Star Certified Smog Check Station

What is a Smog STAR Station?

STAR stations are Smog Check stations that meet higher performance standards
established by the Bureau of Automotive Repair. Some STAR stations are licensed to
perform only tests, while others are licensed to perform both tests and repairs. The station
is required to post a sign on the services it performs. Laguna Canyon Smog is licensed to peform both smog test and repairs.

State law requires that a percentage of vehicles have their Smog Check
Inspection performed at a STAR station. To find a Smog Check station near you,
please visit or call 800.952.5210.

STAR Program Fact Sheet

STAR Program Begins

On January 1, 2013, the Bureau of Automotive Repair (Bureau) implemented an important change to the Smog Check Program. The new STAR Program is the result of state legislation (AB 2289, Statutes of 2010) and years of planning to improve the Smog Check Program. One of the AB 2289 reforms establishes performance standards for Smog Check stations and inspectors. The Bureau certifies stations meeting program eligibility requirements.

Smog Check at a STAR Station

Some vehicles require a Smog Check at a STAR station. This includes vehicles that fail Smog Check due to excessively high emissions levels. It also includes vehicles, based on Smog Check history and other data, with the greatest likelihood of failing their next inspection. The Department of Motor Vehicles registration renewal notice indicates if a vehicle requires inspection at a STAR station. Instructions are provided on the back of the renewal notice to assist consumers with the STAR Program.

STAR Stations

STAR stations must meet specified performance standards established by the Bureau. Some STAR stations are licensed to perform only tests, while others are licensed to perform both tests and repairs. The station is required to post a sign on the services it performs.

Finding a STAR Station

STAR stations are required to post a sign so that consumers can easily identify them. The “STAR” sign is bright red and can usually be found hanging directly under or near the station’s “Smog Check” sign. Consumers can also find a STAR station using the station locator application on the BAR Web site.

Clean Air Benefits

Despite significant improvements in air quality, California still continues its efforts to meet federal health-based standards for ozone pollution.  With over 10 million vehicles inspected each year in California, the quality of those inspections is critical. For this reason, the STAR Program has become a key element of the state plan to further improve the quality of air Californians breathe. It establishes performance standards for Smog Check stations and inspectors. In return, these stations and inspectors are provided vehicles that can only be inspected at a STAR-certified station. This includes vehicles with emissions levels that exceed allowable state standards and vehicles most likely to fail their next Smog Check. Stations maintain their STAR certification by having their inspectors perform quality inspections on these higher polluting vehicles. As these higher polluting vehicles are repaired or retired, the state’s air quality improves.

Consumer Assistance Program

The Consumer Assistance Program offers financial assistance to consumers whose vehicles fail Smog Check. Program options provide consumers up to $1,500 to retire a vehicle or up to $500 in emissions-related repairs at a STAR-certified Test and Repair station.  Click here to learn more about the program and to obtain an application.
Download Printable PDF

For more information please visit Bureau of Automotive Repair(BAR) Website:


Bureau of Automotive Repair Star Program

BAR’s STAR Program improves scores, service, and air quality.

The following article is comprised of excerpts from a interview by Steve Sharp who interview BAR Chief John Wallauch..

The STAR Program was developed to address information gained through an independent analysis provided by Sierra Research, which was contracted by the State to perform roadside audits between 2003 and 2004, and again between 2005 through 2006. Sierra’s audits extracted nearly a 60 percent failure rate for vehicle years 1976 through 1995, 30 days to six months after their California Smog Test. The initial posting of technicians’ scores on the STAR Web page February 2012 resulted in lower than expected scores. “Since then,” said Wallauch, “we have seen continued improvement. Smog technicians are taking advantage of the new program and are working to improve, which means the STAR Program is clearly doing its job.” The STAR Program will officially go into effect January 1, 2013.

Although we acknowledge that repairs may not last indefinitely, there is a clear correlation between the Smog Check data and the findings of the roadside audit, which were conducted within 180 days after the inspection. “This means that inspections were either being done improperly or tampering was involved,” said Wallauch. He added, “The STAR Program was introduced to ensure that inspection procedures are properly conducted to give technicians and station owners feedback regarding their performance.

“Skilled technicians are in demand and will continue to be an even greater commodity. A technician who has a history of high score performance will raise his or her own value in the marketplace,” said Wallauch.

Assembly Bill 2289 offers a glimpse into the future, forecasting that traditional auto repair will drastically change in the next 20 years. Changing to On Board Diagnostics II (OBD II) smog inspections will provide better data and eliminate large investments by smog stations as the fleet becomes newer and fewer vehicles will require current loaded tests.

“The new procedures will access real-world data collected and stored 24/7 by the vehicle’s processor,” Wallauch explained, “and utilize onboard data to eliminate static and load testing currently used to simulate driving conditions. OBD II data provides a better picture of the overall condition of the vehicle.”

Interviewer Steve Sharp asked the Chief how OBD II systems might change over time. Wallauch responded, “OBD systems will continue to become increasingly intuitive. As a problem with a vehicle is identified, the owner could be contacted by onboard voice recordings, e-mail, or by text message regarding the problem and the need for its repair.”

Chief Wallauch comes to public service with a background in aerospace and automotive engineering. “I’m a car guy,” he said. “I’ve been working on cars since I was a teenager.”

Wallauch was California’s original “smog czar” under Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., and helped create and implement the first smog program on March 17, 1984. Wallauch reported, “When we started the program 28 years ago, cars required many more repairs to keep them running in top form. Today, we sell service as required by the manufacturer rather than repair.” Wallauch added, “California’s biennial Smog Check inspection removes 380 tons of pollutants from vehicles every day — you’ve got to be proud of being connected to making that kind of a difference to California’s consumers and the air they breathe.”

Inspection tips for difficult vehicles Smog Check Inspectors can reduce the number of inspection problems they encounter by ensuring the vehicle information is entered correctly into the Emissions Inspection System including the year, make, model, engine size, emissions certificate type, fuel type, and transmission type. When correctly entered, the vehicle will receive alternate testing parameters from the Vehicle Identification Database (VID) when applicable.
Although the VID will automatically fill in the vehicle information, it is important to verify this data because
incorrect information may have been entered by the previous inspector. If the previous inspector entered incorrect information, the vehicle will not be properly matched to the correct Vehicle Look-up Table (VLT) row, and will not receive any special testing parameters to address the following issues:

  • OBD II Readiness Monitor completion.
  • Throttle-by-wire equipped vehicles causing an aborted
    test from too many acceleration violations.
  • Controller Area Network (CAN) protocol equipped
    vehicles failing for noncommunication with the BAR-97
  • Four-wheel drive ABS vehicles that set an OBD II fault
    code when completing an ASM test.

The BAR-97 analyzer uses the VLT to control the number of OBD II monitors requiring completion; the ASM test acceleration violation limits; the OBD II test disable for some known CAN vehicles, type of tailpipe test type (ASM, TSI) and emissions pass/fail standards. Over the past two years, BAR has updated thousands of VLT rows to make problem vehicles more testable as well as to improve the VLT process by simplifying vehicle model name look-up.


How standards for the STAR performance measures generated.
Standards for the STAR performance measures are set by evaluating stations and technicians against other stations and technicians throughout the Smog Check program. For an explanation of how each STAR performance measure is evaluated, click on the title of any of the performance measures shown on the report card feature of the STAR Web page. The following link opens an example scenario for the STAR Report Card:General STAR Question