicle. You must take it to a Test-Repair or Gold Shield station. For more info on station specifics, visit the official site of the Bureau of Automotive Repair.

Consumer Assistance Program (CAP)

The government provides financial assistance for repair work (or to retire high polluting vehicles) to consumers who qualify. Depending on the availability of funds and the approval of your application, you could be eligible to collect $500 from the state for emissions-related diagnostic and repair services.

For more information (or to check on the status of an existing application) call (866) 272-9642 or visit the Bureau of Automotive Repair site for details and applications.

On that site you will also find a handy program fact sheet, FAQs, and a reference guide in Spanish.