Moving: CA Smog Test

I’m from Michigan and I have a 92 camry with ~169k miles on it that burns and leaks a bit of oil. The A/C stopped working last summer. Would it be worth it to try to get my car fixed up and pass the smog test? How hard is it to pass, and are there different standards for each car model/year?

I’m probably only gonna be in Cali for about a year, but possibly longer. Can I just keep my Michigan plates and be ok, and if so for how long?

I’ll be driving down there (~2300 miles) and will have to drive back to Michigan at some point. Is the Camry worth repairing?

I’m already leaning strongly towards just keeping the Camry because I love it, and if I have to buy a new used car my budget would be 7k max.

I would suggest starting by checking with the California authorities to make sure what the current regulations are. You may not need to meet any higher level of testing than you would in other states.

I haven’t lived in California for decades, but it used to be that your car just had to have all its manufacturer emissions gear hooked up and meet the emissions standards it was built to. e.g. My 1979 Mazda GLC just had to meet Massachusetts standards. I believe that by 1992, California and US standards were the same anyway. State residence is very complicated. If you aren’t working in California and don’t plan to stay, you can probably drive legally with your Michigan license and Michigan plates … maybe. There are special rules for the military BTW but they usually don’t extend to military contractors.

Burns oil? It’ll probably burn more by the time you are through.

If you conclude that you are going to need to pass a California emissions test, you might look into whether you can get an tailpipe emissions test run in Michigan. Just how close you are to passing a California test may be a factor in your decision about whether to drive it to California.

Drive a 17 year old car to California and back? Sure, why not? It’ll be an adventure.

I would seriously consider trying to drive it for a year with Michigan plates.

Be warned that California cops are REALLY tuned in to watching for out of state plates that circulate for more than 30 days because so many people come in with modified cars that cannot be licensed here. Also, locals try modifying their cars and putting Nevada plates on them. A friend recently got busted for having a supercharged Corvette with Nevada plates. He made it about 9 months only driving it on weekends before he got caught.

However, the cops are looking for Cameros and Mustangs and Corvettes with out of state plates, they are far less likely to notice a Camry.

Parents are offering to buy me a new used car now since they’re worried about the camry. I told them that’d it’d most likely be better to put $2k max into the camry then to buy a new car since I haven’t had any major problems with the camry, and there’s no guarantee that the new car we get would pass emissions test anyways.

What do you think? Would it be worth it to buy something used here for 12k max? I don’t see why driving the camry down would be a problem but maybe I’m wrong? I haven’t brought it up yet but I don’t think they’d be too keen on me driving the camry down and buying a car in cali since they won’t be there. I could still always buy a car there myself if the camry breaks there or something.

I’m taking the camry in to get looked at tomorrow but I don’t think it’ll have any serious problems since it got looked at 4-5 years ago. If I was still driving this car in michigan I wouldn’t expect it to have any serious problems for at least the next 12k miles.

Does it visibly burn oil? Can you you see blue smoke from the exhaust? If you do, then you might get stopped in Ca just for that. If not, then you should be able to keep your Michigan plates…especially if you keep your address in Michigan.

Ca is a real pain when it comes to emissions. I lived there for a few years in the late 90’s.

There’s no smoke from the exhaust as far as I know except in the winter white smokes comes out when the car idles.

Make sure check Engine light is not on. now in addition to an emission test,they test the fuel evaporative system. they pressurize the gas tank and vaccuum hoses to it to make sure there is no leaks. they do a visual inspection pretty well so make sure nothings been tampered with. My suggestion is to have a smog pretest done first then you’ll know what it needs. been dealing with CA smog checks for a long time.