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California emissions standards and your junk car: A legal guide

California has the strictest auto emissions regulations in the country. While this may be good news for environmental activists and for the well-being of the state’s residents and visitors, it can pose problems for the owners of older vehicles. For some older cars, passing California’s smog check program could be difficult and frustrating. But is it worth spending the money on costly repairs to pass the test, especially if you own a low-value vehicle? In this article, we’ll take a look at where a junk car owner stands in this situation.

California emissions standards
The California Smog Check Program requires that all vehicles in the state pass a rigorous inspection to ensure they don’t emit excessive emissions that can harm the environment. The program was implemented in 1984 and has become a blessing for some but a bother for others. Many older cars have problems passing the test. Depending on the vehicle’s type and year, the following may be inspected:

  • Visual inspection of emission controls and systems
  • Inspection of the vehicle’s ignition timing, exhaust gas recirculation system, check engine light status, and gas cap
  • Functional inspection of the vehicle’s on-board diagnostic system
  • Tailpipe emissions inspection

California smog checks are required every other year and are part of the Department of Motor Vehicles registration renewals. Your vehicle must pass this test to keep its registration up to date. Failure to pass the test will result in the vehicle’s registration renewal being denied, and it won’t be legal to operate.

Why would a car fail California’s smog check test
Many older vehicles fail California’s required smog check test, resulting in costly repairs. Unfortunately, to keep your old car legal and on the road, it’ll have to have the repairs performed. Possible issues for failing the smog check test include:

  • Spark plug issues – Old or dirty spark plugs will cause a vehicle’s engine to misfire. The vehicle’s ignition system must be working properly to pass the test.
  • Bad O2 sensor – A faulty O2 sensor will cause an improper mix of fuel and oxygen into the vehicle’s combustion chamber. When incorrect, the vehicle will release too much carbon from the exhaust system. Depending on the vehicle, replacement could cost up to $500.
  • Catalytic converter issues – A vehicle’s catalytic converter is responsible for reducing carbon monoxide emissions. If faulty, the result will be failing the smog test. Unfortunately, owners of older cars will have to fork out a significant amount of money to have one replaced.
  • Dirty air filter – A dirty air filter will reduce the amount of air in the engine’s combustion chamber. It will result in too much carbon dioxide being released from the exhaust system.
  • Fuel mixture issues – A leaking fuel injector or a malfunctioning fuel pump will cause an incorrect air/fuel mixture in the engine’s combustion chamber. It will allow too much carbon from the vehicle’s exhaust system.

What to do if your junk car doesn’t pass California’s smog check test
Without passing California’s smog check test every two years, you won’t be able to renew your registration, and therefore, it’s a violation to drive it on public roads. Depending on the circumstances, if caught driving an unregistered vehicle, the fine could be anywhere between $250 to $1000. Repeat offenders could have their vehicles impounded and also face hours of community service. So, what do you do when the value of your vehicle is equal to the cost of repairs to get it to pass this required emissions test?

One option you have, if your clunker keeps failing the smog test, is to sell your junk car in Long Beach to a specialized dealer who buys all vehicles regardless of mileage, age, or condition. They don’t care if yours flunks the smog test; they’ll buy it anyway. However, if you are still indecisive, take a look at the list below:

Donate it to charity
Several non-profit organizations will take your vehicle off your hands despite it not being roadworthy. You can do the feel-good thing and donate it to one of them. With so many to choose from, you can pick a cause that speaks to you in some way, one that will help those less fortunate than you. Some car donations may even be tax deductible.

Sell it to a specialized junk car dealer
The easiest and most profitable way to unload a car that repairs to pass the smog test is far more than the vehicle’s worth is to sell it to a California junk car dealer. These specialized dealers will purchase all cars despite age, mileage, condition, or failure to pass the smog test. They’ll come directly to you, tow your high-emissions wreck away, and leave you with a check, cash, or Venmo payment that you can put towards a vehicle that’s easily registered.

California emissions standards and your junk car explained
California residents who own older vehicles can find themselves frustrated when their clunkers continuously fail the state’s strict emissions regulations. Passing the required smog test can require costly repairs that can far outweigh the car’s resale value. Rather than throw good money after bad, sometimes it’s better to sell the vehicle simply.

Junk car dealers will buy any vehicle that needs expensive repairs to pass the smog test. They’ll come to you, haul it away, and leave you with cash to put down on a more easily maintained car. Don’t waste your money on costly repairs to your hooptie; give a California junk car dealer a call today.

The article California emissions standards and your junk car: A legal guide first appeared in TravelDailyNews International.


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Author: Apollonas Kritikos