January 4th, 2013
The California Department of Motor Vehicles has put in to motion a plan to offer vintage-reissue “legacy” license plates using classic designs from the 1950s through the 1980s.
The black-on-yellow license plates were in circulation from 1956 to 1962, the yellow-on-black from 1963 to 1969, and the yellow-on-blue plates from 1970 to 1982. For a personalized plate fee of $50, the CA DMV is now taking pre-orders for any of the three classic designs, allowing for a period-correct look for your classic ride without going through the cost and bureaucratic hoops of finding and obtaining approval for old-stock plates.
If the Department receives 7,500 pre-orders by Jan. 1, 2015, the retro plates will be issued for $50 in addition to the cost of registration. Renewing registration will cost an extra $40. If the 7,500-unit target is not met, all who pre-ordered will receive a refund, and the plates will not be printed.
The program has raised some eyebrows from die-hard classic car enthusiasts, who maintain that only a true “California car” in continuous circulation should have the right to display classic CA plates. Still, a 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang with modern red-on-white plates just doesn’t look right, so consider us on-board. Here’s a little history on California license plates from the CA DMV.
November 3rd, 2011
The State of California mandates SMOG checks for most vehicles seeing duty on the state’s roads, a well-intentioned system that cuts down on air pollution but can prove to be an infuriating headache for some car owners. Here’s the 5 top questions we see about SMOG in California.
1. Does my car need a SMOG Check every year?
In most cases in California you are required to SMOG check your car every two years, and to provide proof of passing at the time of vehicle registration or title transfer. You can still pay your registration to avoid late fees, but will not get your new registration tags until you have produced proof of SMOG certification. Some counties in California are exempt (check your ZIP code here).
2. Which cars are exempt from SMOG Checks?
Model-year 1975 and older cars do not need a SMOG check. Older (pre-1998) diesel cars, or diesel models with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 14,000 lbs. are also exempt. Hybrids and electric cars are exempt due to their lower (or no) emissions. Natural-gas-powered vehicles with a GVWR of more than 14,000 lbs. do not require SMOG check.
3. If I sell my car, who is responsible for the SMOG Check?
According to state law, you as the seller are responsible to make sure your car is smogged. You must provide the buyer with a passing smog certificate (valid for 90 days) unless you have obtained the test within the last 90 days. If selling your car to a dealer or as a trade-in, this will often be taken care of for you. Many private party sellers ignore this requirement, so always use special care when buying a used car to be aware of its SMOG status.
4. What should I do if my car fails?
First take the car to a trusted mechanic. Likely fail-causing culprits include the catalytic converters, EGR valve, oxygen sensors, vacuum leaks, on-board computer problems or incorrect ignition timing. Poor maintenance can cause a car to fail visual inspection, even if its emission numbers are in line with requirements. Rather that starting by replacing every suspected part, determine the best course of action with your mechanic before beginning repairs. California offers a SMOG repair credit program, offering around $500 in repair subsidies to those individuals who cannot afford to make their cars pass smog. The state also offers a program giving up to $1,500 to those who choose to voluntarily scrap their car.
5. My car is fairly new. Am I still required to get a SMOG Check?
New cars do not require a smog check in their first 6 years since the original date of purchase. When selling a car 4 model-years old or newer you are not required to obtain a smog check.