Not All Smog Shops are Created Equal

When it comes time to get your car smogged, not all shops are equal.

There are actually three different types of smog shops, so what’s the difference between test & repair, “test only” and repair only shops?

A smog check includes an assessment of other parts of the vehicle to make sure that they are in good working condition. This is mostly done on the parts that are related to the motor vehicle’s emissions control. The Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) licenses or contracts with several different types of Smog Check facilities. The various stations are designed to provide consumers with multiple options to meet their needs. The station is required to post a sign on the services it performs.

Test Only Stations – Test-Only stations are licensed by the state to perform Smog Check inspections, but not repairs, on vehicles. A test only center is expected to ensure a non-biased smog test inspection. Vehicles that are prescribed for test only centers most likely will have the characteristics of failing a previous smog inspection test by recording high emission readings that would normally classify them as gross polluters, or those that are deemed by the Bureau of Automotive Repair as having high chances of failing a smog inspection. A test only station is also prohibited from performing or commenting on any diagnosis or even on any possible required repairs. If you have a relatively new car, which you feel will pass, you may get by with a “test only” facility.

Repair Only Stations – There are a few facilities in California which only do smog equipment repairs, and do not issue the test certificates afterwards. Using these is obviously inconvenient for the consumer. –

Test and Repair Stations – Test-and-Repair stations are licensed by the state to provide Smog Check inspections and repairs. If there is any chance that your vehicle may need some work – a tune up, replacement of smog equipment, etc, then be sure to take it to a STAR certified facility that is both test and repair. –

If your vehicle is due for a smog certificate or needs smog repairs, schedule an appointment at Escondido Auto Tech at (760) 745-4454 or online at