Despite the threatened cutoff of $850 million federal aid, the California Senate has rejected a bill that would have put the legislature on record as promising to enact a vehicle inspection program next year.

The measure was defeated in the Senate Sunday a short time after the Assembly had approved it.

Proposal was a last attempt, hours before the end of the 1980 legislative session, to reach a compromise on a vehicle inspection program for the state.

The Environmental Protection Agency had said it would withdraw highways and sewer funds from California because the state has failed to require annual inspection of vehicle smog devices in five metropolitan areas.

"This legislature will never adopt a motor vehicle inspection program unless sanctions are imposed," Gray Davis, an aide to Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr., said. He added that he did not expect federal aid to be withdrawn until December.

Under the latest version of the bill, the legislature would have made a commitment to implement inspection programs in the state's five largest urban areas -- Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Fresno and San Diego -- as soon as possbile after Jan. 1, 1983.

The plan would also have limited the state Air Resources Board's authority to toughen new car emission standards and allow a limited number of new cars sold in California to meet more lenient federal emissions standards instead of state standards through 1984.