What Are the Smog Check Rules in San Francisco?


Quick Answer

Every 2 years, drivers in San Francisco must acquire a "smog certificate” to affirm the vehicle’s emissions test results and submit it with their registration renewal. California law requires registration of vehicles within 90 days of the emissions test.

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Full Answer

The California DMV mails registration renewal notices to drivers who are required to get their vehicles tested for smog emissions. The following vehicles are exempt from the smog check: diesel-powered vehicles manufactured before 1997, electric vehicles, hybrids, motorcycles, trailers, and gas-powered vehicles weighing in excess of 14,000 pounds. Drivers are not required to procure smog certification if their vehicle is 6 years old or less, though there is a small fee for choosing this option. If the vehicle does not fall under these categories and the driver lives in the San Francisco area, they must pass the smog inspection every other renewal period.

If the vehicle fails the California smog test, a driver is unable to register the vehicle until they make the necessary repairs, retest and subsequently pass the test. If the California DMV determines that a vehicle is likely to fail the inspection, the DMV mails a registration renewal notice stating whether or not the test needs to be administered at a test-only station. State law also mandates that a percentage of vehicles must be tested at STAR locations. Vehicles selected for these testing facilities are chosen at random or because the vehicle emits excess pollutants.

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