Vehicle Inspection

Car Registration Inspection

Only non-residents require a safety vehicle inspection during their first car registration. You can do this at the DMV office during your car registration appointment; the safety inspection is free.

In addition, most cars require smog and emissions testing at least once in a while, including for the first registration.

Vehicle Inspection

Emissions Exemptions

All cars need a smog check before their first California vehicle registration, except:

  • Cars that were made in the past six years (except diesel or specially constructed cars). These cars pay a smog fee instead.
  • Hybrid or electric cars.
  • 1975 year model or older gas cars.
  • Pre-1998 diesel-powered vehicles or those weighing more than 14,000 lbs (Gross Vehicle Weight).
  • Natural gas-powered cars weighing more than 14,000 lbs.
  • Motorcycles or trailers.

Smog Check at Registration Renewal

Only certain counties and zip codes require a smog check at DMV registration every other year. Check on the California DMV website to see if your county or zip codes requires emissions testing, as this information may change. Your renewal notice will also tell you whether you need a smog check.

Where to Get a Smog Test

Before you register car, you’ll need to show your smog check passing certificate to the CA DMV. The California Department of Consumer Affairs lists emissions testing centers on its website. Many local service stations also provide this emissions testing service; check in your local yellow pages.

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