Saving Money On A Smog Check

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In 2013, state regulators launched a significant overhaul of the smog check program, a move they say is rescuing drivers both time and money. Gone  are the recognizable tailpipe tests, replaced by a simplified check of contamination data collected by onboard diagnostic systems which come standard on newer vehicles.
But individuals who drive older cars must take their vehicles to particular state certified channels and pay additional for the more intricate tailpipe emission check. Regulators expect prices for the smog check using onboard diagnostic systems will be driven lower by a mixture of cheaper gear, less technician time spent performing the test and more competition.
Under the program, stations rely on the diagnostic systems which are standard in vehicles model year 2000 or newer. Those systems collect pollution levels while the vehicles are actually on the road. By comparison, tailpipe emission tests quantify smog while the car is operating in the store.
Smog check stations only need a special plug-in cable, specialized software and an everyday computer — a package that should cost about $3,000. In contrast, the tailpipe testing gear can operate stores up to $40,000.
Moreover, the smog test should take less than five minutes, compared to the former half hour, plus, saving drivers time and stations payroll costs. More competition from stores lured by cheaper equipment costs should also help drive down costs.

However, a state analysis estimates California owners of newer vehicles will save $64 million annually. But, none of these cost-savings are expected for owners of model year vehicles 1976 through 1999. They will need to bring their cars in for the same tailpipe test as they have been because older vehicles have demonstrated to be more likely to generate more smog than permitted.
Moreover, drivers driving older vehicles will need to search out exactly what are known as “STAR-certified” stations. Beginning Jan. 1 2013, stores might have to meet certain criteria to obtain this certification before they could execute tailpipe tests. It replaces the present “Gold Shield” designation.
But stores don’t have to be STAR certified to nevertheless provide checks for the newer vehicles which don’t require the intricate tailpipe emission evaluations.
California, normally a leader in clean-air applications, is only one of two states which do not utilize the onboard diagnostic procedure. The other is Colorado. New cars bought in California will still have the six-year grace period before a first smog check.
About 7,000 stores with 15,000 technicians offer smog checks in California. State data indicate that 10 million of those evaluations are conducted each year. Smog check is related to reducing emissions by 308 tons every day.

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