How to Become a Certified Mobile Vehicle Inspector (State Car Inspector Certified) in California

The state of California does not require a safety or VIN inspection in order to register a vehicle; however, California does require all motor vehicles to pass a smog inspection, with a few exceptions. Inspection certifications are awarded by the state, and can offer those seeking an automotive technician job an excellent way to build their resume.

California motor vehicle inspection licensing

In order to become a certified smog check inspector in California, a mechanic must complete two levels of state-administered training, and pass the state-administered exam.

Level 1 Training is designed for mechanics who have little to no experience with smog checks and emissions systems. If a mechanic possesses the A6, A8, and L1 ASE certifications; or they possess an associates degree and have one year of practical work experience; or they have two years of practical work experience and have completed BAR specified training, then they may skip the Level 1 training.

This course must be completed at a BAR-certified school, and consists of 68 unit hours.

Level 2 training is required for all mechanics who want to become licensed smog inspectors. This course is 28 unit hours, and must be completed at a BAR-certified school.

Upon completing the course and passing the state examination, a mechanic must complete four hours of BAR-certified update training every two years to keep their smog inspector’s license current.

Which vehicles must be inspected in California?

The following exemptions are the only scenarios in which a vehicle does not have to be safety inspected in the state of California:

  • Diesel-powered vehicles older than model year 1997, or with a GVWR of more than 14,000 pounds.

  • Electric or natural gas vehicles with a GVWR of more than 14,000 pounds.

  • Motorcycles

  • Trailers

  • Gasoline-powered vehicles older than model year 1975.

Vehicles that are required to be inspected must have a new smog inspection every other year, and when the title changes hands. Smog inspections must be performed within 90 days of the date of registration to be valid for renewal.

Certified vehicle inspector salary

Becoming a certified vehicle inspector can be a great way to build an automotive service technician career; but one of the things that many mechanics wish to know is how a certification may change their auto mechanic salary options. According to Salary Expert, the average annual salary for a smog technician in California is $22,500. In contrast, the average annual salary for a Californian mobile mechanic, like our team at YourMechanic, is $53,050.

If you’re already a certified mechanic and you’re interested in working with YourMechanic, submit an online application for an opportunity to become a mobile mechanic.


The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

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