Reading Time: 5 minutes
Perhaps, if you live in Mariposa County and use zip code 95329.
Starting in 2013 (at least for me) the California Department of Motor Vehicles, for some unknown reason, changed the previous registration process for my old Chevy Camaro by adding a $22 County District fee and requiring a smog certificate. This was a bit disconcerting since neither had been necessary since moving to, and residing in, Mariposa County.
My old “grey ghost” always passed when I lived in the valley but occasionally required an inexpensive part or minor adjustment. Still the examination was stressful. This was especially so after reading how much work on the vehicle could conceivably be required in order to pass the exam and receive new registration IF there was a problem.
Yup, a bit stressful – turning over the ignition key of my decades old dependable one owner one driver vehicle to a stranger and anxiously waiting outside for that semi-behind the scene emissions check.
Though technically outside the garage (premises liability issues) I could still see her being maneuvered and prepped for the test with wired sensors and monitors and was within easy earshot of all the traditional metal clanks and crashes of equipment and tools being moved about in an active automotive shop.
Pacing back and forth outside the examination garage listening to her high RPM sustained revving and wondering ….. will this be the year she fails? How expensive and/or extensive will the repairs be? Could I do some of the work myself or will repairs necessarily require sophisticated electronic testing equipment like that found in the emissions garage?
So many questions floating about the grey exhaust laden air churned out by a thirty something year old high revving engine. Geez, they sure did push sustained high engine revolutions per minute – (personally I don’t believe my baby liked that much without the roadway generated wind gushing through her grill and carburetor intake – lol) but she tolerated the unusual treatment and always qualified for another year’s registration albeit diminishing use.
Yup, after moving to Mariposa County I never missed those trips to an emissions garage or that apprehensive wait for results.
As most locals know, the 95329 Zip Code primarily applies to Stanislaus County, but also includes parts of Tuolumne County and Mariposa County. I’ve heard parts of Merced County are also included but it is difficult to tell from the below posted zip code information site map.
ZIP CODE 95329 INFORMATION
Evidently in 2013 the DMV somehow changed the Mariposa County designation for zip 95329 to Stanislaus County resulting in the generation of the smog test requirement and the $22 COUNTY/DISTRICT FEES. [Curr Air ALT $18.00, CUR SJ VAPCD $1.00 and ALT FUEL RF $3.00]
You see, a smog test is only required in Mariposa County for change in vehicle ownership paperwork.
NO BIGGIE – A SIMPLE TELEPHONE CALL SHOULD SUFFICE
After a few telephone calls to the DMV and explaining the situation I was ultimately connected with an individual who had the proper “supervisory authority” to make such processing corrections. PRESTO! I was able to finish the renewal without a smog check or paying the extra $22.
2014 – registration went fine.
Unfortunately in 2015 the issue reared its ugly head again (bi-annual testing) with both the smog certificate and district fee required for registration renewal. Once again telephone contact and explanation resolved the issue and renewal was processed without the smog test. Since I had paid the additional $22 with online registration in 2015 the DMV also refunded the $22.
But again in 2016 the smog test and $22 fee was requested. Again I made some telephone calls and explained the situation. This time I wrote a letter with all the information and sent it with my payment. Again I was advised it was corrected and the registration was subsequently issued.
GUESS WHAT HAPPENED THIS YEAR?
Yup, SMOG TEST and an extra $22 requested before registration would be renewed. After explaining the situation again, I wrote a short note and mailed the registration back with a check for the correct amount.
A few days ago I received correspondence from DMV confirming the registration payment had been received but they still wanted a smog check and that other $22!
SLIGHTLY PISSED THAT 4 out of 5 YEARS WERE WRONG
I was a bit pissed at first because in addition to the traditional request for a smog test and an extra $22, the note stated the following: (IN ALL CAPS TOO!)
“ACCORDING TO DMV MANUAL MARIPOSA COUNTY IS NOT SMOG EXEMPT AREA. PLEASE PROVIDE COUNTY DOCUMENTS TO PROOF SMOG EXEMPT”
Surely they meant “prove” smog exempt, but that is beside the point. Why should I be required to provide further COUNTY INFORMATION in support of my argument which was clearly detailed on the DMV WEBSITE already?
COUNTIES REQUIRING SMOG TEST
Did a person or computer generate that letter?
HOW CAN YOU BE UPSET WITH FOLKS TRYING TO HELP?
I would like to note for the record that during this entire process (2013-2017) the DMV employees I have spoken with have always been helpful, polite and seemed genuinely concerned with correcting the matter. There have been a number of humorous points and laughs on both sides.
Actually, after all this time back and forth with this issue I was beginning to hone some comical observations, speculations and suggestions to emphasize the fact I was not upset with any DMV employee per se, but rather their evil computer system overlord which quite obviously rejects such error correction due to an inherent operational bias and extreme dislike for residents in the PEOPLES’ REPUBLIC OF LAKE DON PEDRO 95329.
I advised I had downloaded the DMV (INV19) PDF Fraud Complaint Form for the Investigations Division Office of Internal Affairs and was considering substituting “system error” for “Employee’s name” to see if that might correct the problem.
BUT THE REAL JOKE WAS ON ME
The other day, while speaking with a DMV employee on the telephone and theorizing that if there were many more folks who were experiencing the same “location difficulty” but did not realize it, they too were paying $22 more than necessary in combination with the additional time, money and inconvenience of an unnecessary vehicle emissions smog check.
(I know a few people who have wrongfully paid these additional fees and jumped through “smog testing “ hoops.)
I told him many folks just pay the bill amount requested without any thought to there being a possible mistake if there was no hint of something being wrong – like with me and the requirement my Ghost Camaro be revved into a dismantler’s bone yard due to another smog check. lol
I continued by saying these unnecessary charges could add up to a fairly substantial amount of money – especially figuring 400+ residents and there likely being more than one vehicle per household——-
THEN IT HIT ME…….
HIT ME LIKE ……..
A TON OF RUSTY OLD ROTTEN EGG SMELLING CATALYTIC CONVERTERS……
……what about my pickup?
Although never receiving a smog test request….was I also paying an extra $22 in County District fees?
NO HINT – PAID WITHOUT THOUGHT!
YUP! Without the SMOG TEST REQUIREMENT alerting me that something was wrong I had always just paid the requested amount for my Chevy pickup without thought to “COUSIN CAMARO’s” victimization by the evil DMV electronic overlord.
RIGHT PERSON FOR THE RIGHT JOB
Evidently those DMV employees who had assisted me in the past did what they could to immediately correct the problem and process the renewal. Unfortunately, such corrections were apparently only exemptions for that specific year and did not delve into the incorrect county listing responsible for generating future renewal notices (the 2013 unknown change).
I have been assured the problem has been remedied and I will be able to use the online registration process for my Ghost Camaro next time. We shall see.
AN EXTRA DMV BONUS FORM TO ARRIVE
So this year in addition to receiving my traditional registration renewal for a vehicle that rarely moves, I will also get a refund form so I can claim 3 years of over payments on the pickup. (Not four due to the month of expiration for the tags.)
What can I say? $66 is $66. Heck that will pay last month’s water bill! (Speaking of water, maybe I should wash, vacuum, charge the battery, and see if the old girl still starts? CRAP! It’s got valid registration! lol)
My best to you and yours, Lew
PS: And just to keep the record straight, my Ghost always received good clean fuel and never had that “rotten egg” converter smell. The above was just an expression….
(she is so sensitive about that issue – lol)