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What is a Gross Polluter ?
September 2001

Clean air is everyone’s job!

Passing Vehicles—Vehicles with emission levels below their allowable standards.

Failing Vehicles—Vehicles with emission levels above their allowable standards and/or those that have missing or modified emission control parts. These vehicles usually have a high level of deterioration and/or a significant emissions control system defect that needs repair.

Gross Polluters—These are the worst polluting vehicles on the road and pollute much more than a typical failing vehicle. Gross Polluter Standards vary according to the age and type of vehicle. For example, a 1987-92 vehicle that is a Gross Polluter pollutes an average of 18 times more than the average Passing Vehicle for that category. These vehicles also usually have a high level of deterioration and/or a major system defect or tampered emission control system that needs repair.

Some vehicles that fail their smog inspections emit such high levels of pollution that a category, called Gross Polluter, was created in law to identify and encourage the repair of the worst polluting vehicles on California’s roadways.

Vehicles produce half of the smog in the state. Although Gross Polluters represent only 10 to 15 percent of all California vehicles, they are responsible for over 50 percent of vehicle smog.

Gross Polluters pollute much more than a typical failing vehicle. The emission level at which a vehicle fails as a Gross Polluter varies according the vehicle type and year.

Additionally, older vehicles are not held to the same standards as newer vehicles because older vehicles were built to a less stringent standard when originally manufactured.

By law, a Gross Polluter must be certified at a separate facility -- a Test-Only station -- from the one that repaired the vehicle.

However, a Gross Polluter Certification Pilot has been created to test the feasibility of having Gross Polluters repaired and certified at the same location. There are over 100 of these pilot stations throughout California for the convenience of motorists.

For motorists who cannot afford to make repairs, there are three options under the Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) that offer some temporary financial relief. For more information on Repair Assistance, Repair Cost Waiver, and Vehicle Retirement call (800) 952-5210 or visit our web site at www.smogcheck.ca.gov.

If you are considering buying or selling a used car, remember it must first pass a Smog Check. Be careful not to let any money change hands until the seller has provided you with the Vehicle Inspection Report that will tell you if the vehicle has passed its Smog Check inspection. After failing a Smog Check you should also check to see if your vehicle's warranty will cover any necessary repairs.

Gross Polluters create more smog than all other vehicles. So keep your vehicles well-maintained. It will save you money on gas mileage and major engine failures, extend the life of your vehicle, help you pass your Smog Check, and allow all Californians to breathe a little easier.

California Department of Consumer Affairs Hotline 1-800-952-5210

Smog Check Web site—www.smogcheck.ca.gov

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