Avoiding Even the Accusation of Fraudulent SMOG Testing Activities

Cheating may be a common practice among some folks. Their ‘moral compass’ allows them to bend the rules to get ahead. To get that job interview, a candidate might lie and add a swanky university like UC Berkeley or Stanford to their resume. Bureau of Automotive Repair undercover cars and smog testingOr a California business owner thinks they can cheat on their taxes and hide additional income in financial ‘nooks and crannies.’ The thing with cheating is that it’s a gamble; sometimes you get away with it, and sometimes you don’t. And if you get caught, the penalties can far outweigh the benefits.

Yes, we know that SMOG stations can cheat too. Some technicians play the game using underhanded strategies like clean plugging (pulling the OBDII Data from a passing vehicle and applying it to another car). Or they manipulate SMOG testing equipment. Some even mix ethanol or methanol with gasoline to get cooler combustion. Additives like these are legal to clean an engine but not for passing a smog test.

These underhanded techniques could be applied with the knowledge of the car owner or the shop owner. If they don’t get caught, everyone is home free. But if they do, then everyone could be penalized. The car owner could be fined up to $1,000. While the station owner could be fined over $ 5,000 and lose their smog testing license for good. That’s quite the risk. But some are willing to take that gamble.

And that’s why the Bureau of Automotive Repair is so vigilant about emissions testing. Their job is to ensure cleaner air in California. And they don’t abide by cheaters.

As former SMOG technicians and shop owners, we know most SMOG testing professionals take their work seriously and would never cheat to pass a car through a smog test. But the Bureau of Automotive Repair sends out undercover vehicles from time to time. Whether there’s a reason to or not. So, when an honest technician does their best to get a car to pass the smog testing criteria, an undercover vehicle may fool them. And yes, that’s very unfair.


As we said, BAR undercover car agents have a job to do. But sometimes, they are too eager to accuse a smog testing station of cheating. And if an innocent technician has been charged with this, they might respond poorly. Which may only make things worse. For instance, depending on one’s personality, here are four responses to a BAR accusation.

Get Mad and get Belligerent: A tech could be enraged and accuse a BAR undercover car of setting them up. For someone who’s worked hard and invested their time and money to become an expert smog technician, it’s an insult. Unfortunately, hostility only seems to flame the determination of BAR attorneys to win in court.
Become Defensive: A detail-oriented personality who prides themselves on doing everything ‘by the book’ may begin to question themselves. How could the mistake have happened? It wasn’t intentional, so can they give you a break? These pleas will fall on deaf ears.

Avoidance: Throw the BAR accusation letter aside and ignore it. There’s plenty of work to do, and won’t they move on to the next SMOG tech who really is cheating? Techs may be innocent, but that letter means the Bureau of Automotive Repair expects a response, and they won’t walk away.

Give Up and Accept the Charges: While all the other behaviors are not helpful, this is the worst way to respond. If you were tricked, you need to contact an attorney. Accepting guilt for something you did not do is not only bad for your reputation, it’s costly. Each accusation that isn’t contested will end up on a smog shop record. If this continues, it can add up to losing a smog testing license.

If you feel you have been cheated by a Bureau of Automotive Repair Undercover Car, don’t allow the above behaviors to take over your good judgment. You have every right to feel mad and defensive about the sneaky tactics, but you also need an attorney. We are very familiar with what BAR agents do with their undercover vehicles (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-AWRy_KpFs), and we will deal with the accusation promptly.


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