Smog Tips

Central Coast Auto Center 805-772-0191

910 Morro Bay Blvd Morro Bay Ca.

Official Basic Area Smog Test Station

Smog Test News - CHANGES : Effecting ALL Tested Vehicles

Starting 3/19/08 in California : We must perform a new Visible Smoke Test on ALL Vehicles !! Pay attention people, this new part of the Smog Inspection will cost you a fairly hefty repair bill, or force you to retire the vehicle read more below.

Is your Check Engine light ON ? Get It Fixed NOW - Before the test !


The Number 1 REASON for a SMOG CHECK Failure is due to having the SMOG Test Performed when your CHECK ENGINE LIGHT is ON. The Solution - have the problem diagnosed and Repaired BEFORE you have it TESTED!! unless you like to throw MONEY away.

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Vehicle Retirement Program The State will buy your Vehicle if it fails the smog test learn more here

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Check Engine Codes

OBD II Codes for 1996 and newer Cars/Trucks




7/27/08 Update on EVAP Testing and the Visable Smoke Test

Its been 4 months since the Visable Smoke Test was added to the SMOG Inspection and I haven't had a single failure due to the Visable Smoke Test, but that is just chance and maybe the fact that I teach my customers to save money in the long run by keeping their vehicles well maintained.

The Implementation of EVAP Testing has been enlightening. Less than 2% of the vehicles I have tested (needing the EVAP Test) have Failed, of these almost half were Ford Rangers (88-94, the 94 the biggest failer, and occassionally the 95) , that use a plastic filler hose that goes between the filler neck and the gas tank, that has the vent hose molded into it.

Ford thinks these hoses are worth a lot of money at a cost to the customer of about $300, but the $2 dollars worth of molded rubber or rubberized plastic they used, ends up cracking near where the clamps pinch down on it.

Another vehicle that is even worse is the 92-95 Dodge Dakota, with a short 16" tapered filler neck to tank hose, that costs about $400

Note regular filler neck to gas tank hose is usually about $2.00 / inch so most filler neck to gas tank hoses are under $50.

Most of the other failures were on very old Motorhomes, or occured due to poor sealing of the O-ring between the fuel pump assembly and the gas tank (on those vehicles that have previously had their fuel pump replaced ) or failure to hook all hoses back up when replacing the fuel pump or fuel tank sender.

UPDATE 3/19/08 IMPLEMENTATION and addition of the "Visable Smoke Test" to the Smog Inspection

On Wendesday March 26 2008 ALL vehicles getting a Smog Check are now required to have a Visible Smoke Test Performed

Basically what this means if there is "Smoke" coming out of the tail pipe (or valve cover) from the engine burning OIL, blowby, or a 'Rich" condition Blue, blue/grey, or brown in color, you fail ...white steam is not a problem Read more here

Test Stations- Written instructions and a video that provides visual instruction on performing The Visible Smoke Test can be found by checking the BAR website at and visiting this page here for more information.

12/19/07 update

People ...yes YOU....don't wait to do a tune up until AFTER a SMOG test. Don't have your car tested when the Service Engine Soon or CHECK ENGINE lights are on all the time unless you like wasting money.

I get quite a few people coming in with the attitude of- I'm going to just bring it in and test it and only do a tune up if it fails....that is the WRONG Mindset...and will cost you much more money in the long run.

When your Service Engine Soon or CHECK ENGINE lights first come on, and stays on all the time, its time to get it fixed!!! If you wait, you could ruin some very expensive equipment. 1996 and newer vehicles use an OBD II compliant catalytic converter (OBD II CAT), and if your CHECK ENGINE LIGHT is on, especially if it is FLASHING, you more than likely could be ruining it.

The Most common reason for a CHECK ENGINE LIGHT being on, is Misfire Codes...this means you are dumping raw fuel into the Cat and you may just melt the inside of it out...OBD II Catalytic Converters are VERY EXPENSIVE compared to the earlier Cats

Early, non OBD II Cat replacement, is usually about $200, an OBD II Cat is usually 2 to 6 times as expensive...yes some OBD II CATS can cost over $1,200

12/1/07 Update

Smog Check price increase starting 12/1/07 (why)

Allmost 80% of 1995 and earlier vehicles with a single gas tank will need the new EVAP Test. The EVAP TEST may add as much as 20 minutes to the time it takes to do a SMOG Inspection.

The BAR mandated the EVAP Test and Equipment, the equipment Cost each Test Station at least $3,000, and the EVAP Test adds more time to perform the SMOG TEST.

What's it going to cost ? Expect the Test to add an additional $10, minimum, to as much as (.4 hours) at the shops hourly rate- Shop rates vary but generally, are more than $80/Hour, so at $ that would be $32 just for the EVAP TEST

11/21/2007 update

Smog Tip for 76-95 Vehicles, needing the Low Pressure Evap Test.

Who - ALL Vehicles 76-95 with a single gas tank are required to have the test

(Trucks and Motorhomes with dual gas tanks are not required to have the test performed at this time)

Smog Tip - Show up with your gas tank nearly Full. Plan ahead and Fill-up to at least half a tank before the Test.


Starting 12/1/2007 you can help decrease the time of your Smog Test if you own a 1976-1995 Vechicle that requires the LPFET, by arriving with your gas tank almost full. So plan ahead to either fill up, or top off the day of the inspection, as this new part of the Smog Inpection requires we pump up (pressurize) the gas tank with (nitrogen) to see if the evaporative system ( the filler neck, gas tank, evaporative (and its vacuum) lines, hold the required pressure.

Showing up with a nearly empty gas tank could increase the time it takes to pressurize the sytem and complete your test by as much a 20 minutes (and the cost for the test), and you will be asked prior to filling out your work order if your tank is full and may be turned away and told to come back when your tank is closer to Full. read more about the LPFET the BAR site

Most common causes of Smog inspection Failure for 1996 and newer vehicles.->

Generally all 1996 and newer OBDII vehicles should pass a smog inspection, if the Check Engine light/Mil Light/Service Engine Soon Light is(functioning properly) and NOT on .

Smog Technicians are Required by Law to inspect the vehicle in the condition it arrives in (once a work oder is signed) so they can and will test it...even if the light is on and they know it is going to fail. If your cars check engine light is on when a test is performed it is an automatic failure.

The 3 most common causes for Smog inspection failure are -

1. Having your vehicle inspected when the Check Engine light, Mil Light or Service Engine Light are on, while the vehicle is running. The solution have your car checked for fault codes, and then repaired, when you see the Light is on constantly. The normal status to look for is, the light comes on when you turn the key to the on position, and goes out just prior to starting or just after the vehicle has started..(with in a few seconds)

2. Having replaced, or disconnected, the vehicle battery, prior to (within 2-3 days) of having it inspected. Whenever you disconnect the battery the OBDII system monitors and monitor status, reset, and all monitors go to "incomplete". In order to pass the OBDII part of the inspection all but 2 of the system monitors have to have "Completed" their task and be ready to work ie...monitor the sensors they monitor.

3. Having your vehicle repaired for a check engine light on problem, within a few days prior to having a Smog inspection.

[When your car is repaired for a check engine light on problem, after the repairs have been completed they "Clear the Codes" This Re-Sets the System Monitors to incomplete, and the vehicle needs to be driven through a sequence of specified drive cycles to Set the Monitors to "Complete" (there are) as many as 10 Monitors that need to be "Ready" to perform and have "Completed" their tasks checking the Sensors they monitor.

If you have the Smog inspection performed (before) the monitors are set to "Complete" and there are more than 2 Monitors not Ready, you will also Fail the Smog inspection simply because the Monitors are not set.]

If you have had Repairs Performed within a few days Ask the Technician / Service manager to make sure the Monitors are ready, before they start the test. They have a " Readiness Monitor Tool" they can plug in to the vehicle to see if the Monitors are set.

Pre Inspection Tips

Warm Your Car UP (don't show up with the engine cold)

Drive your vehicle for 15- 20 minutes before your appointment to get your engine up to operating temperature, and the catalytic converter hot, where the engine burns fuel more efficiently and so the Catalytic Converter is functioning as best it can. Your vehicle produces less emissions when it burns fuel efficiently (warmed up) and much cleaner when the Catalytic Converter is hot.

Get a Tune Up

If your vehicle is due for routine maintenance, DO IT Before the test. Most 1996 and newer, cars/trucks tune-up's, are not that expensive. Change the Air (and fuel) filters and put some new spark plugs in, and Change your Oil and Oil Filter.


Coming Soon Have a Smog Related or Check Engine Code Question? Ask an Enhanced Area Smog Tech.