2007 Honda Civic can't pass smog in CA? What should I do?

You need to get your information on the program from your Department of Motor Vehicles (or whatever they call it in CA). They’re the experts and they can give you the details.

I would recommend NOT beginning to throw money at the car until you have the actual requirement from the official agency.

I’ve been pretty good about getting oil changes when required but I haven’t been great about getting suggested tune-ups.

I’ve been good about getting oil changes but haven’t gotten any tuneups.

Tune-ups are something of the past, the spark plugs on this car should be replaced every 110,000 miles.

Here is a link to the California Consumer assistance program, you must be below the income limit to be eligible;


give us a link to the $500 maximum repair expense program

As mentioned above, the quickest way to get the info the OP needs is to phone them. What assistance is available likely depends on the make/model/year of the car and the OP’s income.


The program may pay up to $500 towards the repair (for those with limited income). If the repair is $2,000 plus, the program pays $500, the owner pays the balance.

I can’t imagine a program that offers a $500 maximum to the vehicle owner for emissions repair and the state or county paying the balance. If a Lexus owner needs a $5,000 traction battery for their hybrid should the the program pay for the balance of the repair?

The retirement program might appeal to the OP if eligible, this pays $1,000 or $1,500 to retire the vehicle, likely more than street value for a high mileage car that can’t pass the state emissions test without major repair. The shame is retiring a clean emissions vehicle like this while 1973 Fords are exempt from testing. I like classics but it seems this program is flawed.

I don’t know how CA does it, but here in PA, once you spend a certain amount chasing an emissions problem, you get an exemption for the year. Save your receipts! It’s to counter the astute observation that emissions testing negatively impacts the mobility of the working poor, and their ability to retain employment. So, they cut you a break, if you can at least show you tried to fix it.

OP has not yet spent any money “chasing” emissions problems

OP hasn’t spent any money on actual repairs yet

AFAIK . . . a proper diagnosis hasn’t even been performed yet

I can't imagine a program that offers a $500 maximum to the vehicle owner for emissions repair and the state or county paying the balance. If a Lexus owner needs a $5,000 traction battery for their hybrid should the the program pay for the balance of the repair?

I’d guess a max-out-of-pocket program would go like this: Say the shop says to pass emissions you need a $1000 cat, a $500 valve adjustment job. If the maximum out of pocket you’d be required to spend was $500 based on the terms of the program, then you would just get the valve adjustment done, and not replace the cat. The state or country wouldn’t be paying to replace cat; the cat just wouldn’t get replaced.

Ok, I’m at a loss here:

I’ve been to a few more places and they say the battery needs to be replaced (It’s really weak up hills and now is driving very jerky-jerky/bad acceleration). This car is notorious for having crappy batteries and a new battery is about $2000, bringing my grand total of repairs to about $3500 on a car with 180,000 miles and in need of body work. It just doesn’t seem to make sense to pour all that dough in the car.

The catch is, I can’t sell it unless it passes smog. I’m hearing that I can sell it out of state or to a dealer though. But the catch to that is, I have several fixit tickets because the car isn’t registered due to not passing smog (I’ve paid for 2016 registration but I can’t get officially registered until it passes smog).

It seems like my best bet is to sell the car and buy something new but how do I deal with the fix it tickets?

Also, what’s my best bet for about $7-8,000 in terms of a new car?

The newest Accord or Camry that you can get for the money . . . no hybrid

The Ford Fusion is undervalued, IMO. You may like the seating position. I found it to be odd, as well as the layout of the controls

But most of the car magazines really like it, and it’s supposed to be pretty reliable, as well

You can’t sell it as a “parts car” or to a junkyard?

You can sell it to me, 7 to 8 k for a new car ain’t gonna happen, want an 02 saturn ls2 in fine shape as a trade with cash for you? Pending smog test pass for the saturn?.

If I lived in California and had a vehicle not worth repairing instead of a 7 to 8 thousand dollar used car I would consider the closeout Mit Mirage new if it met my needs.

You may be in a difficult-to-hurdle catch-22. You can’t pass smog, so you can’t license and drive it, and you can’t sell it either, until you do pass smog. Plus you’ve got those fix-it tickets which you can’t address until the car is registered.

hmmm … well, in some cases, here in California you can’t even junk a car at the shredders unless if first passes smog. That may only apply though if you are seeking that Calif cash incentive to junk it. Calif’s emissions rules are perplexing for those of us who come up against them occasionally, but they probably are done that way to prevent people from gaming the system.

Quiote a few years ago I’d loaned a small utility trailer of mine to a fellow in Nevada to use on his ranch for several years b/c of a change in circumstances I no longer had a place to park it. I figured he might as well use it to haul stuff around on his ranch. He didn’t need to license it in Nevada b/c he only used it on his own ranch property, not on any roads. So when he said he was done with it, and offered to give it back to me, when I tried to get plates, the DMV insisted I pay back registration fees for all those years it was in Nevada. The back registration fees accumulated to more than what the trailer was worth. So I just told the Nevada rancher to keep it.

One part of your problem OP that is especially confusing to me is why the hybrid battery is involved in the emissions rules. I mean the hybrid battery powers an electric motor. There’s no emissions from an electric motor. Perhaps it is b/c if the hybrid battery isn’t holding a charge, the gasoline engine is running more often, and therefore has higher overall emissions? OP, do you know why the hybrid battery condition affects emissions testing?

Probably what you’re going to have to do is ask for a hearing with the DMV. You’ll likely then be allowed to explain the situation from your point of view to a referee who deals with these kinds of problems as their daily job and hopefully they’ll be able to come up with a solution.

... do you know why the hybrid battery condition affects emissions testing?

I can guess. When my 2001 Civic torque converter lock-up clutch stopped working, it threw a code. Emissions were increased because I was getting fewer mpgs. The same would apply to the hybrid battery.

Sounds like you need to check into that waiver requirement (the spend $500 and get a waiver deal?) ASAP.

You can get a use hybrid battery for under $1000 and a refurbished battery for a little more than $1000. If you are going to sell the car, you don’t need a new battery. Check around your home for an independent shop that will replace your old hybrid battery with a used or refurbished unit. Then work on the rest of it. You might even decide to keep the car if you can repair it for a lot less.