Smog & Emission Checks in Idaho
It's happened to everyone. You are driving behind a car that is spewing a smokescreen of gray, pungent fumes, and as the exhaust chokes you, you say to yourself, "How did that car ever pass an emissions test?"
While it may seem like a hassle to keep your car running clean, the task of keeping your emissions in check is not only the friendly thing to do for your fellow drivers, it's the law. Well, not exactly for everyone.
When gasoline or diesel does not fully combust, it becomes what we know as vehicle emissions. But gas is not the only culprit that contributes to clouding our air. Emission controls, the design of your engine, and the improper care of your car can add to the problem. The result is a combination of pollutants such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, and dangerous organic compounds.
Particulate matter and ozone greatly affect those suffering from lung disease (such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema) and heart disease, those who have sensitive airways, the old and the young. Is that one car in front of you going to be the demise of our clean air? Probably not. But the combination of all our cars and their emissions, is a different story entirely.
Cars are to blame for 75 percent of the carbon monoxide and 65 percent of the hydrocarbon that pollutes our air. The scary part is that more than half of this pollutions comes from only 10 percent of the vehicles on the road. That's why it is so important to maintain your vehicle and make sure it is not one of the bad seeds.
Although we are far from a solution, we can do our part getting the emissions tested. So far, the emissions testing program has reduced pollution from vehicles by 18%.
Unfortunately, Northern Ada County is the only county in Idaho that requires the registered vehicles of its residents to go through an annual emissions test, regulated by the Ada County Air Quality Board. A number of locations within the county make it easy on you.
For more questions concerning this matter, contact the office of the Ada County Air Quality Board at (208) 377-9191 or check out its website at www.emissiontest.org.
While most vehicles in Northern Ada County are required to pass an emissions test, the law does not require that all vehicles be tested. For example, you do not have to have an emissions test, even in Ada County, if your vehicle:
- Is a model year 1964 or earlier
- Is powered by propane, electricity, or another fuel that is not gasoline or diesel fuel
- Is less than one year old and still owned by the first owner
- Has a maximum vehicle gross weight under 1,500 pounds
- Is classified as a motorhome on your registration
- Is classified as an Idaho Old Timer or a Classic Vehicle
Unfortunately, Idaho does not currently have a state-sponsored program for reporting smoking vehicles. Contact the Air Quality Board by e-mail or phone (208) 377-9191 for more information.
If you live in Northern Ada County but you are out of state or otherwise can't make it to a testing station before your emissions sticker expires, you'll need to check with your local county assessor motor vehicle office for advice. If you have your car in another state when your emissions sticker expires, you might want to double-check with that state's DMV to make sure you're in compliance with its air-quality laws.
Engine problems mean emissions problems. If you find yourself with a failed emissions test, you need to get your car fixed before you retest. Take your car to one of the following repair and retest stations to prevent making an extra trip to get tested. Once these shops make the repairs, they will test your vehicle:
- Oakley Moody: 1375 Grove St.; 343-4697
- Fairview Tune Tech: 9225 Fairview Ave.; 377-4220
- Rod's Repair: 106 West 43rd St.; 376-4700
- Brown's Auto Repair: 2900 South Cole Road; 562-1151
- Jeff's Volkswagen: 4422 Adams; 376-4686
- John's Auto Care Center: 499 South Meridian; 884-8064
- Meridian Auto Repair: 505 North Main; 888-3797
If you wish to take your car elsewhere, or if you can handle the repairs yourself, the state requires you to return to the original testing station to undergo a second test. Keep in mind, the second test is free if you return with your repaired vehicle within 30 days. If you need an extension, contact the Air Quality Board.
Hold onto all repair receipts that have to do with emissions-related work because you might eligible for a waiver if the costs exceed $200. Doling out a lot of cash to remedy the problem could qualify you to forgo passing this year's test, as long as you take care of the repairs within one year from the original due date.
- Even if your county does not require an emissions test, consider having one anyway to reduce pollution and get your car driving more miles per gallon.
- Consolidate the week's errands into fewer trips. This will save you time and money, as well as reduce the amount of emissions from your car if you narrow down the number of trips you take in your car.
- Spend hot summer days doing something other than refueling. During the heat of the day, ozone formation takes place. Therefore, refuel after 6 p.m. to keep smog-forming vapors out of the air.
- Listen for the first click of the gas pump when you are refueling, and stop pumping before you top off your tank. This will reduce the amount of smog-forming vapors emitted into the air.
- Tighten your gas cap until you hear it click, and you could be saving yourself from losing 30 gallons (due to evaporation) of gas per year and help keep our air a little more clean. In fact, 4,000 leaky caps alone create one ton of pollution.
- Turn off your engine if you know you'll be glued to the same spot for more than 30 seconds. Don't idle your vehicle unless you want to waste gas, pollute the air, and run the risk of damaging some engine parts.
For more information on the harm of emissions, how you can help reduce it, and how the government steps in to make a difference, visit the EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality.Local Smog Check Stations
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Other Topics in This Section
- Register Car
- Registration Renewal
- Registration & Insurance
- Replacing a Lost Registration
- RV & Motorhome Registration
- Custom Built Car Registration
- Boat Registration and Licenses
- Title Transfers
- Replacing a Lost Title
- Salvaged Vehicles
- Special Vehicles
- Drivers with Disabilities
- License Plates & Placards
- Smog & Emission Checks
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