If your vehicle fails a biennial smog check, you have several options to meet your smog check obligations.
- Have your vehicle diagnosed and repaired at a licensed Test and Repair station.
- Apply for financial assistance for emissions-related repairs from the Consumer Assistance Program (CAP).
- Seek a Repair Cost Waiver through the Referee System.
If you choose to have your vehicle diagnosed and repaired, keep in mind that all emission related repairs to correct a smog failure must be performed by a licensed smog technician at a licensed station.
If your vehicle is directed to a Test-Only or Gold Shield station, repairs cannot be performed at the Test-Only station, but the final test after repairs may be done there, or at a Gold Shield station.
The Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) consists of a Vehicle Retirement Program and a Repair Assistance Program. In order to participate in CAP, you must submit a CAP application and receive approval before attempting to repair or retire the vehicle. Please contact CAP for further information regarding the Vehicle Retirement and Repair Assistance Programs.
The Repair Cost Waiver process is available if you have had some repairs performed to reduce emissions and cannot afford further repairs to pass the smog test. The Repair Cost Waiver will allow you to register your vehicle for one biennial cycle, even if the vehicle still fails a smog test. To be eligible for a Repair Cost Waiver, the vehicle must not be tampered with, and have at least $450 of emission related repairs performed by a licensed technician at a licensed station. The Repair Cost Waiver is issued by the Referee.
For vehicles 2000 and newer, the new on-board diagnostic (OBD) computer check, slated for deployment mid-2014, simplifies the smog check process by eliminating the tailpipe test altogether. This leaves the OBD computer test and a visual inspection to be completed. For drivers in San Diego, this means greater convenience, as inspection times and costs will be lessened.
The new device that is going to check the OBD computer is called the Data Acquisition Device, a.k.a. DAD.The software is known as the OIS. This device plugs into these newer vehicles usually through a port located underneath the steering wheel, and will give the smog technician all the data they need to identify the vehicle and check the readiness status of all the emissions components.
This system is less intrusive and does not put a load on the drive train
like the old test did.
For vehicles between years 1976 -1999, the smog check remains relatively the same with an acceleration simulation mode (ASM) test. OBD computer check (1996 and newer), and a visual inspection.