Smog & Emission Checks in New York
New York requires all registered vehicles to have two kinds of inspection each year: a safety inspection and an emissions inspection. These are performed simultaneously at privately owned inspection stations licensed by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
A vehicle dealer will have the car inspected before turning it over to you if you bought it from a dealership, but if you bought it privately you must have the vehicle inspected yourself within 10 days of registration.
A safety inspection costs $10 and an emissions inspection costs $27 (if you live in the New York metropolitan area) or $11 (if you reside outside this area). The $27 fee reflects the higher emissions standards around New York City that require a more comprehensive test.
It is illegal for an inspector to pass any vehicle without completing a full and proper inspection. If your car or truck fails an inspection, the inspection station is prohibited by law from performing any repairs without your approval.
Furthermore, you may take your vehicle to any other mechanic or inspection station for the repairs; you don't need to use the original inspection station for either the repairs or the retest. Your vehicle must pass both the emissions and safety inspections to be registered or for the registration to be renewed.
According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, "In many urban areas, motor vehicles are the single largest source of ground-level ozone, a major component of smog." In fact, the agency warns, "Automobile emissions alone account for about 60 percent of pollution in our cities."
Strict emissions standards are in place to reduce this pollution and comply with the Federal Clean Air Act, and annual vehicle inspections for gasoline-powered vehicles identify those that don't comply so that they may be repaired before becoming gross polluters.
Some vehicles are exempt from emissions inspections: vehicles one model year old or newer, vehicles at least 26 model years old, vehicles with vintage or historic plates, electric vehicles, motorcycles, farm equipment, homemade or custom vehicles in the upstate area, and diesel vehicles weighing 8,500 pounds or less.
New York recently implemented an updated vehicle inspection program. New equipment monitors the on-board diagnostic system of vehicles with a model year of 1996 and newer, transmitting the results to the DMV.
As part of this inspection, all vehicles will undergo a gas cap check, a visual inspection of the emission control devices, and a test of the chemical components of the vehicle's exhaust. This last test is more comprehensive in the New York metropolitan area, where it is referred to as the "high enhanced" emissions inspection. Outlying counties conduct the "low enhanced" emissions inspection. No matter where you live, the following emission-control devices will be examined if they were originally built into the car:
- Positive crankcase ventilation system
- Catalytic converter
- Fuel inlet restrictor
- Exhaust gas recirculation valve
- Thermostatic air cleaner
- Air injection system
- Evaporative emission control
What if Your Car Fails the Test?
Usually, it's required that your vehicle pass the mandatory tests to receive valid registration, but under certain circumstances, you may qualify for a waiver. Check out the details and eligibility for an inspection waiver on the DMV's information page (scroll down until you see "Inspection Waiver"). Also see our "Emission Test Waivers" section below.
The law requires you to keep your motor vehicle in safe operating condition. Annual safety inspections should alert you to any items that need to be addressed; should your vehicle fail a safety inspection, you must have the problem repaired and present the vehicle to any inspection station for a retest. The safety inspection will examine the following vehicle components:
- Seat belts
- Steering, front end, suspension, chassis, frame, wheel fasteners
- Windshield and other glass
- Windshield wipers and blades
The DMV provides more information about vehicle inspection, repair, and dealers as well as an informative brochure, New York State Vehicle Inspection Program for Cars and Light Trucks.
For details about what to do after you pass the tests, see Car Registration on this site.
You may apply for an emission test waiver if your vehicle:
- Fails an on-board diagnostic version two (OBDII) inspection, but aces the safety inspection and gas cap check, and the emission control devices exhibit no signs of tampering.
- Receives more than $450 of OBDII-related repairs but fails a follow-up emission exam.
After a failed reinspection, you will need to grab a waiver report from the inspection station that tested your vehicle. The waiver must be signed by you and an inspector. Once all signatures are in order, the inspector will retain the waiver form but issue you an inspection sticker, valid for one year.
Be sure to keep all OBDII-related repair receipts. Chances are strong you will be asked to provide documented proof of your repair claims.
If you relocate to New York and register your vehicle in New York, your out-of-state emissions certificate will not be challenged. It will be considered valid until it expires. Upon expiring, however, you will need to submit your vehicle to a New York inspection.
New York's DMV does not offer a specific phone number for reporting gross polluters. If you suspect a vehicle of blatantly violating the state's emission standards, you can try e-mailing the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation at email@example.com.Local Smog Check Stations
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Other Topics in This Section
- Register Car
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- 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
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- Smog & Emission Checks
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