This glossary includes terms and definitions that will help demystify the vehicle emissions testing process.
California Air Resources Board
The California Air Resources Board is the agency that oversees air quality in the state of California. Also known as the Air Resources Board, the CARB writes and enforces the rules and regulations for air quality standards.
Also known as: Air Resources Board, ARB, CARB
Average emissions are the number of average emissions that serve as a guide for auto smog repair technicians when a vehicle fails its smog check. Average emissions are set based on the model, year, and type of vehicle (passenger car, light truck, medium truck, heavy duty truck, etc.).
Also known as: AVE
Bureau of Automotive Repair
The Bureau of Automotive Repair, or BAR, is California’s consumer protection agency for vehicle owners. The BAR licenses and oversees auto repair dealers, smog check stations and smog check inspectors. The Bureau also investigates consumer complaints about smog check stations, vehicle emissions testing centers and other automotive repair and maintenance issues.
Also known as: BAR
Carbon dioxide is an odorless, colorless greenhouse gas. It is generated by gasoline powered and diesel powered engines. Carbon dioxide is one of the pollutants that auto smog testing looks for.
Also known as: CO2
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can be fatal in moderate and high
concentrations. Carbon monoxide emissions occur when fuel is too rich. Large amounts of carbon monoxide emissions can cause a vehicle to fail its smog test.
Also known as: CO
Catalytic converters are an auto part above the muffler that burns hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, oxygen, and nitrogen oxide into carbon dioxide and water vapor for use by the vehicle.
Also known as: CAT
Consumer Assistance Program
The Consumer Assistance Program helps consumers whose vehicles have failed their vehicle smog test. The CAP can provide up to $500 in auto emissions system repairs, and $1,000 to $1,500 to consumers who would rather retire a failing vehicle than repair it.
Also known as: CAP
Cars and trucks that must visit a test-only station or STAR emissions testing station are known as directed vehicles. These vehicles are usually those that have a history of failing smog tests, are a make or model known to fail, or have been chosen by random selection for test-only emissions certification.
Also known as: test-only vehicles, DMV test only directed vehicles
Department of Motor Vehicles
The California Department of Motor Vehicles is the licensing agency for vehicles. It also is the agency that requires vehicles to be smog certified and directs certain vehicles to test only stations.
Also known as: DMV
emission standards category
Emissions standards category is the pass and fail emission level points for vehicles. Vehicles manufactured from 1976 to 1995 have different ESCs based on their model, make, type, weight, and transmission and engine size.
Also known as: ESC
Emissions testing uses an analyzer to test the emissions coming from your vehicle’s tailpipe. Emissions tests and smog tests measure carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons, oxygen and nitrogen oxide. Vehicles that fail these emission tests may be labeled gross polluters and are required to be repaired and to pass another emissions test to be certified.
Also known as: car smog test, auto emissions test, vehicle emissions test, vehicle smog test
Evaporative Emission Control System
Evaporative Emission Control System, known as EVAP, prevents raw gasoline from evaporating into the atmosphere. Auto smog testing inspectors often test the EVAP system for defects, modifications and problems. The EVAP system is part of the smog certification process, and a vehicle can pass or fail based on this part of the test.
Also known as: EVAP, fuel evaporative controls, EVAP system, fuel evaporative system
Auto exhaust is the gasses that are produced when fuel combusts in the engine. Exhaust can also be the term used for the exhaust system of a vehicle, including the catalytic converter, muffler and tailpipe.
Also known as:auto exhaust, car exhaust system, vehicle exhaust system, vehicle exhaust gasses
fuel cap test
Flaws in fuel caps can cause a vehicle to fail emissions testing. Gasoline fumes can leak out around ill-fitting or cracked fuel caps, so smog testing professionals will often perform a visual test to look for any defects, cracks, deterioration, seal problems or other flaws. They will aolso detect ehwther there is any fuel evaporation fumes coming from the fuel cap area.
Also known as: fuel cap integrity test, fuel cap visual test
Functional inspections performed during a smog test include checking the mechanical systems of the vehicle, including the EGR, MIL, OBD II, ignition timing, fuel cap, and evaporative emissions systems. These systems, when leaking, can contribute to unhealthy air quality, so vehicles who fail this functional inspection can fail the overall smog inspection.
Also known as: functional smog inspection, functional systems inspection
Vehicles that fail emissions testing are known as gross polluters. Typical emissions of gross polluters are usually at least two times higher than a regular failing vehicle. Gross polluting vehicles must be tested and certified by test only or STAR.
Also known as: GP, polluting vehicle, vehicle that failed smog testing
grey market vehicle
Grey market vehicles are cars and trucks that were manufactured outside of the United States and are not originally designed to meet federal vehicle emissions standards. These vehicles must be modified and tested in order to be legal to drive in California.
Also known as: gray market vehicles
The amount of each pollutant that is measured during a typical auto smog emissions test.
Also known as: MEAS
OBD II stands for OnBoard Diagnostics II, and is the second generation of on-board self- diagnostic equipment in vehicles. These on-board diagnostics include Check Engine lights and other warning lights that alert drivers of defects or problems in the emissions system that need to be repaired by a professional.
Also known as: OnBoard Diagnostics II, OBD2, Check Engine light
smog test only station
Smog test only stations are licensed smog check stations that are only allowed to test vehicles. They cannot make repairs to vehicles that fail smog inspections.
Also known as: test-only stations, test-only emissions shops, emissions testing only stations
smog test and repair
Smog test and repair stations are licensed smog check stations that can perform smog testing and repairs to vehicles.
Also known as: test & repair stations, smog testing and repairs
The STAR program is a state program that certifies certain stations that are more closely monitored by the BAR to perform smog testing and repairs.
Also known as: STAR smog stations, STAR test only stations, STAR test and repair stations
smog check certificate
A smog check certificate is the DMV smog certificate given to vehicles that pass smog testing.
Also known as: smog testing certificate, smog certificate, emissions testing pass certificate
smog test coupons
Some smog testing shops offer coupons for emissions testing. While some of these coupons are legitimate ways to save money, but some can be a bait-and-switch tactic to get customers in the door. As with every type of business, be wary of deals that seem to good to be true.
Also known as: emissions test coupons, smog coupons
vehicle inspection report
Vehicle inspection reports are printouts that show the consumer how their vehicle fared in the vehicle inspection. It also shows the readings, emissions results, and the station information.
Also known as: VIR
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