As California drivers, we have a responsibility to keep our vehicles in good quality and repair any defects if necessary. To protect the safety of drivers on the road, California requires that all eligible vehicles in the state undergo a vehicle safety inspection to help keeps the roads safe and decrease car accidents. While not all vehicles have to undergo an inspection, the majority of drivers are subject to this requirement. It is important to receive your vehicle safety inspection as mandated by the state.
California Vehicle Inspection Requirements
Most drivers in California have to undergo a vehicle inspection once every two years. If you do not receive your emissions test, you could face certain penalties such as fines and registration denial. You will bring your vehicle to a licensed inspection station near you and pay a small fee between $30 to $70, depending on the size of your vehicle.
California’s annual safety inspections will check for any damage or limitations to the following mechanical functions and features of the car.
- Fluid levels
- Any potential leaks
- Mechanical integrity
- Carbon emissions
The carbon emissions, or smog, the portion of the California vehicle inspection is especially crucial. Smog can create dangerous air quality levels in California cities and is a serious concern in major metropolitan areas, including Riverside and Orange County. Your vehicle will have to meet smog emissions requirements set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency and California state law.
After you receive your smog emissions inspection, the inspection station will provide you with a smog certification that reports your vehicle’s results. The station should send an electronic report of your report to the Department of Motor Vehicles, and the certification will be valid for 90 days. You will have to complete your registration renewal within this 90-day timeframe.
Exemptions to the California Vehicle Safety Inspection
While many vehicles in California will have to receive an inspection each year, you may not have to undergo an inspection if you own a certain vehicle. If you have a vehicle from a model year in the range between 1976 to the present, you most likely have to receive an inspection. Exemptions to California’s vehicle safety inspection requirements are as follows.
- If you have a vehicle that is six model years old or newer, you will not need an emissions test. However, you will need to pay a $20 smog abatement fee each year.
- Electric vehicles and motorcycles do not have to undergo an emissions test.
- Diesel-powered vehicles older than the model year 1997 and natural gas-powered vehicles with weight ratings of less than 14,000 pounds do not need an emissions test.
- If you are transferring registration of a car that is less than four years old, you will not need to get an emissions test unless the vehicle runs on diesel.
What Happens If You Fail a Vehicle Inspection?
If your vehicle fails a mechanical or emissions portion of the safety inspection, the state will require you to seek repairs as soon as possible. Different inspection stations throughout the state offer these services, and the inspectors could repair your vehicle at that station.
You will have to pay for these repairs out of pocket, which can be a financial burden on some people. If you cannot afford to pay for the repairs to your vehicle, the state of California will provide financial assistance up to $500 if you meet the eligibility requirements.
If you do not receive a vehicle inspection, you could face penalties from the Department of Motor Vehicles such as fines, and inaction to maintain a safe vehicle could put you at risk for liability in a car accident. It is important to receive these inspections whenever the Department of Motor Vehicles requires you to in order to uphold your duty of care.
Maintaining vehicle safety is extremely important to keep California’s roads safe in general. You do not want another driver’s brakes to go out or for an engine to explode while you are driving. If you are in an accident with another driver and you believe failure to receive a safety inspection may be the cause, contact an attorney as soon as possible.