Is Your Car Smog Legal?

As most of you know I used to work for the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) with an emphasis on the Smog Inspection Program. I had a reputation for identifying illegally modified vehicles and then monitoring the smog stations that certified them. I was pretty successful.

I haven't worked for the State for almost ten years. I have no contacts within the BAR anymore and even if I did I have no reason to pass on information. I did not leave the BAR on good terms. If they can't or won't do their job that's their problem not mine.

I still like to check on the modified cars I see though. I no longer covertly see what's been modified, nor do I have the ability to see where they were certified. I can, like any other person, see whether they have been certified or not. It's easy using the BAR's site:

In my travels around my town I've seen a fair number of what I believe are illegally modified vehicles. It isn't difficult. So if you have an illegally modified vehicle that you've obtained a smog certificate for you really should be more careful.

First off if you work at or own an auto repair facility do not park your modified, registered vehicle where anyone can easily inspect it. This is doubly important if you are a smog check station. 

Next I recommend you do nothing that brings attention to your vehicle. On some vehicles it is easy to see if the catalytic converter(s) have been removed. 

Or maybe you've got a lumpy cam in your ride. I can hear the lumpy idle and so can the BAR rep who might jot down your license plate number and see who and when it was certified. 

Then there is the tell-tale smelly exhaust. I was near a Fox-body Mustang a bit ago that was running so rich there was almost a haze around it. 

I don't know what or if the BAR takes action against vehicle owners or vehicles any more. When I worked I know that some owners were arrested on felony charges. Their vehicles either had to be brought into compliance or surrendered. The smog techs who knowingly certified illegal vehicles also faced felony charges. 

You'll have decide if it is worth it to illegally modify your vehicle. But if you do don't advertise the fact. Make your car as inconspicuous at possible. Be smart, stay under the radar.

Of course the best way to avoid trouble is to keep it legal.


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