What To Do With A Car That Can’t Pass Smog Check

If you already know your car won’t pass emissions inspections, it’s time to figure out what your options are. WeBuyJunkCarsFast can help.


Get an Online Offer from a Junk Yard Near you

Fair Prices

Fair-Market Prices For Your Junk Cars

FREE Towing

Fast Pick-Up In Under 48 Business Hours

Great Service

Quick, Easy And Hassle-Free!

What Happens If You Failed Emissions Inspection?

If you live in the United States, then you’ve likely heard of California and its strict emissions inspections for automobiles. You may not be as familiar with the fact that the Golden State isn’t the only state with emissions inspection programs.

When your vehicle fails an emissions inspection, it may come as a total surprise. Your car can be running as smooth as ever and still fail an emissions check. The reason behind the failure can be a cracked gas cap to something wrong with your overall exhaust system.

Your first failure of an emissions test just means you’ve got some work to do with your vehicle in order to pass a re-test. After failing, the lane operator will provide you with a vehicle inspection report detailing why your car failed the emissions test.

You want to present this document at the auto-repair shop you take your car to. It will assist in the vehicle diagnostic and make performing the required emissions repairs that much smoother.

Person performing an missions test

How to Prepare For An Emissions Test

There’s no way to “cheat” the emissions testing equipment. Your best bet is to get your vehicle ready for your next evaluation. Some of the things you can do in preparation include:

Check Your Oil - If necessary, change your oil before an inspection or make sure it's at the oil level the manufacturer guidelines necessitate.

Check Your Coolant - Your coolant levels can also play a part in whether or not your vehicle passes the emissions test. If you’re low on coolant, ensure that you replace it to the recommended level.

Warm Your Engine - It’s best to get your engine running for at least 15 minutes prior to the examination (on the freeway, if it’s possible), because that is when it is most efficient. Keep your engine running while you wait for the inspection.

Turn Your Radio & Air Conditioning Off - Your engine runs more efficiently when the car’s accessories are turned off.

Check Your Gas Cap - A loose gas cap or one that has an improper seal can also impact your engine’s efficiency. Check that beforehand in order to do your best during the emissions inspection.

What Happens If You Failed An Emissions Test Twice?

If you fail an emissions test twice, one of two outcomes can occur: you will either receive a waiver or you will be stopped from renewing your registration (depending on whatever state you’re in).

A waiver is proof that you have spent a particular amount of money on the inspection and repair of your vehicle after failing an emissions test. The repairs must have been administered by a Certified Emissions Repair Technician.

Waivers are not available in every state. Calling your local DMV and double-checking their availability is important.

What Does An Emissions Inspection Check?

Person checking emissions report

An emissions inspection (often referred to as a smog check) tests the level of pollutants your vehicle emits into the air. These pollutants present in vehicle exhaust include:

  • Hydrocarbons

  • Oxygen

  • Carbon Monoxide

  • Oxides of Nitrogen

An emissions inspection will also make sure your car’s parts that filter the exhaust are in place. Your catalytic converter is a component of your exhaust system that is often the target of theft. If it is missing, you will not pass an emissions test until it is replaced.

The costs of replacing a catalytic converter can range from $400-$3,000.

What To Do If Your Car Fails Emissions

In the event that your car fails an emissions inspection, you’ll be put in a position where you’re required to repair it or forgo driving the car. That said, sometimes putting money into repairing an emission inefficient vehicle is a bad financial decision.

WeBuyJunkCarsFast is here when you don’t feel like sinking money into a car that isn’t emission efficient. We specialize in taking cars that might be at the tail end of their life off your hands. Our process is so simple it can be broken down into three steps:

Step 1: Get your free quote! Simply enter some basic information about your car on our website and you’ll receive a free and guaranteed quote within 90 seconds.

Towing is complementary, so you’ll never have to worry about hidden or additional fees taking away from the profits you take home.

Step 2: Schedule your pickup within 24-48 hours! If you’re happy with your quote, you’ll be able to schedule your vehicle retrieval with one of our partners within your area. They’re trusted to come to you at a time that works best for you.

Step 3: Complete your sale! After a quick inspection and transferring of your title, you’ll receive the amount you were quoted, no haggling or fuss. Your vehicle is taken off your hands and money is put in them!

Contact WeBuyJunkCarsFast and let us do exactly what our name says!

Is replacing a catalytic converter expensive?

The average cost of replacing a catalytic converter ranges anywhere from $400-$3,000. They tend to cost more if your car is larger or more complex (like a hybrid).

Why is a broken exhaust system dangerous?

A broken exhaust system is dangerous because the lack of proper filtration means carbon monoxide (CO) is being released in large amounts. Carbon Monoxide is odorless, tasteless, and extremely toxic and can travel into your passenger cabin and cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

It’s a Quick and Easy Process


Tell us About Your Vehicle

Answer a few quick questions and provide a picture if you can.


Get Your Offer

In less than two minutes, you’ll have a guaranteed offer.



Accept the offer if you’re happy with it.


Get Paid

Within 24-48 hours, we will tow your car for FREE and pay you on the spot!

Get An Offer Online

What Is Your Junk Car Worth?

Cash for Junk Cars