Smog Check and Car Inspection in New Jersey
Motorists in New Jersey are required by the Motor Vehicle Commission to take their vehicles for an emissions inspection every two years (new cars can wait until they're four years old for their first inspection). Your car's safety features will also be tested at this time (turn signals, headlights, taillights, horn, windshield wipers, and tires), along with the suspension, steering, alignment, and brakes.
A few types of vehicles are exempt from inspections, such as those that run solely on electricity and certain diesel vehicles. For more information about green vehicle exemptions, visit our section on green driver incentives.
You have a choice whether to have your vehicle inspected at a State Inspection facility or at a private facility . Private facilities charge a fee for the service, but if you take your car to a state facility, the inspection is free.
If your car is registered in New Jersey, you must perform the emissions test in New Jersey.
The On-Board Diagnostic Test
The On-board Diagnostic (ODB) test reads a computer system in your vehicle to identify engine-related problems that may result in increased emissions of harmful pollutants. If you maintain your vehicle when you are alerted by your OBD system, you can help improve the state's air quality.
The OBD system monitors your vehicle at all times, even when it is not being tested. If it detects something that might cause your vehicle to emit excessive harmful pollutants, the "Check Engine" light will illuminate on your dashboard. This could indicate a simple problem, such as a faulty spark plug that should be replaced before it creates a more serious problem, such as a damaged catalytic converter.
What Can Cause a Test Failure
Here are a few problems that could cause your vehicle to fail the emissions inspection test:
- Your "Check Engine" light comes on and stays on while you drive.
- Your "Check Engine" light does not come on briefly when you first start up your engine.
- Your gas cap is loose, causing your "Check Engine" light to come on.
If you experience either of the first two problems, bring your vehicle to a certified Emissions Repair Facility to have it brought up to standard before it is inspected. Taking this precaution could save you the trouble of having your vehicle fail the OBD test and going through re-inspection.
If your car fails its emissions test, your state inspector will give you an Emissions Repair Form for your certified Emissions Repair Facility to fill out and a Vehicle Inspection Report to help your technician determine what caused the test failure. You should note that many private inspection facility are also certified Emissions Repair Facilities and might be able to perform both your repair and your reinspection.
In addition, remember to check to see whether the repairs are still covered by the manufacturer's warranty. Warranty repairs must be completed by an Emissions Repair Facility, which will have a certified technician on staff.
You may also perform the repairs yourself, but you must save (for your reinspection) the documentation for all equipment you replace and all parts you purchase.
Limitations on Required Repairs
If your vehicle fails the reinspection and you can provide receipts proving that you have spent a certain amount to reduce the vehicle's emissions, and that it passed an idle test, you could qualify for a waiver. To do this, you must take your vehicle to a Station Inspection facility , bringing your initial Vehicle Inspection Report and the new Vehicle Inspection Report given to you at the reinspection. You will also need to take your emissions-related repair receipts.
The waiver threshold includes the costs (parts and labor) to have the emissions-related problem repaired by a certified Emissions Repair Facility. Since certain air pollution equipment on your vehicle is required by federal law, repairing or replacing emissions system components that have been tampered with or are missing is not covered by the waiver.
Once repairs are completed, you must have your vehicle reinspected by a licensed inspector at a private or state inspection facility. Remember to bring all emissions-related receipts, your Emissions Repair Form, and the Vehicle Inspection Report with you.
Unfortunately, New Jersey does not offer extensions for reinspection.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
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- Salvaged Vehicles
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- Smog Check and Car Inspection