Car Safety Inspections in California

Every state has unique laws concerning vehicle safety inspections, and California has a few special considerations not seen in other states. All California drivers, especially those moving to or driving in the state for the first time, need to understand their obligations as drivers when it comes to vehicle safety inspections. California drivers also need to understand smog inspections and make sure they have them done as required. If you were involved in an auto accident in California, the Bakersfield car accident lawyers at Rodriguez & Associates can meet with you to discuss the possibility of the other driver being at fault for operating a vehicle in a state of disrepair.

Typical annual car safety inspections include checking for a vehicle’s carbon emissions, leaks, fluid levels, and mechanical integrity. These inspections help keep dangerous cars off the road and ensure drivers are not posing a danger to themselves, other drivers, or the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for establishing and enforcing emissions regulations in the United States. Drivers must ensure their cars meet EPA standards and all other requirements set forth by state law. California’s smog inspection requirements are the result of the state’s near-legendary pollution levels, and only certain vehicles require these inspections.

California Smog Inspections

Most California vehicles from model year 1976 or newer will require biennial smog inspections for each registration renewal. Vehicles that are six model years or less old are exempt from smog inspections, but owners must pay an annual smog abatement fee for the first six registration years. Additionally, diesel-powered vehicles from model year 1998 or newer with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 14,000 pounds or less are exempt from smog inspections as well. Drivers who transfer vehicle registrations in California will not need smog inspections as long as the vehicle is four or less years old, but this rule does not apply to diesel vehicles.

Other vehicles exempt from the smog certification requirements include:

  • Electric vehicles.
  • Natural gas-powered vehicles with GVWR less than 14,000 lbs.
  • Gasoline-powered vehicles from the model year 1975 or older.
  • Diesel-powered vehicles from model year 1997 or older with a GVWR less than 14,000 lbs.

If a California vehicle owner wishes to sell a vehicle to another driver, the seller must provide a valid smog inspection certification at the time of transfer or sale. A smog inspection certificate is good for 90 days from the inspection date, and some drivers will need to provide biennial smog inspection reports. It’s important to understand the registration and smog inspection requirements at the county and zip code level as well. A smog inspection is only valid if it takes place at a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) -approved service center.

Ensure Your Compliance

Many vehicle owners sell their cars and buy new ones from other private sellers every day in California. While there is nothing wrong with legitimate good business, both buyers and sellers need to be aware of a vehicle’s model year, inspection requirements, and smog inspection record before agreeing to a sale. Anyone who is unsure about the registration requirements should contact their local DMV office for more information. The California DMV can also be an excellent resource for questions concerning legal title transfers, private vehicle sales, smog inspection certifications, and more. Contact a Bakersfield personal injury lawyer at Rodriguez & Associates to learn more.