By Julie Watts

(CBS 5) – When Stephanie Pincon’s 1997 Toyota Camry needed a smog check, she dropped it off at a neighborhood auto shop. But within a few hours, Pincon said she was told her car did not pass the smog check. “He said, your car is a gross polluter,” she said. “And I said, ‘what?’”

Pincon said she was shocked because her car is taken to the dealer every 5,000 miles.  Convinced that her car was not a gross polluter, she paid for a second smog test at another local auto shop. This time the smog check passed.

According to AAA, it’s not impossible for a car to fail a smog test one day and pass the next.

In fact, there are multiple factors that lead to varying smog test results. Mark Woods from AAA said the distance between your home and auto shop can determine whether a smog check passes. “Chances are the smog technician is doing everything right,” he said.

Woods also added other factors that can determine whether a smog test passes are mechanical components. “They may be sticky, parts may be worn out,” he said.

Related Links:
Better Business Bureau
State Bureau of Automotive Repair

But why did Pincon’s car fail the first smog test? In Pincon’s case, her car was warmed up before both tests and it’s still not clear why she failed the first. The Better Business Bureau investigated Pacific Smog and Auto Repair, but found no wrongdoing. The State Bureau of Automotive Repair is in the midst of an on-going investigation. In the end, Pincon finally received her tags from the DMV.

After CBS 5 ConsumerWatch spoke with Pacific Auto Repair, they agreed to refund Pincon her money. AAA did share a few tips. First, you should ask for your money back in a customer service concern. Next, to help avoid a false fail, warm up the car before taking it into the auto shop.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (2)
  1. jeff says:

    i have 2004 audi 2.7t. it has failed four times as a gross poluter. have taken it to my mechanic and saids threres no computer faults and should pass. not. this is first time for that car to be smogged and they dont know why and cant fix it as late. been pulled over three times and had to explain 2004 car wont pass smog. the numbers are off the charts the mechanic saids. what to do?