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Q: Smog repait on 1999 Mazda Miata MX-5

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There's a program in CA for people (like me) to assist in smog repairs when they are on a low income. My CEL is on now, but isn't due for a smog in quite some time. My 1999 Miata with 61K miles is running fine, the code is for the front Catalytic Coverter ($$$ here in CA).
My question is can I get assistance before my smog due date? I'd like to get it taken care before, since it is polluting more than it should, now.
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Dear Tim.

I do Gold Shield Smog work in California and the program your are referring to is the Consumer Assistance Program or CAP Program. In most cases, you have to wait until your Registration is due for renewal. Also, your car usually has to be required to be tested at a Gold Shield Station or Test Only Station, which will be plainly stated on your DMV renewal notice.
Actually, anyone who is directed to a Test Only or Gold Shield Station can be eligible for CAP or consumer assistance if their vehicle fails a Smog Inspection, even if you are wealthy. If you are below a certain income level, you will have a lower deductible on top of being able to get help from the CAP Program.
NOTE: the CAP Program will pay up to $500 + plus either a $100 deductible ( total $600 ) or if you are low income a $20 deductible ( total $520 ). It does NOT cover all the expense of a repair. It assists you with the repair.

I have seen some folks Smog Inspect their car way before it is due and get some CAP assistance. But it is not guaranteed. If you are selling you car, then you can NOT get CAP assistance, the same is true if you are buying a car and it fails a Smog Inspection.
The warm up CAT on the 1.8 liter is a common failure, and I don't understand why Mazda or the EPA has not yet granted a lifetime warranty for this very common failure that is very expensive to repair. I just checked my Tech sources and in some cases the Dealer will warranty the CAT, so I would try that avenue first, unless you have and have struck out.
I hope that this helps. Also, be sure to go to a good Gold Shield Station to have the work done, you can ask the BAR for a list or go and look over find the info about the Gold Shield Stations in your area.

Best of Luck and ask more questions if needed.
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