California motor vehicle owners must get their cars smog certified every two years; that is, unless the vehicle is old enough to be exempted from the state’s nearly 30-year-old Smog Check Program. One year shy of celebrating its 30th anniversary, the Smog Check Program – also referred to as the Gold Shield program – meets its replacement – STAR.
What this means is: “The days of the old tailpipe smog check are numbered,” Alex Breitler wrote in The Stockton Record in the Dec. 27, 2012 article: “Computerized smog tests just down the road in 2013.”
“Then, [in 2013], cars model year 2000 or newer will no longer have their tailpipe emissions tested on treadmill-like machines known as dynamometers. Instead, technicians will plug into the vehicles’ on-board computers to find out how well the cars perform when they’re actually on the road.”
Why the change?
Breitler noted, “The need for change is clear, officials say. A 2009 audit found that 19 percent of cars that initially passed a smog check ended up failing a roadside inspection within a year.”
In an Oct. 18, 2012 California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board (ARB) news release, the ARB mentions, “Only stations meeting the tough new standards will be rated as ‘STAR Certified’ and permitted to inspect 1999 and older vehicles.
“The changeover to the new testing requirements will take place over the next year:
“Starting January 1, 2013:
• All 1999 model-year and older vehicles (the model years most likely to have high emissions) will be directed to new STAR inspection stations.
“September 1, 2013:
• All 2000 model-year and newer vehicles will be inspected using the [On-Board Diagnostic system]-based test.”
The change will purportedly make automobile emissions testing less expensive and more expeditious in addition to helping lower overall auto emissions in state.
More reliable auto emissions testing in less time with less incurred expense, sounds good to me!
Image above: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration