Skip to content

Instant VIN Lookup

The following is for informational purposes only

Smog Check History

smog check history

Most vehicles in America are required to undergo a smog history check or emissions test every year or so before they can be registered and operate on the road. The reason for this is safety. Due to the high levels of smog in big cities, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires smog testing, even with new cars and trucks. The first smog check program was implemented in 1984 in California. Other states soon follow suit. Not all areas have a smog test program.

What is Smog?

what is smog

Smog is air pollution, and the term coined to describe it is based on two other words smoke + fog. Smog is most often opaque and smells foul. Often it is referred to as “pea soup.” Places like London, Tehran, California, and Mexico City are dense with smog, and thus those areas have enacted regulations to reduce the problem. City smog comes from vehicle emissions, internal combustion engines, and industrial fumes. Smog is toxic to humans and can lead to serious health problems and even death. This pollution also negatively affects the environment and causes global warming through the erosion of our atmosphere. Smog is a big issue that the government is finally taking seriously and addressing through things like smog tests.

Some smog is caused by natural occurrences such as volcanoes and plants, but most is caused by humans.

What is a Smog Test?

In an attempt to reduce smog in areas all around the country, states have set up required annual or biennial smog tests to evaluate a vehicle’s emissions and then make repairs if necessary, so the car or truck does not pollute the air even further. Some newer vehicle and electric (fuel-efficient) vehicles are not required to participate in smog test programs. Typically, any vehicle manufactured from 1976 until the present is required to pass regular smog tests.

Do I need a Smog Test?

smog test

You will need to check with your state DMV office, but most states require a smog or emissions test depending on the type of vehicle, the model, make, year, and the area where you live. When you make an appointment for a smog test, you can request a “smog test only” or also hire the mechanics to make the repairs so that your vehicle will pass the test.

Some tips to pass a smog test are:

  • Keep your car in good working condition. Always follow the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance guidelines.
  • Never tamper with any emissions equipment on your vehicle.
  • When taking your vehicle into a smog test, drive it for 15 minutes to warm up the engine and smooth out any emissions-producing components.

Some vehicles, such as electric cars, trailers, motorcycles, and old diesel vehicles, do not have to be smog tested each year.

What is a Smog Test History?

States like California require annual or bi-annual smog tests before you can register your vehicle. A smog test history is a report showing your vehicle’s smog test for each year and if your car or truck passed the smog test. The smog test is performed when you have your vehicle inspected, and the results are sent to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. You can usually contact your local DMV for a copy of the DMV smog check history if you need one.

Why Do You Need a Vehicle Smog Test History Check?

smog check

To register your car each year, your vehicle must pass a smog test. If you are selling the vehicle, it is essential to show the new buyer a complete smog test history report so they can see that the vehicle passed each year. If you are selling to a close family member, the state may waive this rule.

Upon purchasing a new or used vehicle, a smog test history check comes into play. If you are buying from a dealer, they will produce a report showing the vehicle complies. If you purchase a second-hand vehicle from a stranger, they will need to show you a smog history check report to show the vehicle qualifies for registration.

How to Get a Smog Check History

smog check history

There are various ways you can get a copy of your smog check history. First, the DMV will have a smog check history for your vehicle. The gas station or mechanic who performs your smog checks may keep those records as well. Each state typically has an online service where you can enter your VIN and see your entire smog check history and even print it out. There are also third-party websites where you can enter your VIN and see your vehicle’s information, including emissions and smog check history results.

Some states offer incentives to repair vehicles with high emissions, and in some cases, they may even buy the car or truck from you to get it off the road. California’s Bureau of Automotive Repair Retirement Program will provide financial assistance to repair emissions problems or purchase the car outright. You will have to check with your specific state to see what programs they offer.

Instant VIN Lookup