Image source does not exist News Release: 2010-10-18 Smog Check restructuring promises lower costs, faster tests and cleaner air
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Release #:10-55

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Stanley Young
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Dimitri Stanich
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Smog Check restructuring promises lower costs, faster tests and cleaner air

Program update allows technicians to use new technology

EL MONTE, CALIF - Today the Air Resources Board, Department of Consumer Affairs/Bureau of Automotive Repair and Assemblymember Mike Eng marked the adoption of AB 2289, a new law restructuring California’s Smog Check Program, streamlining and strengthening inspections, increasing penalties for misconduct, and reducing costs to motorists.

The new law, sponsored by the Air Resources Board and the Bureau of Automotive Repair, promises faster and less expensive Smog Checks by taking advantage of diagnostic software installed on all vehicles since 2000. The new law also directs vehicles without this equipment to high-performing stations – rewarding these stations – helping ensure that these cars comply with current emission standards. As a result, this legislation could reduce up to an additional 70 tons per day of smog-forming emissions from vehicles statewide.  

"This is definitely not your father's old-fashioned smog test,” said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. “Smog Check version 2.0 is plugged-in, wired and a winner. It's all about faster, cleaner and cheaper tests that will catch and clean up far more dirty cars than now.  Your car's on-board computer has been enlisted in the battle for cleaner air."

“AB 2289 revamps the current smog check program by using the latest technology to ensure air quality improvement and lower consumer costs,” said Assemblymember Eng (D-Monterey Park). “Cleaner air saves lives, reduces adverse effects on children and the elderly as well as Native American, African American, Latino, and Asian populations who are more likely to be affected by asthma.”

“The Smog Check Program is a key element in California’s fight for clean air,” said BAR Chief Sherry Mehl.  “AB 2289 provides BAR with new tools in its clean air efforts by holding stations and technicians accountable and by improving consumer convenience while reducing costs.”

The program will reduce consumer costs by having stations take advantage of diagnostic software that monitors pollution-reduction components and tailpipe emissions. This technology, known as On-Board Diagnostics, has been required on all new vehicles since 1996.  Under the new law, testing of passenger vehicles using OBD will begin mid-2013 on all vehicles model years 2000 or newer.  This should result in reduced consumer costs by up to $180 million annually.

Vehicles manufactured without these diagnostic systems will continue to be subject to a tailpipe inspection.  Only Smog Check stations with a demonstrated history of high performance will be authorized to inspect these older vehicles. This change will improve testing, diagnosis and repair of these vehicles.

An independent review of the Smog Check Program in 2009 revealed that within a short period of time after passing a Smog Check inspection, 19 percent of vehicles failed a subsequent emissions audit conducted by state officials. The same study also found that 49 percent of vehicles that had failed an audit conducted by BAR staff had failed and then subsequently passed an inspection at a licensed Smog Check station.

California’s Smog Check Program, administered by the Bureau of Automotive Repair, was established in 1984 to identify high emitting vehicles in need of repair.  Currently, the Smog Check Program removes approximately 400 tons of smog-forming emissions from California’s air each day.

ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.