Roadside Inspection Program

The Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) established the Roadside Inspection Program in the mid-1980s to evaluate the effectiveness of the California Smog Check Program in reducing motor vehicle emissions. Pursuant to Health and Safety Code section 44081, the program collects emissions information from motor vehicles operating on California roadways and compares the data to results from inspections performed by licensed Smog Check stations.

Why are roadside surveys necessary?

The data collected from roadside surveys provides an overview of the emissions emitted by vehicles driven on California's roads to help ensure the state is meeting federal standards for reducing ozone-forming pollution generated by motor vehicles. The data also provides useful information to evaluate and improve the performance of the Smog Check Program.

Where are roadside surveys performed?

The surveys are performed in the areas of the state with large vehicle populations and air quality issues. These include the Central Valley, San Francisco Bay area, greater Los Angeles area, Inland Empire, and San Diego. BAR randomly selects ZIP codes in these areas and then identifies suitable sites where it can safely conduct the surveys.

Who performs the roadside surveys?

Roadside surveys are performed by BAR with assistance from the California Highway Patrol. Each survey team generally consists of three or four BAR representatives, all of whom are ASE-certified automotive technicians.

How are the roadside surveys performed?

Vehicles are selected for the survey using an automated license plate reader. The consumer is stopped by an officer of the California Highway Patrol and greeted by a BAR representative who provides them with information about the survey's purpose and answers any question they may have. The survey is performed in a manner similar to a Smog Check inspection and usually takes less than 10 minutes.

How do these surveys affect consumers?

Participation in the survey is voluntary. There are no consequences to consumers, regardless of their vehicle's emission control equipment or its emission levels. At the conclusion of the survey, the participants receive a Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) detailing the results of the survey. BAR staff will also alert participants to any mechanical issues that are observed while conducting the survey.

Does the survey take the place of a required Smog Check inspection?

No. The survey does not take the place of a normal, biennially required Smog Check inspection.

Consumers who participate in the survey play a key role in helping improve air quality in California. To learn about more ways you can help to reduce air pollution, visit