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History of Smog Check in California

Clean air is everyone's job!

1972 The Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) is established within the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) with enactment of the Automotive Repair Act (SB 51, Statutes of 1971). The Act provides BAR with licensing and regulating authority over automotive repair dealers.

1972 The CHP operates the Motor Vehicle Inspection Program, which collects emissions data from vehicles during roadside inspections.

1974 The CHP begins issuing "Notices of Correction" to operators of vehicles exceeding pollution standards.

1975-78 DCA/BAR conducts loaded-mode tests in Riverside to gather inspection and repair data.

1977 Amendments to the federal Clean Air Act require states to comply with federal emission standards, prompting California begin the process of creating a statewide vehicle inspection and maintenance program.

1979-84 BAR administers a contractor-run inspection network in the South Coast Air Basin, performing several million inspections on vehicles undergoing a change of ownership.

1982 California becomes the 20th state in the nation to adopt legislation creating a vehicle inspection and maintenance (Smog Check) program (SB 33).

1984 BAR begins administration of the new Smog Check Program.

1990 Responding to amendments to the federal Clean Air Act, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) calls for enhanced vehicle emissions testing through a centralized state-run inspection network. California leads a national multi-year effort to create state flexibility in the design of enhanced inspection and maintenance programs.

1995 California adopts its enhanced version of the Smog Check Program, which begins with the cost limit for vehicles requiring emissions repairs changing from a sliding scale amount based on model-year to a $450 minimum for all vehicles (AB 2018, Statutes of 1994; AB 63, Statutes of 1995).

1996 BAR implements a major enhancement to the program, as stations throughout the state transition to an electronic system of communicating Smog Check results to DMV and BAR, utilizing a Vehicle Information Database capable of storing millions of test records.

1997 BAR implements another significant enhancement to the program by having privately-owned licensed Smog Check Test-Only stations as the only entities authorized to inspect and certify vehicles identified as gross polluters (AB 2515, Statutes of 1996).

1997 BAR implements a directed vehicle program that identifies likely high-emitting vehicles, and requires they be repeated and certified at licensed Smog Check Test-Only stations (AB 2515, Statutes of 1997).

1998 BAR implements a major shift in emissions inspection technology to measure a vehicle's NOx emissions, a major smog precursor. Stations in the state's heaviest polluted areas are required to perform a loaded-mode Acceleration Simulation Mode (ASM) test on vehicles using a dynamometer that simulates certain driving conditions. A two-speed idle (TSI) test is still performed in other less-polluted areas of the state. (AB 2515, Statutes of 1997).

1998 Vehicles that are four model-years and newer are exempt from the biennial Smog Check requirement (AB 1492, Statutes of 1997).

2000 BAR implements the Consumer Assistance Program to provide financial assistance to eligible motorists to repair or retire a vehicle that fails a Smog Check (SB 198, Statutes of 1994).

2004 BAR implements the enhanced Smog Check Program in the San Francisco Bay Area (AB 2637, Statutes of 2002).

2005 Vehicles that are six model-years and newer are exempt from the biennial Smog Check requirement. Similarly, vehicles that are four model-years and newer are exempt from the change of ownership Smog Check requirement (SB 1107, Statutes of 2004).

2008 A visible smoke test is added to the Smog Check Program for all model-year vehicles (AB 1870, Statutes of 2006).

2007 After years of extensive study, certification of equipment, and development of test procedures, a low pressure fuel evaporative test (LPFET) is finally added to the Smog Check Program for 1995 and older model-year vehicles (SB 629, Statutes of 1994).

2009 Directed vehicles and gross polluters are authorized to be inspected and certified at Test and Repair stations meeting certain performance standards, in addition to Test-Only stations, under a new Gold Shield Program.

2010 Diesel vehicles model-years 1998 and newer up to 14,000 lbs. GVWR are added to the Smog Check Program (AB 1488, Statutes of 2007).

2013 BAR implements the major recommendation from a 2009 published study by establishing inspection-based performance standards for Smog Check stations. The new STAR Program, which replaces the Gold Shield Program, requires all licensed Smog Check stations to meet these standards to be eligible to inspect directed vehicles (AB 2289, Statutes of 2010).

2014 BAR implements enhanced On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) testing for most 2000 and newer model-year vehicles (AB 2289, Statutes of 2010).