California vehicle emissions check: An up-and-coming STAR?

This series chronicles my experience with the STAR vehicle emissions-testing process. Individual experiences may vary.

The renewal registration bill arrived in the mail. Registration must be renewed by Dec. 2. The envelope containing the vehicle renewal notice has a postmark date of Sept. 23, 2015 printed or stamped on it.

On the “Vehicle Registration Renewal Notice” issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles has printed on it on the left side near the top a “STOP” sign symbol and to the right of that are the printed words: “SMOG Certification Required at a STAR station” and in parentheses below that is this message: “See reverse side of notice” where one will find additional related information.

My next move was to go online on the Internet to try to locate a STAR Certified test and/or repair facility in my area that I could take my vehicle to, to have it STAR tested. I referenced a Bureau of Automotive Repair Web site for this purpose. I spent anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes before I was able to locate the representative list I was in search of.

One of the facilities provided was where I had smog-testing done to my vehicle previously, so this seemed the most logical testing concern to take my vehicle to this time too. This would be the first time my vehicle would actually be smog tested using the STAR method. On the previous test of the once-every-two-years test cycle, the date of the then “Smog Check” or “Gold Shield” procedure was Nov. 11, 2013. Using the Smog-Check testing process then, my car passed.

So, on Nov. 9, 2015, somewhere around 1 p.m., I arrived at the same test facility with car for the purpose of undergoing smog testing. I filled out my personal and all pertinent requested information on the associated invoice, provided the car key and proceeded to wait. There were others in the waiting area doing the same. More patrons requesting either testing or work followed. Those waiting who were called to learn their vehicles’ testing outcomes received such. As expected, some vehicles passed; others did not.

When all was said and done, it was my turn. Then came, the news: “Vehicle Fail due to High NOX at 15 mph. Diag $90.00 Parts & Labor Extra.” That just about says it all.

After paying the proper amount for the required test, I inquired as to how long a time the diagnostics testing would take – if I could be provided with an estimate of the time. No definitive response, unfortunately. Instead, the reply that was offered took more of the form of an uncertainty – basically that the time varies. Fair enough.

I was handed my car key and accompanying paperwork, got in my car, started it up and proceeded to drive home.

Once home, my next step was to contact by phone the automobile mechanic that I take my car to, to have repaired when repairs are needed. He will look over the representative SMOG test printout that has all the performance measures listed including the printout from the 2013 evaluation. Could a vehicle tune-up be in store?

SMOG test chronicle: To be continued.

For more information on STAR testing, see: “California Smog Check Program gets upgrade with ‘STAR’” here.

5 thoughts on “California vehicle emissions check: An up-and-coming STAR?”

  1. This is a good point that you bring up.

    The way I am proceeding on this is in first communicating with the aforementioned mechanic. He is going to look the vehicle over. If he recommends a tune-up, then this is the route I will take. What I noticed in driving to the STAR smog-test facility is that the car was idling rougher than normal – noticeable at stop lights. Before finally arriving at the test facility, idling then smoothed out.

    The entire process, including intermediate steps taken, will be part of this series conversation.

  2. Do you know the Star program is a big Failure and the BAR is hiding this program is been a great way to do illegal smogs ,the month after the program was released some smog shops have a device to bypass the info and pass a car that it was NOT suppose to pass.

    • Should not the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board both be kept in the loop regarding these “developments”?

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