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

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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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Pardeep

20 years of experience
652 reviews
Pardeep
20 years of experience
Ford Fusion - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Fremont, California
Again 5 star service. And already scheduling him for my next appointment. Highly recommend Pardeep for your car needs.
Chevrolet Camaro - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - San Jose, California
Great knowledgeable mechanic and fast great work. I will use Pardeep and your services again. Thank you

Theodore

15 years of experience
1137 reviews
Theodore
15 years of experience
Toyota Camry - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Everett, Washington
Theodore arrived on time, he did a great job replacing my brakes on my Camry, I will definitely work with him again.
Subaru Outback - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Renton, Washington
We have had previous work done by Theodore. Really appreciate his thoroughness and professionalism!

Matthew

32 years of experience
734 reviews
Matthew
32 years of experience
Jeep Wrangler - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Yorktown, Virginia
We've been using Your Mechanic services for a few years, for a few reasons. The convenience of having an expert mechanic "on-call," the great pricing and transparency for services (saving 10% - 25% at times), most of all Matt is our go-to guy who is highly qualified, knowledgeable in the work and knows how to explain it to us in detail.
Ford F-150 - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Newport News, Virginia
Matt's technical knowledge of his profession is incredible! He is prompt, thorough, friendly, professional, engaging, and completes the job to 100% perfection! Thank you, Matt for the most outstanding auto repair service in all my many years!!!

Jason

31 years of experience
162 reviews
Jason
31 years of experience
Nissan Altima - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - San Mateo, California
Jason was very professional and friendly. He provided extremely honest and helpful advice on issues with my Altima that would require proactive future maintenance.

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