California forces consumers to have their cars smog tested every other year. Vehicle pollutants make up 60% of the airborne components in the Valley's smog. So, if the problem is as bad as reported, why do we only test every other year?
Testing vehicles does not clean the air. A vehicle operating at maximum efficiency is what will help the Valley's air quality. Is that "check engine" malfunction light illuminated on your vehicle's dash? If so, then you are part of the problem.
The "check engine" malfunction indicator light, also known as MIL, on 1996 to current-year model vehicles, is a computerized warning device for any malfunction that will affect vehicular emissions. A rapidly flashing MIL light indicates a condition that will cause severe damage to the vehicle's catalyst system, usually caused by an ignition misfire.
With the price of fuel, it makes good sense to perform vehicle maintenance at recommended intervals, plus you'll do everyone in the Valley a favor, since tail-pipe emissions will be reduced.
There is repair assistance for low-income and test-only directed motorists for failed biennial smog tests. Information about the state's "Breathe Easier" consumer assistance program can be found at www.smogcheck.ca.gov.