California Clean-Piping & Faking Smog-check Results

Every vehicle sold or leased in the state of California requires a certificate of compliance, detailing a vehicle’s passing safety and smog-check inspections. In order to save themselves time and money, dealers sometimes try to bypass health and emission laws by falsifying vehicle smog-check certifications. Dealers may work in conjunction with mechanics to create passing grades for vehicles that would otherwise fail a smog check. Then a dealer may turn around and sell the vehicle with a fraudulent certification to a consumer, putting the consumer, the community, and the environment at serious risk.

A dealer is required by law to ensure a vehicle passes all safety and emission tests before its sale. Dealers are also legally required to provide a written certification of a vehicle’s passing status. The certificate issued by the dealer is good for 90 days from the date on the document. If a dealer falsifies a certificate or does not properly provide one to a buyer before selling a vehicle, then the dealer is breaking the law.

One of the most common ways that dealers and mechanics falsify smog checks is by using a method called clean piping. This method takes the testing data from a smog-check passing vehicle and uses it towards a failing vehicle. By faking the results of a smog-check exam, dealers avoid paying repair costs on a failing vehicle.

If you suspect that your dealer or mechanic falsified your vehicle’s smog-check certification then your health and vehicle are at risk. Smog emission standards protect drivers, their families, the community, and the environment, and attempts to falsify official documents are unlawful and punishable. You may be entitled to a vehicle refund or related damages.

Contact us at the Law Offices of Robert Mobasseri. We have a 99% success rate and extensive experience in auto fraud, dealer fraud, lemon law, and consumer protection. Call us a 213-282-2000 for a FREE consultation and one of our auto fraud attorneys can address your questions and concerns personally. You can also fill out a FREE online evaluation form through our website and a member of our firm will review the details of your case and contact you further about your next steps and legal options.

What is clean piping and how is it performed?

Clean piping is an unlawful method used by dealers and mechanics to avoid cooperating with California’s emission standards. When a smog-check is performed, a mechanic places a probe in a vehicle’s tailpipe in order to measure its smog emissions. If a vehicle fails a smog-check, it will require certain repairs in order to pass inspection.

However, many dealers wish to avoid paying for these repairs if the vehicle works in spite of its failing emission status. So, a mechanic and dealer might make an arrangement to falsify a vehicle’s smog inspection through clean piping. When clean piping occurs, the results from a successfully passing vehicle will be used in place of the failing vehicle’s. The mechanic will use the tailpipe probe to gather emissions readings from the inspection-passing vehicle, and pass it off as failing vehicle’s results. It may save the dealer some money in repairs, but clean piping is fraud: unlawful and punishable.

Why is clean piping unlawful?

Smog checks are required by the state in order to protect individuals, their communities, and the environment. In California, where smog is a particularly prevalent problem, emission inspections attempt to curb needless pollution. Smog can lead to many health problems in humans and it significantly impacts the environment. Dealers are legally required to have each vehicle they sell or lease inspected for safety and for emissions, and if a vehicle fails either inspection then it cannot be sold or leased to a consumer. If a dealer is aware of vehicle’s failing status, or if a dealer is aware of a fraudulent certificate, then it is unlawful for them to sell or lease that vehicle.

How can you tell if your vehicle’s smog-check results were altered?

It may be difficult for a consumer to tell if a vehicle’s smog-check test results were altered, especially if the dealer and the mechanic conspired to tamper with the inspection results. But, there are a few indicators to be aware of if you suspect foul play:

  • If your vehicle’s check engine light engaged shortly after leaving the dealer’s lot (anywhere from hours to a week or two after), then the cause may have something to do with your vehicle’s smog emissions. If you had your vehicle re-inspected at the dealer’s request and your vehicle passed its smog-check inspection, but your check engine light is still on – it’s possible that your dealer and the smog-check mechanic faked the results in order to avoid any necessary repairs on your vehicle. Clean piping is unlawful, but it is not difficult for a mechanic to perform, so it’s possible that your vehicle’s passing status is fraudulent.
  • If you left the lot with your vehicle without a formal certificate declaring your vehicle’s passing smog-check status, and instead were given one by your dealer later, be sure to confirm the dates of inspection. It’s not uncommon for a certificate to claim that a vehicle was inspected on a date that it may have actually been in your possession. Because dealers know that it is unlawful to have allowed you to leave their lot with your newly acquired vehicle without the proper smog-check certificate, they may alter certain dates and inspection protocols so that they are not liable for their initial error.
  • Why you need an attorney

    Though falsifying your vehicle’s smog inspection certificate may have been the work of your dealer and/or mechanic, if you possess a vehicle whose passing status is fraudulent, you may be facing a serious financial and health risk. If a dealer used clean piping or other methods to avoid paying for vehicle repairs and complying with state emission standards, then there is a good chance there are other aspects of your vehicle’s sale or lease that may have been unlawful.

    In addition, a failing smog-check inspection means that your vehicle is a health hazard to you, your family, your community, and the environment. Also, you should not be responsible for the repairs necessary to make your vehicle compliant with emission standards. It is the dealer’s legal responsibility to ensure that the vehicle leased or sold to you passed both safety and smog-check inspections, and any attempts to alter tests or failures to follow disclosure protocols are unlawful and actionable. If you suffered because of the wrongdoing or negligence of your dealer and/or mechanic, then you may be entitled to a vehicle refund, replacement, and related damages.

    Who We Are

    At the Law Offices of Robert Mobasseri we have a 99% success rate representing Californians in cases of auto fraud, dealer fraud, lemon law, and consumer protection. Our knowledge and experience have made us leaders in our field, and our aim is to fight for the rights of every consumer. We generally operate on a contingency basis, meaning all our fees are covered by the losing party when your case is won. With a success rate like ours, our firm ensures that securing legal representation does not mean undertaking financial hardship.

    If you believe that your vehicle’s smog-check inspection was altered unlawfully, or if you were not provided with the proper smog-check certificates at the time of your vehicle’s sale or lease, contact us at the Law Offices of Robert Mobasseri. Reach us at 213-282-2000 for a FREE consultation with one of our auto fraud attorneys who can answer any questions or concerns you may have about your case. You can also submit a FREE online evaluation form through our website, to be reviewed by a member of our firm who will contact you personally about your legal options and next steps.

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    Lemon Law Auto Fraud serves the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.

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