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What is a STAR Smog Check?


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What is the difference with a regular smog station and a STAR smog station?

You received your DMV renewal notice and discovered it says "Smog Certification Required at a STAR Station". No need to panic. All this means is that the DMV has chosen your vehicle to be inspected at a STAR certified smog station which is monitored closely by the BAR and must conform to high standards established by the Bureau of Automotive Repairs.

Some STAR stations are only authorized to perform smog inspections. These stations are known as STAR Test Only stations. Other STAR certified smog centers can perform smog inspections as well as smog check repairs. These smog stations are known as STAR Test & Repair stations. Both STAR stations are allowed to perform regular and STAR smog checks.

  • STAR Test Only Centers are only authorized to perform smog inspections and are not allowed to perform smog check repairs.
  • STAR Test & Repair Stations are authorized to perform STAR smog inspections, as well as repair and certify all vehicles.

If the DMV is asking for "Smog Certificate Required at a STAR station" you can visit either of these smog test center types.

STAR certified smog station duties and responsibilities

STAR Test Only Center - Smog test only centers are authorized by the State of California to perform both Regular and Test Only smog inspections. They are not allowed to perform any smog repairs. A Test Only center's main obligation is to perform a non-bias and accurate smog inspection. They are certified to inspect all DMV required vehicles.

STAR Test & Repair (CAP) - STAR Test & Repair stations are authorized by the Bureau of Automotive Repairs to perform, along with smog check repairs, regular smog inspections and test only smog checks. A STAR Test & Repair station is the only type of smog check center which can inspect, repair and certify any and all vehicles. These stations are participants of the State's Consumer Assistance Program and are inspected by the State of California monthly.

STAR Test & Repair stations may also perform smog repairs on vehicles participating in the Consumer Assistance Program.

How are vehicles selected for STAR smog check?

The State of California uses the following three strategies to determine whether a vehicle is STAR station designated or not:

  • Gross polluters (vehicles which have failed a previous smog inspection with very high emission readings)
  • High Emitter Profile vehicles. These are vehicle types designated by the Bureau of Automotive Repair as having high chances of failing the smog inspection.
  • A random sample of all vehicles registered in California and being driven on public roadways.

If your vehicle has been selected to undergo a STAR smog check don't be alarmed. Simply locate a convenient STAR certified smog station and proceed with the inspection. The smog technician conducting the test can inform you of any serious issues. There are several hundered STAR smog stations throughout California and you can find one in your area using our STAR Smog Station Locator.

How much does a STAR smog check cost?

STAR smog stations, as with all smog stations, are independently owned and operated businesses. The owners of these smog test centers or test & repair stations have to right to choose the amount they will charge consumers for their services. Except for an $8.25 State Certificate fee, STAR Test Only centers and STAR Test & Repair stations will have different prices, typically between $29.95 and $59.95 plus state fee.

Find a STAR station by using our smog station and coupon search tool. Select "STAR Smog Station" from the drop down list, enter your zipcode and go.


  STAR Smog Check Progam