New Smog Check Requirements for Trucks May Help LA’s Air Quality

No one gets excited about getting a smog check, but there’s one thing all Los Angeles residents can look forward to: Fewer days in which our local mountains disappear in a cloud of brown haze. Numerous factors contribute to pollution in southern California, including smoke from wildfires and chemicals produced by refineries and other factories. The main cause of air pollution in LA County, however, comes from the emissions produced by the vehicles backed up on the 405. 

The air quality in LA has improved dramatically in the past 30 years, but cars and trucks are still responsible for over 50% of all emissions. In hopes of further reducing the number of days that our Google Home devices tell us that the air quality is too unhealthy for a walk on the beach, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is cracking down on trucks. 

An intense smog check just screened 1,200 trucks at the Port of Los Angeles

Trucking smog check at the port of Los Angeles

Anyone who lives in San Pedro is familiar with the impact of heavy truck traffic on air quality. To ease the persistent problem, CARB debuted its latest roadside smog check tech at a recent screening event near the port. The new system, dubbed the Portable Emissions Acquisition System (PEAQS), can measure truck emissions anywhere, making it easier for heavy-duty vehicles to get their smog check out of the way. 

The event was only a preview of what’s coming soon, but it gives truck drivers and fleet owners an idea of what smog checks will look like in the foreseeable future.

California’s new Heavy-Duty Inspection and Maintenance Program is rolling out in 2023

The new smog check program will launch in phases to give everyone time to adjust. Phase one starts in January, with the PEAQS deploying to the areas with the heaviest trucking traffic to screen for high-emitting vehicles. Later in the year, phase two will mandate all heavy-duty trucks be screened. In 2024, showing proof of a smog check will be required for heavy-duty truck registration in California.

If a vehicle doesn’t meet the new emissions compliance standards, it can’t be registered until its emissions control equipment is updated. Initially, emissions inspections for trucks with onboard diagnostic systems will be required twice a year, increasing to four times per year in 2027. Vehicles will also have to register with CARB and get a certificate of compliance to continue operating in the state. 

The new laws apply to all trucks operating in California

Any heavy-duty trucks, motorhomes, buses and other vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of over 14,000 pounds will need to comply with the HD I/M program beginning in 2023, even if they aren’t registered in the state. Even if you just drive through periodically, get that smog check out of the way to avoid penalties!

Smog checks are a hassle, but the new program aims to make it easy

Owners could face fines for non-compliance, but penalties aren’t the point. The emissions control equipment in heavy-duty trucks is intended to function for the life of the vehicle. If it doesn’t, owners will actually spend more on fuel costs, in addition to releasing more harmful emissions than necessary. By catching problems early, the new regulations will theoretically kill two birds with one stone. 

CARB is also hoping to make the process as effortless for owners and operators as possible. Unlike smog checks for passenger vehicles, those for heavy-duty vehicles can be conducted remotely– Either with the truck’s built-in OBD system or getting a scan performed by a CARB-credentialed tester. Since over 75% of heavy-duty trucks are projected to have OBD equipment advanced enough to send this data automatically by the program’s launch date, it should be a breeze. 

We hope that the process is as easy as CARB anticipates, but BYX is happy about any program promising better air quality in our community. Breathe easy, CA, and don’t forget to get a smog check.

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