FAQs

Do I need an appointment?

We have a variety of scheduling options to suit your needs:

  • Drop in anytime and relax in our lobby for the next available time slot, usually available immediately or up to 30 minutes. Wi-fi, Cable TV, soft drinks, water, and coffee are provided with our compliments
  • If you are in a hurry and just want to drop your car off, you can fill out a short form and be on your way fast, even when we’re busy. We’ll call you when it’s ready
  • Special after-hours services are limited, but available. Give us a call so we can address your needs! (408) 264-7664

Do you send a copy of my smog check to DMV?

        Yes, we do!  The result of your test is electronically transmitted to the DMV’s computer when your test is completed. You will also receive a signed and dated copy for your own personal records.

What does “not ready” mean?

As you drive your car, its on-board computer runs a series of up to 11 tests.  These tests, known as “monitors,” check your car’s various components and systems and the results determine whether or not your car’s “check engine” light is turned on.

As the monitors run, their status changes from “not ready” (or “incomplete”) to “ready” (or “complete”). All of the monitors will be set to “not ready” if your battery is disconnected or your computer is reset with a scan tool.

Part of the smog inspection includes checking the “readiness” of the monitors and if more than the allowed number are not complete, your car will not pass, and the test will show “not ready”.

Normally, driving your car for a few days will resolve the problem, but if it does not, other problems may exist that require further diagnosis from a qualified repair shop. It is also possible that your car’s monitors are inherently difficult to set. The Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) has a published list of these vehicles it has identified, and we are happy to help you determine if any of them apply to your vehicle.

In some circumstances, exemptions apply to readiness requirements, and we will be happy to explain them if you have any questions regarding your vehicle.

What happens if my car does not pass?

If your car does not pass, the problem should be diagnosed and repaired, and when you bring it back to us, your retest is free! You only pay the $8.25 certificate fee upon passing.

Here are some suggestions you might find helpful:

  • Assistance is available from the State. Information and application forms are available in our lobby. It is important that you review these options before seeking repairs if you wish to receive assistance.
  • Click here for a list of certified repair stations in your area. State regulations prohibit us from recommending any particular shop.
  • Give the repair station a copy of the Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) you received from us. Let them know that we are happy to answer any questions they have.
  • Explain to them that your car failed its smog inspection, and you want it repaired so that it will pass. Have them write this on your estimate.
  • When you pick up your car after the repair, ask them if it is ready for inspection.

What is a “STAR” station?

Some vehicles require a Smog Check at a STAR station. STAR stations must meet specified performance standards established by BAR. Some STAR stations (like Amerismog) are licensed to perform solely tests, while others are licensed to perform both tests and repairs. The station is required to post a sign on the services it performs. The STAR sign is bright red and can usually be found hanging directly under or near the station’s Smog Check sign.

Why does my car need to go to a “STAR” station?

    Another great question! State law requires testing a percentage of the vehicle fleet at STAR-certified stations. These vehicles are known as “directed” vehicles. Some are simply selected at random, and while the exact selection criteria is not defined, the State offers the following explanation:

     Model-year 1999 and older vehicles must have their inspections performed at a STAR station. These vehicles still require a tailpipe inspection of emissions. STAR stations are required to have this equipment.

      In addition, model-year 2000 and newer vehicles with the greatest likelihood of failing their next inspection are directed to STAR stations. Smog Check history of vehicle groups (e.g., model-year, make, model, body style, engine displacement, and transmission type) is a major factor in this directed vehicle selection process.

  The first six model-years do not require biennial inspection, and therefore are not included in the Directed Vehicle Selection Methodology.

What do I need to bring with me when I have my car tested?

If you bring us the car, we can inspect it! Your renewal notice (the one with the large barcode across the top) will expedite your visit, but is not required.