Car Inspection in Illinois
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) governs the state's Vehicle Emissions Testing Program. The Program oversees vehicles requiring inspection, how to complete an emissions inspection, and what to do when a vehicle fails or is rejected.
New Illinois Residents
You must register your vehicle before bringing it in for an emissions test; however, don't have your vehicle tested until you receive your test notice. Your test notice will state when you must have your vehicle tested.
Inspection Requirements and Exemptions
Required emissions testing locations include the following counties*:
- St. Clair
*All zip codes in Cook, Dupage and Lake counties are required to have emission testing on their vehicles. Other counties have some zip codes excluded. As long as they're registered within the required Illinois emissions testing locations, the following vehicles must begin emissions testing after they are 4 model years old and undergo tests every 2 years:
- Most gasoline-powered passenger vehicles model year 1996 and newer.
- See “Inspection Exemptions" below for details on exempt gasoline-powered and other vehicles.
- Heavy-duty trucks model year 2007 and newer.
- Must weigh 8,501 lbs. to 14,000 lbs.
You will receive a test notice when it's time for your vehicle's emissions testing. You can also check your vehicle's status at the state's Title and Registration Status Inquiry.
Within the testable counties listed above, the following vehicles are exempt from emissions testing:
- Vehicles model year:
- 1967 or older.
- 1995 or older IF compliant with the Illinois Vehicle Emissions Inspection Law as of February 1, 2007.
- Diesel-powered vehicles.
- Electric vehicles.
- Motorcycles, including:
- Motor-driven cycles.
- Motorized pedal-cycles.
- Antique vehicles.
- Custom vehicles*.
- Street rods*.
- Farm and husbandry vehicles.
- Parade- and ceremonial-purpose vehicles operated on a not-for-profit basis by:
- Civic organizations.
- Fraternal organizations.
- Vehicles operated only for amateur or professional sports activities.
- Vehicles with a Junking Certificate.
- Government-owned war vehicles.
- Any vehicle registered in another state and compliant with that state's emissions laws.
* Learn more about the model year and age requirements of custom vehicles and street rods at the state's Exempt Vehicles FAQs.
Completing an IL Vehicle Inspection
The IL EPA provides a search list of Testing Stations by Type, allowing you to search for stations based on your vehicle and the type of emissions inspection you need.
Once you call ahead for hours of operation and any appointment requirements, simply bring your vehicle and test notice in for an inspection.
Illinois emissions test facilities enter your vehicle's results electronically. You'll also receive documentation about whether your vehicle passed, failed, or was rejected.
Failed Vehicle Inspections
If your vehicle fails its Illinois emissions check, you must have it repaired and retested; the IL EPA recommends choosing a Recognized Repair Technician for the best results.
When your vehicle fails, you'll receive the following documents. These documents help you and the repair technician determine how to move forward with repairs and retests:
- Vehicle Inspection Report and Certificate (sample).
- Required Vehicle Repair Data (sample).
- Repair Shop Report Card.
Your emissions inspector and repair technician will explain your specific results and steps to move forward.
IL Emissions Inspection Waivers
A full-service test station customer service representative can issue a waiver for your vehicle if each of the following is true:
- Your vehicle failed the initial test AND any retests.
- All repairs under any emissions control warranties have been conducted.
- The vehicle's emissions components appear present, connected, and operating.
- A Recognized Repair Technician made the repairs.
- You spent at least $450 in related repairs, AND you can present evidence of repairs in the form of either:
- Receipts that:
- Identify the vehicle.
- Explain the repairs made.
- List the repair costs.
- Are signed and dated.
- An affidavit from the technician who performed the emissions-related repairs.
- Receipts that:
Rejected Vehicle Inspections
“Rejection" doesn't mean “failure"; it simply means some factor is or is not present that prevents a proper emissions test.
- Your vehicle is exempt from testing.
- You brought in your vehicle too soon.
- You brought the wrong vehicle.
- You or your technician didn't properly complete any related repair forms.
- Your vehicle's OBD components aren't ready.
Your technician will explain why your vehicle is rejected and how to move forward with a proper inspection (if necessary). Learn more from the state's Rejected Vehicles FAQs.
NOTE: Rejection is not a valid reason for a waiver.
About the IL Emissions Testing Program
The Vehicle Emissions Testing Program uses On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) testing on most vehicles that are:
- Model year 1996 and newer; specifically:
- Passenger cars.
- Light-duty trucks.
- Sport-utility vehicles.
- Model year 2007 and newer heavy-duty vehicles weighing 8,501 lbs. to 14,000 lbs.
Some vehicles are subject to gas cap and visual exhaust tests. Your technician will explain if these tests are required and why.
OBD tests connect scan tools to on-board computers to check for:
- Readiness (OBD system status).
- The Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL) and whether it's set to illuminate.
- Stored diagnostic trouble codes.
Illinois Incentives for Eco-Friendly Driving
As mentioned above, you don't have to bring in your vehicle for emissions testing if it is a diesel-powered vehicle or one powered exclusively by electricity.
There are other eco-friendly driving perks, too. For more information on how you can save money on auto insurance, federal tax credits, and more, visit our page on green driver incentives.
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