Car Inspection in New Mexico
Like most other Sun Belt cities, Albuquerque struggles with sprawl. With sprawl comes an entrenched car culture.
That is why the city instituted an emissions program. It is the only neck of the woods in the state that requires any sort of smog testing. Thus, anyone living in the greater metropolitan area will need to have their vehicle checked (or get an exemption) before registering it. This also applies to commuters driving into the city for work more than 60 days in a year.
All vehicles manufactured after the year 1980 are subject to the test.
Even better, cars fresh off the assembly line (or close to it) are eligible to skip emissions tests for up to two registration periods. Thus, if you opt for the registration lasting 2 years, you may be eligible for a waiver. If you own a vehicle with a diesel engine, it is exempt from testing until you sell it. The New Mexico MVD website provides a full list of exempt vehicles, and you can visit our section on green driver incentives for more information about exempt vehicles and other perks to eco-friendly driving.
What is Tested
The actual test assesses three elements on the vehicle:
- Smoke puffing from the tailpipe or other areas of the auto.
- The effectiveness of the catalytic converter, which is the essential module in controlling pollution.
- A computerized gas analysis measured via the exhaust pipe while the vehicle is idling and at high speed.
Where to Get Tested and What to Pay
There are more than 100 locations spread out across the metro area; these range from mom-and-pops to mega-chains like Jiffy Lube. The cost for the services varies by business.
Pretty much the only time you can request a time extension for emissions testing is if the vehicle in question is out of state. This is usually the case with New Mexico residents who are students in another state, or those in the military who are stationed elsewhere. If you are in this situation and need to renew your registration, you have a couple of options.
The first is having an emissions test administered where you are currently located―if you're in an area that conducts its own emissions testing.
The second option applies to those living in areas that do not have emissions testing. New Mexico will issue an extension in this circumstance.Local Smog Check Stations
Other Topics in This Section
Organ Donation Survey
- 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
- Car Inspection
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