A smog check is a program implemented by the state to ensure that the air being breathed is not being overly contaminated by the emissions produced by moving vehicles. Here are a few things you should know about the check and tips on how to ensure that your vehicle will pass the test.

A Smog Check Overview

When you take your car in for its inspection, it is being tested at a state licensed facility by technicians who are trained to adjust the settings based on individual systems. While there are a few minor exceptions, the majority of the vehicles on the road today are subjected to the smog check. This includes hybrids and vehicles that utilize alternative forms of fuel, in addition to the traditional automobiles that are gas-powered, as long as they were built in 1976 or later. Diesel-powered vehicles are subject to a later date. Motorcycles, however, receive an exemption from the program as do vehicles that are electric powered.

While it is a good idea to keep track of the requirements and dates surrounding your particular vehicle, the Department of Motor Vehicles will send a registration renewal notice to you when your vehicle is coming due. This notification will also instruct you in the case of any specialty directives that your particular vehicle might require. It is best to take the notice and ensure all the vehicle information is correct and your results are submitted and filed properly.

Tips to Pass the Test

When you arrive at the testing station, your vehicle will be tested exactly the way you bring it in. This means you should make sure it is currently functioning correctly to avoid failing as there will be no repairs done onsite. Tires should be properly inflated and engine oil should be recently changed. If your check engine light is on, take care of the issue prior to being tested as it will immediately result in an emissions failure. Spend a little time—about 20 minutes or so—driving on the road before heading to the smog check so your system is warmed up and operating at its optimum temperature. Avoid being tested during wet weather as it can have negative effects on your tires’ performance. Also hold off if you have recently replaced your battery or disconnected it for any reason; this can have an impact on internal monitors and erase pertinent information. In this case, it is best to wait about a week before heading to the smog check.

Do not be caught off guard by failing to have proper information with you regarding your vehicle’s description. This includes the year, model, engine size, and make, as well as any other telling details that the technician needs to perform an accurate test. Be prepared the first time you go to avoid having to return at a later date.