Smog & Emission Checks in New Mexico
Like most other Sun Belt cities, Albuquerque struggles with sprawl. With sprawl comes an entrenched car culture. And when 700,000 drivers take to the roads, pollution becomes a cause for concern.
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 1975 are subject to the test. Those oldies made between 1975 and 1986 need to undergo the test on an annual basis. If you own a car or truck built after 1986, then you can stick to an every-other-year cycle.
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 two-year registration rotation, you can get a four-year waiver. If you own a vehicle with a diesel engine, it is exempt from testing until you sell it.
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 megachains like Jiffy Lube. The cost for the services varies by business, but generally runs just around $20.
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. Then send the results to the Vehicle Pollution Management Division in New Mexico at the address below.
If everything checks out, you will be issued a two-year extension. For the results to be valid, the test needs to be taken and the paperwork mailed in within 90 days of one another.
The second option applies to those living in areas that do not have emissions testing. New Mexico will issue a one-time, one-year extension in this circumstance. But you will need to complete an Application for Time Extension, which consists of an Affidavit of Vehicle Unavailability and a form to have a vehicle identification number (VIN) inspection. You will need to have this form notarized.
If you are also renewing your registration, you must send all of your paperwork (renewal notice and proof of insurance) and fees to the Vehicle Pollution Management Division (address below), not the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD). The MVD does not handle these types of extensions and will only send the paperwork back to you.
The Vehicle Pollution Management Division will forward all of the paperwork you send to the MVD, and from there you will be issued new registration decals. If the address you have on file is your New Mexico address, but you want the decals sent to your out-of-state location, you will also need to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with all of the other paperwork.
If you are simply dealing with emissions testing and do not need to renew registration, you can fax the forms to (505) 764-1101. For those renewing a registration along with requesting an emissions extension, mail your information to:
- Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Vehicle Pollution Management
- 1500 Broadway Blvd. NE
- Albuquerque, NM 87102
There are few things worse than being behind a vehicle that is spewing so much black smoke that it looks more like a startled octopus than an automobile. Even if you inch off the gas and hang back, the exhaust still seeps into your car and tests your gag reflex.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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