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

What Vehicles Are Exempt From The Smog Check

Smog Check Exemption
1974 Ford Pinto Smog Check Exempt

The number one question The Smog Stop hears is does my vehicle need a smog check inspection. This page is going to answer every question regarding which vehicles require a smog check in California. The law is so scattered around when it comes to finding this answer, we want to explain the smog check exemption in detail so you will not have any unanswered questions in your mind regarding the Smog Check.


Vehicles Exempt From Smog Check

  • Vehicles model year 1975 and older, which are gas powered are exempt from the California Smog Check program
  • Vehicle model year 1997 and older, which are diesel powered are exempt from the smog program
  • Natural gas vehicles, providing the Gross Vehicle Weight is in excess of 14000lbs
  • Currently motorcycles are exempt from the smog program
  • All diesel powered vehicles are exempt from the smog check program providing the GVWR is in excess of 14000lbs. (This includes motor homes)
  • Vehicles which are currently located outside of the State of California are exempt from the Smog Check program. (Reg 5103 Temporary Smog Check Exemption)

If your motor vehicle does not fall in to one of the exemptions above then you car is required to undergo a smog inspection if it is registered in the State of California.


California DMV Exemptions

The California DMV exempts vehicles from the the smog inspection under certain circumstances. The Smog Stop wants every motorist to obtain their vehicle registration with ease. The following situations allow for a DMV exemption from the California Smog Check.

  • The vehicle is being transferred from one immediate family member to another immediate family member
  • The vehicle has undergone a smog check inspection within the previous 90 days.
  • It is powered by electricity or a form of energy that has zero pollution.

The California DMV requires the motorist to complete a Smog Inspection Exemption form in order to qualify for the exemption.

California Department of Consumer Affairs Bureau of Automotive Repair Exemptions

The Bureau of Automotive Repair(BAR) provides the following exemptions for vehicle owners to obtain their vehicle registration in limited circumstances.

  1. The vehicle has failed smog check and the owner of the vehicle has spent $600.00 at licensed smog check repair facility.

This exemption is part of the consumer assistance program, which helps offset the tremendous cost of smog repairs. The most important take away from this exemption is “Licensed Smog Check Repair Facility”. If you spent money at a mechanic and he or she is not a licensed smog check inspector then you can not apply for this exemption. However, you can call the Bureau of Automotive Repair or file a complaint online against the mechanic that was performing unlicensed repairs and hopefully obtain a refund so you can get your car diagnosed and repaired by a licensed smog check auto repair shop. You can contact you local Bureau of Automotive Repair facility by clicking here.

Bureau of Automotive Repair San Diego Field Office

  •  16855 W Bernardo Dr #112
  •  San Diego, CA 92127
  • (858) 716-1025

2. If the part to repair your car is unavailable you may be entitled to smog check waiver by the State of California Referee. The California Smog Check program has referee facilities located in every major city to assist motorist with resolving issues regarding the California Smog inspection. If your vehicle has failed a California Smog Check, you may make an appointment by contacting the State Referee at the following number:

State of California Referee

(800) 622-7733

San Diego Smog Check Referee

San Diego has two Smog referees located within the county. Cuyamaca College located in Rancho San Diego host the Bar referee program for southern San Diego. Miramar College host the BAR referee office for resident that live in the northern part of San Diego County


The Smog Stop wants our customers to be informed of every possible smog check exemption that may apply to them We have years of experience dealing with the smog check program and consider ourselves the authority in San Diego when it comes to smog inspections. There are many smog inspection facilities to choose from. We set ourselves apart from the competition because we inform our customers. A customer who is informed can make very good decisions regarding their vehicle smog check because they already have the answers. On to many occasions we have customer who have found us, only to learn that they did not need a smog inspection in the first place. Imagine learning you did not need a smog check inspection after you spent $1,200 repairing your car. The car may have needed the smog repair, but it could have until you had the money available to perform the smog check repair.