California Car Inspection Laws

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Each state has laws regarding vehicle safety inspections. However, California tends to have more stringent laws than other states. Every driver in California, particularly those who are moving to the state for the first time, should understand their obligations when it comes to these safety inspections.

Drivers must also understand that there are smog inspection requirements in California. These vehicle safety inspection requirements could also play a part in liability for a car accident. If you have been injured in an accident caused by another driver, it could be possible that the other driver was at fault for operating a vehicle that was in a state of disrepair and not properly inspected. 

What are the California Vehicle Inspection Laws? 

Any car requires an inspection before the owner can have it registered in California. Inspection requirements in the state focus primarily on emission standards rather than the mechanical safety of the vehicle. However, the typical annual safety inspections include checking things other than carbon emissions, including leaks, fluid levels, and the mechanical integrity of the vehicle. 

Smog checks will be required when you register or renew your vehicle registration in the state, though there are some exceptions to the rule. A vehicle will not need a smog inspection under the following circumstances:

  • It is gasoline-powered and model year 1975 or older. 
  • It is diesel-powered and model year 1997 or older OR the vehicle has a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 14,000 pounds or more. 
  • The vehicle is powered by natural gas and weighs more than 14,000 pounds. 
  • The vehicle is electric. 
  • The vehicle is gasoline-powered and less than four model years old. 

Drivers can locate a DMV-approved smog check facility by visiting the DMV online and entering their zip code. If you purchase a new vehicle in California or move here from out of state, you must register your vehicle within 10 days. 

Penalties for Violating Car Inspection Laws in California 

If your vehicle fails an emissions test in California, you will need to pay for repairs until your vehicle passes the check or you will not be able to register the vehicle. It is against the law to operate a vehicle that does not pass the emissions test, particularly because the vehicle would be operating without registration. If you cannot afford repairs to your vehicle, you will be able to apply to a statewide assistance program that may be able to provide you with $500 for necessary repairs. 

Accidents Caused by Drivers who did not Inspect their Vehicles

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident caused by a driver who failed to properly inspect or maintain their vehicles, contact an attorney as soon as possible. Often, drivers who refuse to ensure their vehicles are compliant with state laws operate vehicles that are not roadworthy. This can lead to incredibly dangerous situations for other drivers, motorcyclists, pedestrians, bicyclists, and more. Vehicles that are not registered are also not likely to be properly insured, leading to further complications in the event an accident occurs. Anyone injured in an accident caused by a careless or negligent driver should be entitled to compensation for their losses. It may be necessary to secure a Long Beach car accident attorney to look into the vehicle history of the at-fault driver in these situations.