Smog Check Station Types

The Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) licenses and contracts with several different types of Smog Check stations to meet the needs of consumers and their vehicles. Stations are required to post a sign so that consumers can easily identify them. Look for the station's official sign when selecting a station to perform your next Smog Check.

Smog station types graphic

Smog Check Station Types and Services

STAR Stations

STAR stations must meet specified performance standards established by BAR. Some STAR stations are licensed to perform only tests, while others are licensed to perform both tests and repairs. BAR directs a portion of the vehicle fleet to STAR-certified stations for inspection and certification. These are known as "directed vehicles." Additionally, vehicles that fail inspection at very high emissions levels must also receive certification from a STAR-certified station. These vehicles are identified as "gross polluters." The Department of Motor Vehicles registration renewal notice indicates if a vehicle requires inspection at a STAR station.

Test-Only Stations

Test-Only stations are licensed to test and inspect vehicles.

Test-and-Repair Stations

Test-and-Repair stations are licensed to test, inspect, diagnose, and repair vehicles.

Repair-Only Stations

Repair-Only stations are licensed to diagnose and repair vehicles.

Consumer Assistance Program

Under the Consumer Assistance Program (CAP), STAR test-and-repair stations contract with BAR to perform state subsidized emissions-related repairs on vehicles. To learn if you qualify for repair assistance or to obtain an application, click here or call (800) 952-5210.

Referee Centers

Referee Centers are state-contracted facilities that provide specialized inspection services. They perform a number of important functions for consumers, including: assisting consumers with vehicles that have failed Smog Check, inspecting vehicles after citations or noise violations, issuance of Smog Check repair cost waivers, assistance with certain disputes between a station and consumer, certification of vehicles issued Limited Parts Exemptions, inspection of grey market vehicles, specially constructed vehicles, and vehicles with engine changes, and assistance in the resolution of other Smog Check issues. To make an appointment at a Referee Center, call (800) 622-7733.

Consumer Tips

As with other consumer products and services, it is always best to shop around and to seek quality services. Since market forces drive the price of a Smog Check and any related repair work, some stations may charge different prices than others. To find a Smog Check station, click here or call (800) 952-5210.