Smog & Emission Checks in Maryland
Maryland is exceptionally conscious when it comes to pollution. It doesn't matter whether it is air or light pollution, non-point pollution or water waste, the state generally has an innovative system in place to combat the problems.
It is especially true when it comes to the crud that shoots out of your vehicle's exhaust pipe. Thus, if you are living in Maryland and own and operate a vehicle, you will surely hear of the Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program (VEIP).
The program is a combined effort of the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) and the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) to clean up the air. So far, the plan seems to be working (25 tons of nasty stuff kept out of the air each year).
Essentially, the program requires you to bring your vehicle in for an emissions test every two years. The state takes it seriously and wants you to follow suit. Just think of all the various types of pollution spewed into the air from the major traffic jams around Baltimore and Washington, D.C., alone.
All that engine idling can do some serious damage to the air. Thus, you can do your part to keep Maryland's air clean by making sure your vehicle's emission control system is up to par.
The year of your vehicle determines what sort of testing it will undergo. Vehicles from the current two model years are exempt from the first round of testing. There are four varieties of analysis:
On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) Test
- For vehicles of model year 1996 and up and weighing under 8,500 pounds.
- What it does: Skips the tailpipe and exhaust completely and instead links into the vehicle's computer system (if it has one), searching for any sort of inconsistencies relating to the engine. If the Check Engine light blinks on at this point, things may not look so good for passing the test.
IM240 Dynamometer (a.k.a. the Treadmill) Test
- For vehicles of model years 1984 to 1995 and weighing under 8,500 pounds.
- What it does: Vehicle is set on rollers to simulate real driving while accumulating and sampling the exhaust in various situations.
- For vehicles of model years 1977 to 1983 and large trucks weighing up to 26,000 pounds.
- What it does: Emissions are pondered via computer while the vehicle sits idling.
Gas Cap Pressure and Leak Check
- For all vehicles.
- What it does: Makes sure that the cap is functioning properly and seals like it should.
A renewal notice will be sent out about eight weeks prior to your vehicle's emission test deadline date.
At the ground level you will be dealing with Environmental Systems Products of Maryland (ESP). This is who runs the testing centers peppered throughout the state. Note that not every county has a station, so you may have to drive a bit.
If you pass the initial visual inspection (meaning your car does not show up smoking) and then ace the emissions portion of the program, you will be issued a certificate. This will not only let you know when your next test will be, but it will also aid you in registering the vehicle.
The testing fee is $14.
If your car is deemed to be clogging up the air with an unhealthy amount of carbon-related materials, then you will not be issued an emissions certificate. Instead you will be meeting with an onsite representative before you can leave the station. The agent will instruct you on what went wrong and what you need to do to correct the problem.
Repairs must be completed within 120 days. At this time the vehicle will have to endure the test once again, mostly like sending you into a nail-biting session. At least the first retest is at no charge.
If for some reason your vehicle still cannot pass and repairs have been completed, a two-year repair waiver might be available to you. After that, it might be time to consider a new vehicle.
There are numerous reasons why you may not be able to make it to a testing station before the date posted on your reminder note. In this instance you can plead for an extension online or by calling (800) 638-8347. VIEP is pretty lenient on this and will work with you. Generally, it takes a couple of days to issue the new deadline, which will be sent via mail.
If you are one of the environmentally hip and have joined the hybrid craze, you may be exempt from emissions testing until 2012. See if your vehicle meets the requirements. Be aware, though, that due to recent testing changes made by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2009 model year hybrid vehicles won't qualify for the exemption.
To report a smoking vehicle in Maryland, call (866) 677-2833.Other Programs Helping to Reduce Emissions
Local Smog Check Stations
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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