Keeping your fleet safe on the road means complying to safety practices and state legislations. If your commercial vehicle is not compliant, renewing registrations can be a challenge. One state requirement is a smog inspection. Although a smog test is not a requirement for all vehicles (more about vehicle exemptions below), knowing what is expected will help you prepare your trucks for the inspection.

In this article, we will talk about the importance of a smog test, what to expect during the emissions check, and how you can prepare your vehicles for the inspection.

What is a Smog Test?

Also known as an emission test, a smog check is a requirement for registering and renewing vehicle registrations. The goal of this state-sponsored program is to reduce vehicle emissions, and ultimately air pollution, by ensuring vehicles do not release excessive tailpipe emissions.

A smog test can be performed only at a licensed smog testing facility. The requirements may differ from state to state, but the goal is the same: ensure that your vehicle does not contribute to air pollution.

How Much is a Smoke Check?

Smog inspection cost vary per state and on the type of inspection that your vehicle is going to have. In most cases, smog tests costs anywhere between $30 and $60. For larger vehicles like commercial trucks, the cost may be higher as testing facilities need more time to complete the inspection.

Additionally, if your vehicle is based in California, expect slightly higher costs as the state has more rigorous procedures. Smog test fees in California cover only the main inspection and the issuance of the Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR). It does not include the State Certificate Fee. Before booking an appointment for a smog test, ask the testing station for the complete breakdown of charges. Some facilities do not include the Electronic Transmission Fee (EFT) or the cost of electronically transferring vehicle information and VIR to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

What Happens During a Smog Check Inspection?

A smog inspection is a three-part process that checks vehicles for the following:

  • Visual inspection – ensures all emission equipment is connected and working properly
  • Functional inspection – checks the vehicle’s on-board or fleet management system for errors
  • Tailpipe emissions inspection – measures the level of pollutants (hydrocarbons, carbon monoxides, and nitrides of oxygen oxides) emitted by the vehicle

The whole process should take about 20 minutes to finish. After the inspection, the testing facility will issue a Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR). This data will also be reflected in the DMV system. Additionally, you will receive a state-issued sticker that proves your vehicle passed the smog check.

What if My Vehicle Fails the Smog Inspection?

Most vehicles fail the inspection due to excessive tailpipe emissions. However, there are other less obvious reasons such as faulty sensors, vacuum leaks, and engine light failure. These things are not immediately noticeable, so fleet maintenance is crucial. The challenge for most fleet managers is keeping track of maintenance schedules. In these situations, a fleet management system is essential for staying on top of maintenance and repairs.

Vehicles that do not pass smog checks need to undergo diagnosis and repair at a licensed facility. There are different smog check repair shops all over the country. If you are in California, you may contact the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) and inquire about their Referee Program. The program is for vehicle owners who believe that their vehicles should have passed the smog test. You may discuss the dispute with the Referee, and if there’s sufficient reason, your vehicle may be eligible for a retest.

Is Your Vehicle Exempted From Smog Checks?

Not all vehicles are required to go through a smog check. If your vehicle is listed below, you may qualify for a smog check exemption.

  • All electric vehicles
  • Gasoline-powered vehicles (1975-year model or older)
  • Gasoline-powered vehicles that are less +than eight years old (model years)
  • Diesel-powered vehicles (1997-year model or older)
  • Diesel-powered vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 14,000 pounds and above

On January 1, 2019, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) updated its smog program legislation. Vehicles that meet the exemption criteria can avoid smog checks by paying the $20 abatement fee.

How to Prepare Your Vehicle for a Smog Inspection

Regular vehicle maintenance can help you increase your chances of passing a smog check. Before the scheduled smog test, have your vehicle assessed by a licensed facility to ensure that all parts are working properly. A reliable fleet management system can help you keep track of repair schedules and ensure that your vehicle is always in top-notch condition.

Flashing lights on the computer dashboard usually indicates a malfunction. To avoid serious damage to the vehicle, have your truck repaired as soon as possible. Check which vehicle parts are covered by the emissions warranty.

Final Thoughts

Managing a fleet of vehicles can be a challenge especially when they need to go through smog checks and other vehicle tests. Netradyne’s fleet management software and dash cams help you see what’s happening on the road and keep you updated on maintenance schedules. With Netradyne, you can track vehicle performance and stay on top of any issues that may arise.


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