Smog & Emission Checks in DelawarePage Overview
The Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires vehicles registered in the state to undergo regular safety inspections and emissions testing. DE vehicle inspections consist of two parts, which will be done at the same time when you appear:
- The vehicle safety inspection ensures that your vehicle is not a danger to yourself and other drivers on the road (see “Safety Inspections” below).
- The vehicle smog check and emissions test ensures that your vehicle’s exhaust system works effectively (see “Emissions Testing” below).
The purpose of the DMV safety inspection is to ensure that your vehicle operates in a safe and mechanically sound manner. The following is a list of some of the key things to be inspected on your vehicle:
- Vehicle lights (turn signals, plate/brake lights, headlights, etc.) must be working and can be clearly seen.
- Brakes must effectively stop your vehicle within a certain distance.
- Rearview mirrors must be unbroken and clean.
- Windshield wipers must be in good working condition.
- Trunk and/or hood must be able to be fully closed and latched.
- Tires must be in good condition with no bulges, bald spots, cuts, or fabric showing. Additionally, in two adjacent treads, the tread depth needs to be no less than 2/32 of an inch.
- Door handles must be in working condition.
- There cannot be any dislocated or damaged parts sticking out from the vehicle that cause a safety hazard.
- The vehicle’s horn must work.
- Vehicle cannot have gasoline leaks.
- The exhaust system must not leak, and your muffler must effectively reduce exhaust noise.
- If your vehicle was originally equipped with a catalytic converter by the manufacturer, it must still be installed.
- The bumper height of passenger vehicles cannot be higher than 22 inches from the ground.
- Neither the front windshield nor the front side windows can have tinting or a sun-screening device.
- The minimum height for windshield visibility must be 10 inches.
- No windows can have cracks over 5 inches long or holes. If there are cracks in the windshield, they cannot interfere with vision.
- If the hood has air scoops, they cannot exceed 3 inches in height.
- An RPM (revolutions per minute) sensor will be placed on your hood by a technician.
- The technician will ask that you accelerate the speed of your engine to 2,500 RPM.
- The computer monitor next to the driver side door will indicate once you have reached the desired speed.
- With the key in the ignition but the vehicle off, the technician will make sure that your check-engine light (also known as the MIL) is working properly.
- Next, the technician will connect a diagnostic cable to your OBD II system to determine the status and readiness.
- New Castle County.
- Kent County.
- Vehicles manufactured since 1975.
- Gas vehicles with a gross weight of less than 8,500 pounds.
- Vehicles registered in New Castle County or Kent County.
Once you’re done, you will be given a vehicle inspection report (VIR) that indicates the results of your test.
The purpose of the smog and emissions test is to ensure that the levels of hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide emitted by your vehicle’s exhaust system do not exceed state standards.
Vehicle Age and Emissions Testing
The type of emissions test you must undergo depends on the age of your vehicle:
Model Year 1968―1980:
Vehicles manufactured between the years 1968 and 1980 will undergo an Idle Emissions tail pipe test. A technician will insert a probe into your vehicle’s tail pipe as the engine idles to determine the amount of exhaust coming from your vehicle.
The test itself takes about 1 minute with the vehicle in park or neutral, or as directed by the technician.
Model Year 1981―1995:
Vehicles manufactured between 1981 and 1995 undergo a Low/High Speed tail pipe test, which involves completing the Idle Emissions test (see above) and another test with your engine revving at a higher speed.
The test takes about 2.5 minutes.
Model Year 1996―Five-Year-Old Vehicle
Vehicles manufactured since 1996 that are at least five years old must undergo an On-Board Diagnostic Test (OBD II). This tests your vehicle’s computer system for monitoring the exhaust system.
The OBD II involves the following:
The OBD II test takes about 2 minutes.
Diesel powered vehicles that were manufactured during or after 1997, with a gross weight of less than 8,500 pounds, must undergo an OBD II test if they are registered in:
The DMV pressure test is used to determine if fuel vapors leak from your fuel system. Vehicles that must take the pressure test are:
You must pass a Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) emissions test and safety inspection if:
- You want to register your car for the first time in the state (must be completed within 60 days of establishing residency.
- You need to renew your registration (may be completed up to 90 days before your registration expires).
- You are ordered to submit your vehicle for inspection by law enforcement (must be completed within 5 days or risk having your registration suspended).
DE Inspection Exemptions
You do not have to complete a safety or emissions inspection if the vehicle meets all of the requirements below:
- Was manufactured within the last five model years.
- Weighs less than 10,000 lbs.
- Is being titled in Delaware for the first time.
Even if your vehicle meets these requirements, you can be ordered by law enforcement to submit your vehicle for a safety inspection if it’s deemed necessary.
If your vehicle meets these requirements, then you will only need to get a vehicle identification number (VIN) verification when you register your car.
The following vehicles must complete a safety inspection, but are not required to undergo an emissions test:
- Vehicles with a model year of 1968 or older.
- Diesel fueled vehicles with a model year of 1997 or older.
- Vehicles manufactured in the last five years.
To complete your vehicle inspection, you must appear at a Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) testing facility (see below) and be ready to present:
- Your out-of-state title or registration card (if registering for the first time in Delaware).
- Your current DE registration card (if renewing your registration).
- Your proof of insurance.
- Your vehicle’s odometer reading.
Vehicle inspection may be done at any of the Delaware DMV’s four testing facilities:
New Castle County:
- New Castle Division of Motor Vehicles
- Airport and Churchmans Road
- New Castle, Delaware 19720
- (302) 326-5000
- Greater Wilmington Division of Motor Vehicles
- 2230 Hessler Boulevard
- New Castle, Delaware 19720
- (302) 434-3200
- Dover Division of Motor Vehicles
- 303 Transportation Circle
- P.O. Box 698
- Dover, DE 19903
- (302) 744-2500
- Georgetown Division of Motor Vehicles
- 23737 DuPont Blvd.
- Georgetown, Delaware 19947
- (302) 853-1000
All locations have the same hours of operation:
Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Friday
8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
If you are not in Delaware at the time of your vehicle inspection deadline, or your vehicle is out of state, you may apply for an Out-of-State Inspection Packet to complete the inspection requirements. You and/or your vehicle must be more than 250 miles from a DE DMV inspection station to be sent a packet.
If your vehicle is more than 250 miles from a DE DMV inspection station, and you will not be able to return it to the state before your registration expires, then you must contact the DMV to request an Out-of-State Inspection Packet.
The Out-of-State Inspection Packet contains completion requirements for both the safety and emissions inspections, including the Application for Out-of-State Inspection of a Delaware Registered Vehicle (Form MV210).
- Take the packet and your vehicle to a local dealership or mechanic.
- The person evaluating your vehicle must validate that it meets the requirements outlined in the packet.
- Make a copy of your current DE driver’s license and proof of insurance.
- Include payment for your registration renewal fees.
- Include a self-addressed envelope with your current out-of-state address.
- Send everything to:
- Division of Motor Vehicles
- Vehicle Help Desk
- P.O. Box 698
- Dover, DE 19903
If you are out of state when you need to complete a DE DMV vehicle inspection but your vehicle is in state, a friend or family member may take the vehicle to be inspected for you.
They will need:
- Your vehicle’s current DE vehicle registration card.
- Proof that your vehicle is insured.
There is no charge for the vehicle inspection or for having your vehicle retested.
You will have to pay a $10 late fee plus your standard renewal fees if you fail to complete your inspection before your vehicle’s registration renewal deadline.
If your vehicle fails the safety or emissions testing for any reason, you will need to get repairs done to your vehicle and have it retested. You will receive your inspection sticker once the problems are fixed and the vehicle passes the tests.
Safety Inspection Failure
The Delaware DMV does not provide any waivers for failing the safety inspection. If your vehicle fails the safety test, you will not be able to register it or renew its registration until you fix whatever issues resulted in failure (e.g. new windshield, tires, brake lights, etc.).
The report given to you at the end of the inspection will indicate what you need to have corrected. You will have to reappear at a DMV testing station after fixing the problems.
Emissions Testing Failure
If you fail an emissions test and your registration is about to expire, you may be eligible to apply for a temporary registration tag from the DE DMV while your car is repaired (see below). A temporary tag costs $10.
Common reasons for failing an emissions test are:
- Dirty air filter.
- Defective catalytic converter.
- Defective ignition.
- Defective spark plug(s) or spark plug wire.
- Improper ignition timing.
- Leaky vacuum.
Your vehicle inspection report will list the reasons your vehicle failed, and you will not be allowed to register or renew your vehicle until you make the necessary repairs and successfully pass a retest.
If you need to complete repairs on your vehicle but your registration is about to expire, you may be able to apply for a 30-day temporary tag from the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This will allow you to continue to drive while you get your vehicle repaired and retested.
Temporary tags will not be issued for vehicles classified as smoking excessively or as safety hazards. The decision to issue a temporary tag is entirely up to the DMV.
To apply, you must:
- Go to your local DE DMV.
- Present your vehicle inspection report.
- Present your vehicle registration card or title.
- Present your driver’s license.
- Pay a $10 fee.
Delaware Emissions Waiver
If you have failed to pass the emissions test, you may be able to get an emissions waiver.
To be eligible, you must meet ALL of the following requirements:
- Your vehicle has failed the exhaust (tail pipe) emissions test two or more times.
- Your engine parameters meet the specifications set by the manufacturer.
- The cost of your repairs meets the required amount:
―$75 for vehicle models 1968―1980.
―$810 for vehicle models 1981 and newer in Kent or Newcastle County.
―$200 for vehicle models 1981 and newer in Sussex County.
- Your vehicle has all emissions control equipment.
- Visible smoke was not the reason for your vehicle's failure.
- You are able to provide all repair receipts and your vehicle inspection report.
- The vehicle did not have a fuel systems failure.
- There is no safety failure.
DE Vehicle Inspection Retesting
Once you have completed the necessary repairs on your vehicle and you’re ready to have it retested―be it for safety, emissions, or both―you must return to a DMV inspection facility and be ready to present:
- Your inspection report.
- Receipts for the repairs you had done.
- A Vehicle Emissions Repair Report Form―required for residents of New Castle County and Kent County.
There is no charge for having to retake the test, and if your vehicle fails the emissions test again, you may be eligible to apply for a waiver (see “Emissions Waiver” section).
Other Topics in This Section
- Your engine should be warmed up before the inspection.
- Be sure to turn off your vehicle’s radio, air conditioner, heater, and other accessories.
- Fast idle your engine for 30 seconds before going into the inspection facility.
- All occupants must wear their seat belts or proper restraints (e.g. child safety seat) at all times.
- Make sure you know where your hood’s release latch is located.
- If you have a fuel cap that locks, then make sure you have the key.
- Have obvious defects, such as headlights, brake lights, turn signals, windshield wipers, etc., repaired if necessary before appearing for inspection.
- Make sure that your tires and brakes are in good working condition. The DMV notes that technicians inspect these two items particularly closely for safety reasons.
- Do not hesitate to ask the DMV technicians any question.
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