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Old 01-22-2005, 02:55 AM
ard ard is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 21
california smog check - dealer or test only station?


my '97 E420 (California car) is due for a smog check and I am looking for advice whether I should have the smog check done at the dealer or an independent "Test Only" station (FWIW, I searched the forums and didn't find anything).

Main consideration is price: Bay Area dealers are quoting $130 - $160 (!) for a smog check - a "Test Only" station charges $70.

The only reason this ISN'T a no-brainer is that I once had taken another recent-model import car to a non-dealer for a smog check and the monkey doing the test fried the on-board computer (!), and subsequently denied it (long story ...). Since that experience I have learned the true meaning of "penny wise, pound foolish". The E420 has always been smogged at the dealer, but the new smog tests in CA appear to be driving prices through the roof.

Anybody have any insights on the quality of service rendered by the "Test Only" smog stations vis-a-vis the dealers? $100 less for the same battery of tests? What gives?

I do a reasonable amount of work on my cars, so visiting the dealer is rarely the preferred option for me.

Thanks in advance

1997 E420
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