What Happens If Your Car Fails The Smog Test In California?

Your smog test is a vehicle registration requirement for the State of California by the DMV. You have two options if your vehicle smog check does not pass: fix the damaged components or stop driving your car. If your smog check fails, your DMV registration can’t be renewed.

Emission Repair Cost

The cost could come as a surprise once you fail a car emissions test and you decide to seek repairs. It is costly to fix many of the issues that may cause your smog check to fail. A replacement catalytic converter is routinely between $1,000 and $2,000 for part and labor. However, an EGR failure on a Ford 6.0-liter engine could run very well for several thousand dollars, involving a new EGR valve, cleaning or replacement of the oil cooler, and the labor to change them.

Often the only fix needed is a new fuel filler cap or a minor repair such as an EVAP purge control solenoid. You might get lucky. There’s a chance you could get away with a $200 bill, but that’s not the rule.

How To Pass A Smog Test?

  • Be proactive
    As soon as you get a registration renewal notice calling for a smog check, mark your calendar and begin preparing.  Every two years, or before selling a vehicle, most states require emission checks, but prices, specifications and methods of testing differ. For instance, a dynamometer test is used by some stations, especially for older cars, which allows the wheels to turn and simulate driving conditions. So review your note to see if your vehicle needs to be taken to a particular form of station.


  • Conduct necessary maintenance
    The manual for your car owner specifies appropriate repairs at various mileage intervals. Before getting your car checked, discuss any required service objects. But don’t just wait for a smog inspection to do routine maintenance. Perform oil changes and tuneups on a regular basis and make sure your tires are fully inflated. Then, you’ll be ready when a smog test is needed. You should also choose to use a fuel injector cleaner, which can help clean your engine’s carbon deposits and minimize emissions.

  • Clear your engine light controls
    If your engine control light is on, you have an issue that needs to be fixed immediately. Problems that cause the engine light to be checked can require inexpensive fixes, such as Problems that cause the engine light to be checked can require inexpensive fixes, such as Find out what causes your engine light to illuminate and repair it. But you need to drive even after repairs that clear the control engine light, before the car’s computer verifies that all operating systems are functioning properly. That’s why it’s such a helpful next step.


  • Get your car pre-checked.
    Some Auto stores offer a free diagnostic review that you can use to pre-test your car for readiness for smog-check. These tests are not for smog tests alone, but they will alert you to any remaining problems. This is particularly helpful if you have just done repairs or you may struggle if you have an older car you’re worried about.

Are You Looking for a Smog Shop You Can Trust?

If you’re looking for a licensed smog check technician trusted by thousands of happy customers, look no further than autoTECH Blackhawk. Why? We differ from other automotive repair stops because we are a relationship shop. This means that the more of your car repair needs we support you with, the better able we are to customize our recommendations based on your driving habits and needs. Whether you want to keep the daily driver in ‘good enough’ condition, style your new car so that it’s customized just for you, maintain your favorite car in ‘like new’ condition, or even train your whole family to be more knowledgeable about cars – we partner with you to ensure that your cars meet your needs. We also offer an industry-leading 3-Year/36,000 mile warranty, so we only use Original Equipment and manufacturer recommended products. Contact us now to book your no-contact, friendly appointment! We truly value your trust and your business, so thank you for staying local with your auto repair needs.

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