Car Inspection in North CarolinaPage Overview
North Carolina Vehicle Emissions & Safety Inspections
Clean air makes North Carolina a more pleasant place to live. When our air is clean, we breathe better, feel better, and remain healthier. That's why North Carolina complies with the federal Clean Air Act by requiring emissions inspections in highly populated areas.
When you register your newer gasoline-powered vehicles in an emissions county, your vehicle will have to pass an on-board diagnostics emissions test. This is in addition to the safety inspection that your vehicle must also pass.
Before you renew your vehicle's registration, the vehicle will also need to pass a vehicle emissions and safety inspection.
To locate an inspection station in your area, please visit the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website.
If your vehicle is at least 35 years old, it doesn't have to undergo safety or emission inspections.
If your vehicle's model year is previous to 1996, your vehicle doesn't have to undergo emission inspections. However, unless your vehicle is also at least 35 years old, it WILL have to face the safety inspections.
If you drive an electric vehicle, your vehicle is exempt from the on-board diagnostics (OBD) test, but it must still undergo the safety inspection.
Learn more about eco-friendly perks over at our section on green driver incentives.
Additionally, diesel-powered and farm vehicles are exempt from emissions testing.
Rather than offering one centralized system, certain NC gas stations and repair shops are licensed by the state to provide these inspections. To locate a provider, you can look in your local phone book, on the web, or drive by repair shops to see if they display a sign stating that they are licensed to provide emissions inspections.
Current year models are exempt from emissions inspections, as are registered motor homes.
Fees vary by county and by repair shop. Find a current schedule of fees on the NC DMV website.
If you live in an emissions county and you are out of state when your sticker expires, you'll need to have it inspected after you return to North Carolina.
Under certain circumstances, you may be eligible for a waiver of your emissions requirements. For example, if you need a certain part that is no longer available, and you can demonstrate to the Bureau of License and Theft that you have made a good-faith effort to get the part, the bureau might give you a waiver. However, if the DMV locates the part, you must comply with the requirements.
If your vehicle still fails the emissions inspection after you have made necessary repairs, you could be eligible for a waiver, but you must have spent a minimum amount of money for parts and labor in order to qualify.
If you notice a vehicle spewing a steady flow of dark exhaust smoke, note the license plate number. With it, you can report the vehicle as a gross polluter using the North Carolina Division of Air Quality's online Smoking Vehicle Complaint Form.Local Smog Check Stations
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