A STAR smog check station is a facility that is approved and recommended for mandatory vehicle smog testing by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. STAR-certified smog check stations are recognized by California as the highest performing in terms of reliability and customer service.
The STAR program was instituted in California in 2013. When certain drivers receive their vehicle registration renewal notice from the DMV, they may also see a note instructing them to get certification at a STAR station. Vehicle types designated by the Bureau of Automotive Repair as being likely to fail the smog test and vehicles that have failed previous smog tests receive these notices. A certain number of other registered vehicles are also selected at random for these inspections. Inspections are conducted at STAR stations, which are privately owned and charge a fee for the inspection.
Vehicle emissions testing is not always required to be done at a STAR-certified location. Test results from other stations are sometimes allowed. However, a non-STAR certified location may not have the specific equipment to test every make, model and year of vehicle. Smog check stations that are STAR-certified can be located by zip code at CASTARStation.com.