An unregistered car on the roads is sometimes OK

Q. I want to get my old car registered, but it needs a smog check. I’ve read from seemingly reputable sources that the smog test is invalid with a newly installed battery, and that one should wait until the vehicle has at least another 100 miles on it. If so, how can I legally put the 100 miles on with an unregistered car? Spending days (months?) driving back and forth a few feet in my driveway won’t do it! By the way, I have kept up on the registration fees as of fall, thinking that I’d be getting it smogged any time.

– Brian Valerie, Dana Point

A. Can you imagine your neighbors watching and wondering what the heck you are doing in the driveway, Brian?

Changing the battery likely wiped out the on-board computer’s memory. A common problem for those heading soon thereafter to a smog-check shop.

Without a valid memory, the vehicle can’t be smogged. Otherwise, an owner or mechanic could cleanse the memory and the device controlling the check-engine light to win a pass on a smog test when the vehicle should flunk.

Your car needs a history, and to get it, a spin longer than just around the block.

Years ago, the then-Honkmobile went on a successful steady, 80-mile jaunt over a fairly level stretch of the 5 Freeway as prescribed by his smog man’s assistant. An Automobile Club of Southern California expert once suggested to a Honk reader with a 2000 Pontiac Grand Am to cruise 50 miles “with the gas tank no more than three-fourth’s full and no less (than) one-fourth full.”

So go with the formula from your reputable sources or ask your mechanic. Or you could just drive normally and hope that does the deed.

Now, to keep you legal.

When the registration fees are paid and current and there is insurance on the ol’ car, you can ask the Department of Motor Vehicles at an office, or one of its partners such as the Automobile Club, for a free One-Day Vehicle Moving Permit, Kat Snow, a DMV spokesperson, told Honk.

There are various scenarios when this option will be approved.

Or if you want to get this stuff done at a more leisurely pace, ask for a Temporary Operating Permit. It can be had for up to 60 days for $50.

Heck, you can even try for a fee waiver for a TOP from the the California Bureau of Automotive Repair, part of the state government.

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Q. I am writing about the lane widening on Los Alisos Boulevard where it crosses over the 5 Freeway. There is NEVER any work going on there. The “work” has been going on for about four years at this point with no end in sight. Can you please tell me when this work is scheduled to be completed? I have noticed in the 22 years I have lived in California that it takes four or five times as long to build or alter anything here compared to Atlanta or Phoenix, both of which I used to live in. To me, it is just beyond crazy.

–  Marcus Leath, Lake Forest

A. The work on the bridge is part of the improvements to the 5 Freeway, from the 73 Toll Road to El Toro Road, that at this point are expected to cost $664 million. Among the changes: a new lane each way, which is why the bridge must be reconstructed.

The entire kit and caboodle is to be finished by early next year.

The bridge itself is to fully open in late summer, albeit no new lanes are coming but there will be bike lanes and larger sidewalks. For several months beyond that, some lanes might be closed at times to allow detail work.

The bridge certainly would have been finished quicker if just shut down instead of largely being kept open.

“The balance is to make these major improvements while at the same time having as little impact as possible on traffic flow,” OCTA spokesman Eric Carpenter told Honk in an email. “That’s why the project is done in two phases, so we close (half) down at a time and keep existing traffic flowing as much as possible while doing the construction work. …

“Most of the bridge work performed during daytime hours was staged from the freeway side to limit traffic disruption, then shifted to work on the bridge itself during nighttime hours when bridge-lane closures are less disruptive,” he said.

To ask Honk questions, reach him at He only answers those that are published. To see Honk online: Twitter: @OCRegisterHonk

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