BAR Partners with DMV to Inspect Used Vehicles

Health and Safety Code section 43012 gives the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR), Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and Air Resources Board (ARB) the authority to inspect the emission systems on vehicles offered for sale at any car dealer. BAR, in conjunction with DMV, has been conducting used car inspections to verify dealers’ compliance with Vehicle Code section 24007, which requires that all vehicles that are advertised for sale are compliant with a passed Smog Check inspection.

Before beginning an inspection, the BAR representative will explain the process and answer any questions. BAR will attempt to minimize any interruption to the business during the inspection. All vehicles offered for sale on the lot will be inspected. The inspection will include a visual inspection of the vehicle’s emission control systems and an on-board computer system check. The on-board computer check will confirm that no emissions-related diagnostic trouble codes are set and the necessary monitors have been run to completion or passed.

If all vehicles are compliant, the dealer inspection is complete. If a vehicle is not compliant, it will be photographed and a “Not for Sale” notice will be affixed to the vehicle’s window. The facility representative will be provided a “Notice to Correct” letter and instructions on the proper procedure to clear the notice. The vehicle cannot be offered for sale until it passes a Smog Check inspection and is issued a Certificate of Compliance by an official Referee station. Upon passing a Smog Check inspection, the Referee inspector will remove the “Not for Sale” notice from the vehicle.

Some common reasons for inspection failure are:

  • Illuminated check engine light
  • Incomplete readiness monitors (i.e., the vehicle’s on-board self-test of each emissions system)
  • Missing or incorrect catalytic converter(s)
  • Missing, disconnected, damaged, or tampered emissions system components
  • Non-approved aftermarket parts
  • Not having a Smog Check Certificate of Compliance at the time of the inspection

The following are some precautions used car dealers can take to avoid vehicles on their lot that are not able to pass a Smog Check inspection and to ensure compliance with Vehicle Code section 24007:

  • Prior to obtaining a vehicle intended for resale, check the vehicle’s Smog Check history on BAR’s website at This tool will also show if a vehicle has been directed to a Referee.
  • Prior to obtaining a vehicle intended for resale, check for open safety recalls on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website at
  • Perform a reconditioning/safety inspection on all vehicles before the Smog Check inspection.
  • Be conscientious of the vehicle’s keep-alive memory. Maintain the vehicle’s 12-volt battery and avoid disconnecting, if possible. If a vehicle’s battery dies or is disconnected, ensure the readiness monitors are completed prior to offering the vehicle for sale.
  • Ensure every vehicle is issued a valid Smog Check Certificate of Compliance prior to offering it for sale.

BAR’s Used Vehicle Inspection Program is not only an important safeguard for consumers, but also an effective tool to promote a fair and competitive marketplace for all car dealers.

Printable Version