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.


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Greg

22 years of experience
47 reviews
Greg
22 years of experience
Ram 1500 - Oil Change - Phoenix, Arizona
I really appreciate the time Greg took to answer all my questions and thoroughly explain what was working as expected and recommended repairs. He didn't try and upsell me on anything other than the immediate recommended services, and alerted me of the 15 safety recalls my truck currently has. Very professional, efficient, and knowledgeable. Would highly recommend.
Lexus LC500 - Oil Change - Tempe, Arizona
Informed me correctly that tires on a Lexus LC500 does not need tire rotation and yet YourMechanic.com recommended it more than once and sent a technician before him to rotate my tires for which I was charged.

Nazareth

27 years of experience
193 reviews
Nazareth
27 years of experience
Jaguar XJ - Oil Change - Covina, California
First time using YourMechanic and I was extremely satisfied with the service. Nazareth was very friendly, punctual and professional. I definitely will continue using his services on my vehicle. Thank you Nazareth!
Ford Escape - Oil Change - Whittier, California
Nazareth was on time, very friendly, very courteous, and professional. Nazareth ensured all my questions were answered and ensured the car was good to go via a test drive.

LAVELL

27 years of experience
100 reviews
LAVELL
27 years of experience
Honda Accord - Oil Change - San Francisco, California
Lavell was extremely friendly and professional, and even showed up early and finished early. Would happily recommend him to anyone looking for a mechanic.
Buick Encore - Oil Change - Oakland, California
Another home run! Really appreciate the flexibility regarding my service appointment. Due to my work schedule I desperately needed a late appointment. So grateful my car is receiving top shelf professional service. Replaced a oil pan drain plug that was seriously damaged and stripped by a competitor that will NEVER get my business again! All services were quickly completed. Thank you so much for another great experience with my.... Your Mechanic Lavell 5 ⭐️ Service consistently.

John

27 years of experience
777 reviews
John
27 years of experience
Nissan Pathfinder - Oil Change - Friendswood, Texas
John was extremely personable and explained everything. Showed up on time and made sure everything was working right before he left. Couldn’t have a better mechanic to rely on.
Kia Seltos - Oil Change - Houston, Texas
Arrived early, was super nice, had the job done in no time. Was able to find his way around my new with no problems even though he hadn't worked on that type before. Will be requesting him for future maintenance.

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