The Smog Stop
6414 University Ave, San Diego, Ca 92115
Mon-Sat: 07:00 - 17:00

California Smog Check for Out of State Vehicles

Moving to another state can bring on massive amounts of stress because of all things one has to do. The Smog Stop wants to assure you that worrying about a California Smog Check is pointless. The Smog Stop has a motto “We inform the customer”. If a customer is informed or has access to the information help them become informed, we have found it creates a win-win situation. The smog check laws you have probably heard about are either untrue or grossly exaggerated. Most people will probably never even fail a smog check in their life, other people fail many times. What is the reason for this you might ask? The simple answer is the car maintenance is not being done, which leads to smog repairs. So if you are not doing the required vehicle maintenance odd are you will probably fail smog check. The good news is that most people actually to the necessary repairs to their vehicle when required.   If this is you then you probably have nothing to worry about. Now that we have that out of the way, we can get in to the technical jargon relating to performing a smog check on a vehicle from out of state. Every vehicle must obtain a smog check upon first registering the vehicle with the California DMV.

Many people when moving to California confuse the smog check with California emissions certification. These two items are completed different and have no bearing when it comes to getting your out of state vehicle smog check. The emissions certification is done by the manufacturer and certifies that the vehicle is at a minimum US EPA certified. California mandates that motor vehicles sold in the State of California be manufactured to California standards. Dot worry if about this, if your vehicle has more than 7500 miles on the odometer and is more than 2 model years old you can  bring your vehicle in to California without California Emissions Standards. The Smog Stop has been doing this for a decade and has only serviced one vehicle that this applied to. Now, if you own a motorcycle this could definitely apply to you. Motorcycles usually do not get the mileage put on them like a car or truck would. Follow the check list below to find out if your vehicle is California Emissions Compliant.

Check to see if you vehicle has California or Federal Emissions

1. Pop the hood and find the emissions label.

California Emissions Label

California Emissions Certification

If you notice when you read the label, it states the vehicle conforms to US and California emissions standards. This vehicle would be able to be imported in to California regardless of the model year or mileage of the vehicle.

Federal  Emissions Label

Federal Emissions Certification

This label if for a federal emissions compliant vehicle. In order to import this vehicle in to California the vehicle would have to have 7500 miles on the odometer and be more than 2 model years old. Below are a list of exemptions that may apply to you regarding the 7500 miles/2 model year requirement.

Exemptions 7500 California Mileage Requirement

  • If you obtain the vehicle because of a divorce or separation, you may be entitled to an exemption
  • If you are a California resident and you vehicle was stolen when you were out of state and purchased a federal vehicle, you can claim an exemption
  • If your vehicle was out of state and was destroyed or made non-operable, you can claim the 7500 mile rule exemption.
  • An emergency vehicle
  • If you are military and the vehicle was last registered where you were stationed, you are exempt
  • A motorcycle or scooter year model 2005 and older, with an engine less than 50 cubic centimeters (cc) displacement. Starting January 1, 2006, street motorcycles and motor-driven cycles year model 2006 and newer, with engines less than 50 cc displacement, have to be US EPA compliant.

Exemption to California 7500 mile rule

If you are moving to California from another state, you may register a new 49-state vehicle if it was first registered by you in your home state, or for military personnel, in the last state of your military service. When applying for vehicle registration in California, you must provide evidence that the vehicle was registered.

Read this carefully if you are trying to register your federal emissions certified vehicle in California and it does not have 7500 miles on the odometer and is less than 2 model years old. The only thing you need to do is make sure it was registered by you in your last state before coming here.


Smog Check Out of State Vehicle

After reading the above text, you should now have an understanding of the requirement to import a vehicle in to California from one of the other 49 states. The smog check is now the simple part. The smog technician will verify the emissions label and determine what emissions device the car was manufactured with. If you have not removed any of these devices that came stock on your car, you will be in good shape and will more than likely pass the smog check inspection.

Reasons Out of State Vehicle Fail Smog Check

The number one reason out of state vehicles is because the car was originally built as California Compliant and someone modified the vehicle. Modifications to the emissions system include:

  1. Removing or replacing the Catalytic Converter with one that is not California Compliant
  2. Deleting the PCV valve
  3. Tuners (Diesel and Gas)
  4. Aftermarket Cold Air intakes
  5. Deleted EGR valve
  6. Engine Changes (The engine can be changed with a replacement engine, used or rebuilt). You can not put a engine in the car from a different year make or model. There is some exemptions to this. Call the Smog Stop for details.