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If you own a car in California, you know that regular smog checks are a necessary part of vehicle ownership. But how often do you really need to get a smog check? In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at smog check requirements in California and help you determine how often you need to get your vehicle tested.

The Basics of Smog Checks in California

In California, the state’s Smog Check Program requires most vehicles to undergo a smog check every two years. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, vehicles that are six or fewer model years old are exempt from smog checks. Additionally, certain hybrid and electric vehicles are also exempt.

Determining Your Smog Check Schedule

To determine your specific smog check schedule, you’ll need to look at your vehicle’s registration renewal notice. This notice will indicate whether or not your vehicle is due for a smog check during the current registration cycle.

If you’re unsure about whether or not your vehicle is due for a smog check, you can also check the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) website. The BAR’s Smog Check Program page includes information on smog check requirements and exemptions.

What Happens If You Don’t Get a Smog Check?

If you fail to get a required smog check, you may not be able to renew your vehicle registration. Additionally, driving a vehicle without a current smog certificate can result in fines and penalties.

Tips for Passing Your Smog Check

If you want to avoid the hassle and expense of having to re-test your vehicle, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of passing a smog check. Regular vehicle maintenance is essential for keeping your car running cleanly. Make sure you’re keeping up with recommended maintenance tasks, such as oil changes, air filter replacements, and spark plug replacements. Additionally, consider using a fuel additive designed to help reduce emissions.


While smog checks may seem like an inconvenience, they’re an important part of keeping California’s air clean and healthy. By understanding smog check requirements and taking steps to keep your vehicle running cleanly, you can minimize the hassle and expense of smog checks and help do your part for the environment.


  1. California Bureau of Automotive Repair. (n.d.). Smog Check Program. Retrieved from
  2. (n.d.). Smog Check Requirements and Exemptions. Retrieved from
  3. California Air Resources Board. (n.d.). Smog Check FAQ. Retrieved from