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Antique and Classic vehicles... 

Are usually defined as a car or truck 25 years old or older, however classic or not by that definition, if your vehicle was made in 1976 or later it must comply with current smog check regulations.  This is because California does not have a rolling 25 or 30 year exemption, rather it has fixed the exemption year at 1975.  In 2012 legislation was introduced under bill S.B 1224 in California to change the cut off date from 1975 to 1981.  However that bill failed passage,499538,499555.  It's always a good idea to verify the current guidelines regarding vehicle emission tests for classic cars at the California DMV.

So here are some tips to help you get your vehicle passed that pesky smog check. Tip:  Beware of the Visual Inspection

If you have aftermarket modifications to your vehicle or if you have removed or altered emissions control equipment there is a very good chance that your vehicle will not pass the visual inspection.  Unfortunately as lamented in many car enthusiast forums it is difficult to pass a smog check if you have aftermarket equipment.  This is especially true since the start of the STAR smog check licensing program.   You can find out more about the STAR program and how it works at this post  Not all aftermarket parts cause issues with a smog check.  Some parts are certified by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).  So if you are considering adding aftermarket parts, make sure they are CARB certified.  You can find more about CARB certified aftermarket parts at this post

The STAR Program and Its' Affect on Classic Car Emission Testing

The STAR program is the states effort to make the emissions testing program more effective and comply with federal clean air guidelines.  In general, this program tracks the pass/fail rate by vehicle type of both a shop and a technician.  It compares the shop/techician rate against the state wide pass/fail rate.  If there is a significant variance then the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) may look into that location and/or technician.  The BAR also sends inspectors posing as customers.  If a shop fails to follow guidelines it will be fined.  If a shop is fined too often, it will lose it's STAR certification.   If a shop is not STAR certified, then it cannot test "Directed" vehicles.  Each year a certain percentage of vehicles are randomly instructed or directed to go to a STAR certified smog check location.  You can see an example of a DMV registration notice directing a vehicle to a STAR station at this post  This population of "Directed" vehicles are in most cases randomly assigned but vehicles that are designated as "gross polluters" are included as well  While randomly selected it is not a small number of vehicles each year.  As such a smog shop could go out of business if it loses its' STAR certification.  In short, I would not hold your breathe that the smog shop technician will "overlook" issues with your vehicle.


The Parts of a Classic Smog Check

If your vehicle is pre-1995 in addition to the standard elements of a smog check test, your vehicle will also get a tail pipe test and an EVAP test.  The standard parts of a smog test are discussed in this check-smog post .  The tailpipe and EVAP tests are not required for most 2000 or newer vehicles that can have an ODBII only test.  More information on an ODBII test is here .  The tailpipe test requires that a sensor is inserted into the tailpipe and then the vehicle is run at various speeds while on a dynamometer.  The sensor will measure the components of the tailpipe emissions making sure they fall within "cutoff" values.  A cutoff value is a number associated with a set of similar vehicles of similar years.  If your vehicles emissions exceed the cut off values you fail the test.

In addition you will need to pass the EVAP test.  EVAP test the Evaporation Control system which prevents the release of gasoline vapors by evaporation into the atmosphere. The actual design of the EVAP system will differ from vehicle to vehicle but they do have one common component which is the charcoal canister. The purpose of the canister is to store gasoline vapors which have evaporated from the vehicle's fuel tank and/or carburetor float bowl (if your car has a carburetor!).  These vapors are then added back into the combustion process.  Preventing gasoline vapors from entering the atmosphere is a large component of the air quality program.  This is why in densely populated areas gasoline stations have a slieve on the gasoline pump handle to seal the connection between the pump handle and the gas tank.  

Get a Smog Check Pre-Test

Smog shops do not like to abort a smog test in progress.  The BAR treats aborted tests with suspicion because in the past a less reputable smog shop would abort a test if a vehicle looked like it was going to fail.  However, you can have a pre-test done which will tell you whether your vehicle will pass or fail without actually taking the test.  This is a good way to identify issues with your vehicle so they can be rectified prior to the actual test. 

Get Your Vehicle Ready for the Test

  1. Make sure your vehicle does not have any aftermarket equipment that will fail visual inspection
  2. Have your vehicle in the best operating condition, perhaps get a tune up and change your oil. In some cases additives are recommended but at we do not endorse any brand or offer that recommendation. 
  3. If you have had work done, operate your vehicle for a few days.  Be aware that when youy have your vehicle worked on it may reset indicators in your ODBII computer.  If you have not operated your vehicle long enough since the indicators were reset, you may not be able to have your vehicle tested. 
  4. If you are short on time, then pay your registration fee on time and then get your vehicle smog checked.  You will not receive your sticker, but you will not be fined a late fee.
  5. Internal combusion engines work best when they are warm.  Drive your vehicle to ensure that it is at the proper operating temperature.

If you do fail your smog check, there are some helpful hints at this check-smog post.


Good Smog Checks in Bakersfield

If you live in bakersfield you can find a good smog check and a great coupon for these two loations:

American Smog 209 N. Chester Ave. BakersField, CA 93308

Smoggies Smog 1300 Airport Dr. BakersField, CA 93308


Good Smog Checks in Pleasant Hill

If you live in Pleasant Hill you can find a good smog check and a great coupon for these two loations:

Accu-Test 1855 Contra Costa Blvd.  Pleasant Hill, CA 94523

Save On Smogs 1250 Contra Costa Blvd Pleasant Hill, CA 94523


Good Smog Checks in San Jose

Reliable Auto Repair is a STAR certified test and repair facility located at 463 Blossom Hill Road Ste G4 in San Jose