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Smog Requirements Prior to Vehicle Sales

The matter of vehicle smog tests is one which comes up all too often with used vehicles. Sometimes a person will purchase a used vehicle from a car dealership and then discover a short time later the vehicle did not pass a smog test. This leaves the purchaser with a vehicle that cannot be legally driven or, worse yet, is incapable of being driven safely. The situation also comes up when in individual is attempting to sell his/her vehicle to another person via a private sale. The question in both cases is the same: does a used vehicle need to pass a smog test before it is sold?

Generally speaking, the seller (dealer or individual) must provide the buyer with a valid smog inspection certification at the time of the sale. Smog inspection certifications are only good for 90 days from the date of issuance, so the date of the sale must fall within this time range. If this does not occur, then the sale is improper.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule requiring a smog certificate. For example, an inspection is not required on a transfer if a biennial smog certification was submitted to DMV within 90 days prior to the vehicle transfer date. Smog certificates are also not required for: 1) Gasoline powered 1975 year model or older; 2) Diesel powered 1997 year model and older or with a Gross Vehicle Weight rating (GVWR) of more than 14,000 lbs; 3) Electric vehicles; 4) Motorcycles; or 5) Natural gas powered vehicles with a GVWR rating of more than 14,000 lbs.

If an exception does not apply and a vehicle is not sold with a valid smog certificate, then the sale transaction is illegal and arguably void/enforceable. If you have purchased a used vehicle and did not receive a valid smog certificate, be aware of these rights and seek assistance in obtaining relief from the seller. If you are contemplating selling a used vehicle via a private sale, make sure to comply with these rules and obtain a valid smog certificate prior to the sale.

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