Save on Vehicle Registration, Driver License Renewal and (for California Residents) Smog Testing & Repair with DMV Online

Vehicle registration renewal time is not one of my favorite times of the year – especially every 2 years when we lucky residents of the great State of California must submit to smog tests (well, obviously not we, the people, but our dear vehicles). Not only is it a hassle, but an annoying expense – $50-60 for a test, or $30 if you’re very lucky and live in an area where you can get discounts (more on the below) – and not without a little stress and worry about failing and wondering if you can afford the repairs.

But the California DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) has done an admirable job in trying to make this painful process a little less so by providing relevant and helpful information on their website and letting you renew your vehicle registration and driver’s license online along with a variety of other helpful resources.

Reasons I love online DMV Renewals

  • No need to pay postage
  • No need to write a check
  • Option to pay by electronic bank withdrawal or Credit Card
  • There is no credit card processing charge (at least for California DMV, very rare for government sites) – so this is even better if you use a Cash Back or Rewards Credit Card that earns you money or points!
  • No need to assemble and mail smog and insurance documents
  • You receive your new license or registration quickly (I received mine in about a week) because it cuts down mail time by half
  • No risk of your renewal documents getting lost in the mail and having to pay a late fee

Other DMV Online Services

I didn’t even know about many of these until I visited the site today. I got these from the California DMV; services available may vary from state to state, but in general, I would think the most used services like address change, driver license and vehicle registration renewals at least should be available by now in all states.

  • Online change of address
  • Notice of transfer and liability
  • Order special interest and personalized plates
  • Schedule DMV appointments online for faster service if you need to go in person
  • Vehicle registration fee calculator
  • Mobile home registration
  • Link to voter registration
  • Link to pay traffic citations for your county

Smog Test & Repair Resources (for California residents)

The DMV also provides a website wth helpful resources for those who need to undergo smog test including:

  • Search for test and repair stations in your area including those that participate in financial assistance programs
  • Information regarding financial assistance should you fail the test and need to repair your car
  • Information about buying your car from you if your car cannot be or is not worth repairing

Discount Coupons for Saving on Smog Tests

Check out for discount coupons for stations in your area (may not be available everywhere). When we lived in L.A., we were able to find a coupon for a station near our apartment that reduced tlibhe cost of our smog test from $60 to around $25. Unfortunately, where we live now, there are no discounts, and the gas it would take to drive a participating station 40-50 miles away would negate any savings there.

So check there first to see if you can find a coupon for test and repair in your area before going. It could save you a good bit of money.

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