Section 5 of 20

Smog Certificates & Catalytic Converter Theft Prevention

Read the information below and start the quiz whenever you're ready. You can come back to this page at any time.

Smog Inspections & Certificates

Dealers are required to provide a smog Certificate for all vehicles before a vehicle being offered for sale, including:

  • smog-certificateGas-powered 1976 and newer model-year vehicles
  • Diesel-powered 1998 and newer model-year vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 14,000 pounds or less

Smog Exempt Vehicles

Smog Certificates are not required for vehicles:

  • Four (4) years old or newer*
  • Sold to other licensed Dealers
  • Sold at dealer-only auctions

*The DMV regulations say “When you transfer a vehicle that is four or less model years old, a Smog Certificate is not required. Determine the oldest-qualifying year model by subtracting three from the current year”

For example, 2023 – 3 = a 2020 (or newer) vehicle is smog exempt during 2023.

Maximum Smog Fees

Dealers are allowed to charge $50 for the smog test plus the actual fees charged for Certificates. Smog Certificates obtained by dealers remain valid for the sale of a vehicle for up to two years.

Dealers that sell a vehicle before satisfying the smog inspection requirements are subject to the following administrative actions.

  • A suspension or revocation of their Dealer License and substantial fines ranging from $15 to $750 per violation
  • Additional fines for each day the dealer is noncompliant with the Air Resources Board (ARB) requirements

Catalytic Converter Theft Prevention

Etched catalytic converterEffective January 1, 2024, Senate Bill 55 prohibits Dealers from selling a new or used vehicle equipped with a catalytic converter unless the converter has been permanently marked with the VIN of the vehicle to which it is attached.

A violation of this provision is punishable as an infraction. This violation does not apply to any of the following:

  • Vehicles sold to buyers in which the buyer declines the seller’s offer to mark the catalytic converter permanently
  • Collector motor vehicles & motorcycles
  • Vehicles sold by a licensed automobile dismantler
  • Vehicles sold by or through a salvage pool, salvage disposal auction, or wholesale motor vehicle auction
  • Until January 1, 2025, a vehicle purchased from a dealer licensed in California who is also licensed in another state and does not have a warranty servicing facility in California.

Any person, except as exempted, is prohibited from removing, altering, or obfuscating
the vehicle identification number (VIN) engraved, etched, or otherwise marked on a
catalytic converter or from knowingly possessing three or more catalytic converters that
have been so altered. A violation of these provisions is punishable as a misdemeanor.