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  • Smog & Emission Checks in Colorado

    Introduction

    In Colorado, vehicle inspections are conducted by the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Your inspection requirements vary based on where you live and what type of vehicle you drive.

    New to Colorado?

    Once you become a resident, you have 30 days to get a Colorado driver's license and 90 days to register your vehicle.

    You may need to get an emissions inspection before you can register your vehicle. Whether or not you need an emissions inspection depends on where you live or what type of vehicle you might have. All the requirements and exemptions are listed below.

    Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) Verification

    Any vehicle purchased in another state and being registered in Colorado must have a VIN verification performed. You can get a VIN verification done at all law enforcement offices, car dealerships, and certain automotive care and repair businesses. There will be fees charged for VIN verifications, and prices vary from place to place.

    Go to the Colorado State Patrol website to find your district and an office to visit for the VIN verification.

    About Colorado Emissions Inspections

    Emissions Inspections

    The Colorado Department of Revenue Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires residents of certain counties to get emissions inspections. However, the type of test differs depending on:

    • the model year of the vehicle.
    • the county you live in.

    For more information, please see "Exemptions & Requirements” below or call (303) 205-5603.

    VIN Inspections

    Every vehicle must also get a VIN inspection. Safety inspections are not required in Colorado, but emissions inspectors will check to make sure there are no serious safety issues affecting the test. You can fail the emissions test if it is deemed that your vehicle is unsafe to test.

    I/M 240 Emissions Test

    The I/M 240 emissions inspection tests the carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen being emitted from the vehicle over a period of four minutes.

    • The inspector does a visual inspection of emissions equipment.
    • The vehicle is tested under simulated driving conditions using a dynamometer (similar to a treadmill) to allow the wheels to spin and a large fan to simulate wind while measuring emissions from the tailpipe.
    • A gas cap seal test is performed after the simulated driving test is complete.
    • You will be given a vehicle inspection report with details about how the vehicle performed and whether it passed or failed.

    Two-Speed Idle Test

    The two-speed idle emissions inspection tests the carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons being emitted from the vehicle.

    • A probe in the tailpipe is used to measure emission pollutants.
    • The inspector lets the engine run at idle speeds for 30 seconds and readings are taken.
    • The engine is then sped up to 2500 RPM for 30 seconds and readings are taken.
    • The engine returns to idle speed for another 30 seconds and readings are taken.
    • You will be given a vehicle inspection report with details about how the vehicle performed and whether it passed or failed.

    Diesel Opacity Test

    Vehicles that run on diesel fuel will be given a diesel opacity test.

    • An opacity meter is used to measure how much the air pollutant obscures sight through the exhaust smoke.
    • You will be given a vehicle inspection report with details about how the vehicle performed and whether it passed or failed.

    Dynamometer Test

    All-wheel drive/traction control vehicles must be inspected using a dynamometer that examines the amount of force or torque the vehicle produces. The dynamometer will spin both front and rear wheels together. Each Air Care Colorado station has at least one of these dynamometers.

    Exemptions & Requirements

    Whether you are required to get a Colorado emissions test depends on where you live. If you either reside or work in the emissions testing area, your vehicle will need to be inspected. Some counties require testing throughout the entire county, while others only require it in parts of the county. For more information, please call (303) 205-5603.

    The following counties require emissions testing throughout the entire county:

    • Boulder County.
    • Broomfield County.
    • Denver County.
    • Jefferson County.

    Counties that only require emissions testing in certain parts of the county are:

    • Adams County.
    • Arapahoe County.
    • Larimer County.
    • Weld County.

    El Paso County requires ONLY diesel inspections and those are limited to certain parts of the county.

    There are maps available to see if you live or work in an emissions testing area. You may also contact your county Motor Vehicle office to see if your vehicle requires an emissions test for the partial-testing counties listed above:

    • Adams County: (720) 523-6010.
    • Arapahoe County: (303) 795-4500.
    • Larimer County: (970) 498-7878.
    • Weld County: (970) 353-3840.

    Vehicles Requiring Emissions Testing

    The type of test you receive, and how often you get it, depends upon the type and model year of your vehicle.

    • Passenger cars and light trucks:
      • Model year 1982 and newer: I/M 240 emissions test, performed every 2 years.
      • Model year 1981 and older: Two-speed idle test, performed annually.
    • Heavy duty vehicles (must weigh over 8,500 lbs. for model year 1979 and newer or 6,000 lbs. for model year 1978 and older): Two-speed idle test, performed annually.
      • NOTE: Testing must be completed at an I/M 240 testing station, even though you are getting an idle test.
    • Diesel vehicles:
      • Diesel opacity test performed annually, regardless of weight.
      • Large fleets of diesel vehicles (9 vehicles or more) are subject to self-inspection and certification.
      • Small fleets and individual diesel vehicles must be inspected at a diesel inspection station.
    • Collector vehicles (defined as vehicles 32 years old or older): Two-speed idle test, performed every 5 years.

    CO Emissions Testing Exemptions

    If you do not live within the inspection areas listed above, you are exempt from emissions testing.

    There are very few vehicle exemptions to the emissions testing program within the inspection areas. Exempt vehicles include:

    • Vehicles that are less than 4 years old.
    • Hybrid and electric vehicles.
    • Motorcycles.
    • Vehicles registered as a:
      • Horseless carriage.
      • Street rod.
      • Kit car.

    NOTE: While collector vehicles were previously exempt from emissions testing in the areas required, a law was passed into affect in August 2013 that now requires emissions inspections for vehicles registered as collector items. Please review the Collector Plate Regulations Change for more information.

    Colorado Emissions Inspection Fees

    The amount you will pay for your emissions inspection depends on the model year of your vehicle, and whether it is gasoline or diesel powered.

    • Gasoline vehicles model year 1982 and newer: $25.
    • Gasoline vehicles model year 1981 and older: $15.
    • Heavy duty trucks: $25.
    • Diesel vehicles: cost is determined by inspection station.
    • VIN verification: $20.

    Failed CO Emissions Tests & Waivers

    Your vehicle will fail the emissions inspection if:

    • It fails any one of the standards being tested for.
    • Any of your emissions equipment is not working properly.

    Your vehicle inspection report will explain what part of the test your vehicle failed. You will need to make repairs to your vehicle and get it retested, and pay any fees charged by the inspection center for the retest.

    Safety Inspection Failures

    Although there is no safety inspection required, the inspection station may fail your vehicle if it has inoperable parts, is unsafe to inspect, or has fluid issues. Some reasons a vehicle may be determined unsafe or inoperable are:

    • Alignment issues making it unstable on the dynamometer.
    • Dashboard lights warning of an equipment malfunction or low fluid levels.
    • Inoperable driver door.
    • Ineffective brakes.
    • An overheating engine.
    • Fluid leaks.
    • Transmission issues causing faulty shifting.

    This is not a complete list. Each inspection station will determine independently whether the vehicle is unfit to be inspected for any reason.

    Completing a Vehicle Inspection Retest

    If you had your vehicle tested at an Air Care Colorado testing center, you may be able to get a free retest if you repair your vehicle and return to any one of the Air Care Colorado testing centers within 10 calendar days. If the 10th day falls on a Sunday or holiday on which the testing center is closed, an extension to the 11th day will be granted.

    If you do not return within the 10 calendar days, you will be charged the normal fees.

    CO Emissions Inspection Waivers

    Repair Waiver

    If you have made repairs to your vehicle and still fail your emissions retest, you may be able to get an emissions waiver in order to register your vehicle. The waiver is good for one emissions testing cycle.

    To apply for a waiver, the repairs must have been made by a professional mechanic, and you must have spent up to or more than the amount required:

    • Gas vehicles model year 1968 and newer: $715.
    • Gas vehicles model year 1967 and older: $75.
    • Diesel vehicles under 14,000 lbs.: $750.
    • Diesel vehicles 14,001 lbs. or more: $1,500.

    If you believe you qualify for the repair waiver, you may contact the CO Division of Motor Vehicles at (303) 205-5603. Make sure to keep all receipts to prove the amount paid.

    Economic Hardship Waiver

    You may qualify for an economic hardship waiver if you are getting financial aid from an approved program, and your failed vehicle is your only method of transportation. There are no minimum repairs required to qualify.

    If you believe you qualify for the hardship waiver, call the Colorado DMV at (303) 205-5603.

    CO Emissions Inspection Stations

    All gasoline vehicles manufactured since 1982 are required to use the Air Care Colorado inspection stations, which are the official entities contracted by the state of Colorado. Use the interactive Air Care Colorado map to find stations and see what the wait times are at each station.

    Gasoline vehicles manufactured through 1981 can go to any of the Air Care Colorado inspection stations or use an approved independent testing station.

    Diesel vehicle testing centers can be found on this diesel test centers map.

    Out-of-State Emissions Testing in Colorado

    Colorado residents who are out of state at the time they are supposed to renew their registration can apply for an extension or get an emissions test from another state.

    Many states have their own emissions testing program. Out-of state-residents will need to get an emissions test from the state where they are currently staying.

    If the state you are in does not have emissions inspection requirements, you can apply for a temporary exemption. The exemption will allow you to renew your registration, but you will be required to pass an emissions test within 15 days of returning to Colorado.

    To complete your emissions inspection requirements or apply for a temporary exemption from out of state:

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