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Will Your Vehicle Pass the Unavoidable Smog Test?

Most of us have received those registration renewal reminders in the mail that tell us we must prove our vehicle meets the smog requirements before we will receive our registration sticker. For those of you that have been religious about visiting your auto shop for maintenance services, there should be no worries. But if maintenance visits have been infrequent or just plain forgotten, passing that smog test may not be a given!

So, what can you do to improve the chances your vehicle will pass? The most important item is to make sure that your vehicle “check engine” or “service engine soon” warning lights are not on. If they are, your vehicle will automatically be failed, regardless of how well the engine is running. In that case, bring your vehicle to a trusted auto repair/service shop to take care of whatever is responsible for turning on the warning light(s) before making your smog check appointment.

There are many other reasons your vehicle may fail a smog test that may or may not cause the warning light to go on, such as secondary ignition parts, engine oil that is way overdue for changing, engine valves that are out of adjustment, exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system problems, etc. Any of these can be avoided if you are keeping up with your vehicle’s maintenance schedule. If you are concerned it won’t pass, that tells me you may not have been on a regular maintenance program. In that case, I recommend that you make an appointment at a good repair facility for whatever service interval is needed plus a thorough, bumper-to-bumper inspection.

By faithfully observing a maintenance program for your vehicle, and if there are no warning lights on, you should pass the smog test the first time. Neglecting vehicle maintenance and then failing the smog test, generally leads to higher repair costs being incurred in order to get the vehicle to pass the second test. Maintenance is always better than repairs!

Your registration renewal notice may direct you to a Test Only station. Test Only stations are what the name implies: no automotive repairs can be performed at one of these stations. If you are not directed to Test Only, you can bring your vehicle anywhere that is a registered test station. Bringing your vehicle to a Test Only station, whether directed there or not, can be a better choice. Test Only stations are usually more objective. They have no incentive for the vehicle to fail, since they are not allowed to perform repairs.

Donna McCord
Dean’s Automotive, Inc.


Smog Test
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