If you reside in a state, city, or county that requires a smog check, most likely you will need to provide proof of passing an emissions test before registering your vehicle.
This applies to first-time car registration and most registration renewals, contingent on how often your area requires an emissions test. In most cases this is every other year.
Smog Check Vehicle Registration Renewal
Keep in mind that smog check specifics vary by state, county, and city, but in general, this is how the system works.
Check Your Vehicle Registration Renewal Reminder
In most cases, your vehicle registration renewal form will indicate if an emissions inspection is required. Generally, this requirement is biennial (every two years).
Again, this might vary depending on your area. In Colorado, for example, vehicles 1981 and older must be tested yearly, while vehicles 1982 and newer only have to be tested every two years.
If you do not receive a registration renewal notice, contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office.
Failing an Emissions Test
If your vehicle fails the emissions test, you will need to get it repaired.
An emissions agent will provide a detailed report, explaining why the vehicle failed inspection. Keep this report. The repair station will need it while servicing your vehicle.
If your tabs expire while the vehicle is being repaired, contact your DMV for a temporary permit. This will allow you to legally drive the car for retesting. If the vehicle fails again, inquire about an exemption waiver.
Passing an Emissions Test
When your vehicle passes, the testing station, in most instances, will automatically notify the DMV, giving you the green light to register car. Confirm with inspection station employee handling your testing that the results will be sent to the DMV. Otherwise, if not, you’ll need to provide proof for the DMV.