How Much Does Smog Check Cost

Vehicles emit different kinds of fumes that are mostly toxic to our bodies and the environment. When these vehicular emissions combine with industrial toxins and other air pollutants, they form more harmful substances, which may result to unsustainable and unhealthy living conditions, as well as certain irreparable health issues.

One evident example of a highly toxic air pollutant is the smog. Its name is derived from the combination of smoke and fog, and it is visible in congested and industrialized cities such as Los Angeles and New York. To regulate, or better yet, lessen the smog formation, vehicles are required to undergo a smog check. This makes sure that the cars with excessive harmful emissions are immediately repaired or fixed in accordance with the guidelines of the state and the federal government.

In fact, the state of California has implemented its very own Smog Check Program to inspect the conditions of the vehicles with model years from 1979 to present and identify those that may contribute to the pollution. They use an exhaust gas analyzer for the smog test, which is required every two years. But of course, this service is not for free. As such, how much does a smog test cost these days?

Typical Cost of a Smog Test

Typical Cost of a Smog Test

According to SmogTips, the typical smog check price ranges from $29.95 to $69.95, depending on several factors such as the state and the county of residence, the type and age of your vehicle, and the type of smog test needed by your vehicle. However, there are circumstances when smog test stations charge additional fees like certification costs, so make sure that you prepare a bit more than the necessary budget for the service.

Smog Check Program in California

Let’s say you are in California, so your vehicle is under the state’s Smog Check Program. You can bring your car to either of the following Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) stations:

  • STAR Stations – meet the performance standards established by BAR; some stations only provide the smog tests, while others conduct the tests and repairs
  • Test-Only Stations – typically provides smog tests only, no repairs
  • Test-and-Repair Stations – perform both tests and repairs
  • Repair-Only Stations – only do repairs on vehicles that emit excessive harmful pollutants

Along with your vehicle, you should also present your driver’s license, proof of insurance, title, and registration. If your car passes the initial smog check test, you will have to pay $8.25 for the Smog Check Certificate fee, in addition to the service fees. This money basically provides the funding of BAR, “including the administration of the Smog Check Program and consumer protection operations relating to automotive repair”, as provided on the official website.

In the event when your car fails the initial smog test, this means you have to take another check. But the Bureau of Automotive Repairs (BAR), which administers the Smog Check Program of the state, requires only the following to conduct the diagnosis and/or repairs:

  • the owner of the vehicle
  • a STAR Test & Repair
  • a regular station for both test and repairs
  • a station for only smog repairs

BAR does not permit general auto mechanics to perform the repairs unless they have a smog check certificate. Moreover, the State of California does not reimburse fees spent on smog tests and repairs at centers that don’t have a smog check certification.

Requirements and Exemptions

As previously mentioned, the Smog Check Program of California requires all vehicles to have a smog inspection every two years. The registration renewal reminder shows when you need to get the next smog check. But there are exemptions to the rule, and these are the following:

  • gasoline-powered vehicles with the model year of 1975 and older
  • natural gas-powered vehicles that weigh more than 14,000 pounds
  • diesel-powered vehicles with the model year of 1997 and older or those weighing over 14,000 pounds
  • electric vehicles
  • motorcycles

Smog Abatement Fee

In cases when your vehicle is 6 years old and below, there is no need to have your car inspected every two years. However, you have to pay a smog abatement fee of $20 for the first 6 years of registration. After that, your vehicle is already subjected to the regular smog test required by the program.

The abatement fee is not applicable to non-resident vehicles, diesel-powered vehicles with model years from 1998 to present and under 14,000 pounds, as well as specially constructed vehicles from 1976 to present.

Other States that Require a Smog Test

Aside from California, there are other states that also require vehicles to undergo a smog test. However, some of their laws and regulations are not limited to smog checks but also necessary inspections and repairs. According to, these states are the following:

Arizona                                 Colorado

Connecticut                        Delaware

Georgia                                Hawaii

Idaho                                    Illinois

Indiana                                 Kansas

Louisiana                             Maine

Maryland                             Massachusetts

Missouri                               Nevada

New Hampshire               New Jersey

New Mexico                      New York

North Carolina                   Ohio

Oregon                                 Pennsylvania

Rhode Island                      Tennessee

Texas                                    Utah

Vermont                              Virginia

Washington                        West Virginia

Wisconsin                            Washington DC

Some of the states mentioned above have regulations that only require certain counties and vehicles to undergo the necessary emission testings. The services fees also vary accordingly, so it is much better to check your local government about the requirements and payments you need to cover.

States that Don’t Require a Smog Test

States that Don’t Require a Smog Test

Apparently, there are states that don’t need to have the vehicles undergo a smog test. Some of them had laws regarding the emission testing but were abolished due to inevitable circumstances. States like South Dakota and South Carolina don’t require the smog checks because they have a clean, breathing air based on the guidelines of the state.

Alabama                              Alaska

Arkansas                              Florida

Iowa                                      Kentucky

Michigan                              Minnesota

Mississippi                          Montana

Nebraska                             North Dakota

Oklahoma                           South Carolina

South Dakota                     Wyoming

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