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    SUMMARY: Ohio E-Check Emissions Inspections

    Ohio requires eligible vehicles in qualifying counties to undergo emissions testing prior to vehicle registration and then again every 2 years. Some vehicles are eligible for testing exemptions, waivers, and extensions. In addition to emissions inspections, new residents must bring in their vehicles for vehicle identification number (VIN) inspections.

    The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) work together to govern the state’s E-Check emissions inspection program. Learn about required emissions tests below.

    New Ohio Residents

    If you’ve moved to an Ohio county that requires emissions inspections, there are a few different options:

    • You can visit the BMV first and obtain a VIN inspection before completing your emissions check at an E-Check station.
    • You may purchase a voucher at a testing station in order to complete your registration without an inspection first.
      • You will be reimbursed for the $18 fee once you’ve completed your emissions test.
    • You can get your new Ohio driver’s license first with your updated address.
      • Take your new license along with your vehicle and current registration to get your car inspected; you will then be able to complete your registration at the BMV.

    For complete details of each option, visit the BMV’s new resident inspection guide.

    Inspection Requirements & Exemptions

    Inspection Requirements

    Eligible vehicles registered in the following qualifying 7 counties must undergo emissions testing every 2 years:

    • Cuyahoga.
    • Geauga.
    • Lake.
    • Lorain.
    • Medina.
    • Portage.
    • Summit.

    Eligible vehicles include all gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles (including hybrid and flexible fuel vehicles) that are:

    • 10,000 lbs. or less.
    • 25 years old or newer during the testing year.
      • New vehicles up to 4 years old are exempt; please see “Inspection Exemptions” below.

    Vehicles with even-numbered model years must undergo emissions testing every even-numbered year; vehicles with odd-numbered model years must undergo emissions testing every odd-numbered year.

    Inspection Exemptions

    Ohio vehicles located outside of the counties listed above are not required to undergo emissions inspections upon registration and renewal.

    Within the counties listed above, vehicles that are 4 years old and newer are exempt from testing as well.

    Additionally, the EPA offers the following exemption types:

    • Temporary exemptions.
    • Permanent exemptions.
    • Vehicles permanently exempt.
    • Exemptions for vehicles permanently out of state.

    Continue reading for more information about these types of OH emissions test exemptions.

    Temporary Exemptions

    A temporary emissions check exemption is offered to the following drivers:

    • Military members stationed outside of Ohio and their dependents.
    • Students attending out-of-state schools located in non-inspection areas.
    • Surviving spouses due to the death of the vehicle owner.

    The EPA provides details for each exemption on its exemptions page.

    Permanent Exemptions

    For a vehicle to be eligible for permanent exemption, it must undergo 1 visual inspection by the Ohio EPA Mobile Sources field staff.

    After the visual inspection, the following vehicles are considered permanent exemptions:

    • Electric-powered vehicles.
    • Alternative fuel vehicles powered by:
      • Propane.
      • Natural gas.
      • Butane.
      • Alcohol.
    • Non-commercial vehicles that weigh over 10,000 lbs.

    Permanently Exempt

    The vehicles below are permanently exempt from emissions tests and do not require visual inspections:

    • Vehicles over 25 years old.
    • Commercial vehicles that weigh over 10,000 lbs.
    • Motorcycles.
    • Recreational vehicles.
    • Motor homes.
    • Historical and collector vehicles.
    • Parade and exhibition vehicles.

    If you are the owner of one of these vehicle types, contact your local BMV for information on your registration process. You will not need to submit an exemption certificate.

    Vehicles Permanently Out of State

    If your vehicle is registered in a qualifying emissions check county, but it is and will be permanently kept outside of Ohio in an area without emissions testing, you can qualify for an exemption as well.

    Submit to the BMV:

    NOTES:

    1. This scenario does NOT qualify you for a permanent exemption, or permanently exempt status. Your vehicle will be treated as a non-permanent exemption.
    2. If your vehicle is permanently located in an area WITH emissions testing protocols, you will need to have it inspected there. See “Out-of-State Vehicle Inspections” below.

    Completing an OH Vehicle Inspection

    To complete your required emissions inspection in Ohio, use the state’s E-Check Locations tool to search for Ohio emissions check locations* in your area. If they’re not listed, be sure to call ahead for Ohio E-Check hours of operation.

    Bring your vehicle to your closest location with:

    • Your vehicle title or registration.
    • Any applicable fee.
      • You get 3 tests for free within 1 year, ONLY if your vehicle doesn’t pass its first test; after the third failed test, each subsequent check is $18.

    Once your vehicle passes, you’ll receive a Vehicle Inspection Report to use for registration or registration renewal. Your emissions inspection is good for 1 year.

    Refer to Failed Vehicle Inspections below for information if your vehicle fails.

    * Alternatively, you can bring your vehicle to a self-service kiosk. Learn more about these Ohio E-Check locations at the state’s kiosk search page.

    Out-of-State Vehicle Inspections

    Any vehicle registered in a qualifying county but currently located out of state still must undergo emissions testing if the vehicle is located in another state with an emissions testing program* (i.e. students out of state, residents on prolonged business, etc.).

    Have your vehicle inspected at your local station and:

    * If the vehicle is permanently located in an area that doesn’t have an emissions testing program, see “Vehicles Permanently Out of State” under Inspection Requirements & Exemptions above.

    Failed Vehicle Inspections

    If your vehicle fails its Ohio emissions inspection, you must have it repaired and retested. Your testing technician will provide details about why your vehicle failed, but will not provide repair services.

    You can have your vehicle repaired at the repair facility of your choosing. As long as they occur within 1 year, you get 3 tests for free; after that, each costs $18.

    Applying for Vehicle Waivers

    Your E-Check test facility may grant a waiver if your vehicle has failed at least 1 test and you’ve made vehicle repair efforts. These waivers may be based on either tail pipe tests only or OBD II and tail pipe tests.

    Talk with your emissions technician about an eligible waiver or refer to the state’s guide to Waivers, Extensions, and Exemptions for information about your specific situation.

    Applying for Vehicle Extensions

    Aside from the extensions listed above (out-of-state vehicles, military personnel, and students), some people might be eligible for extensions based on repair issues and financial hardship.

    Refer to the state’s Waivers, Extensions, and Exemptions for details specific to your situation.

    About the OH E-Check Emissions Program

    Depending on your vehicle’s type and model year, it will receive an On-Board Diagnostics (OBD II) test, tailpipe test, opacity test, or a combination of any or all tests.

    Your technician will explain which test(s) your vehicle requires; below are general outlines of each.

    On-Board Diagnostics (OBD II)

    OBD II tests connect testing equipment to the vehicle’s computer system to check that all emissions-related components are functioning properly.

    Generally, the following vehicles are subject to OBD II tests:

    • Gasoline-powered vehicles model year 1996 and newer weighing up to 10,000 lbs.
    • Diesel-powered vehicles model year 1997 and newer.

    Tailpipe Tests

    Tailpipe tests check levels carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbon (HC), and nitrogen oxides (NOx).

    Typically, tailpipe tests are reserved for vehicles that aren’t eligible for OBD II tests or vehicles that don’t properly communicate with the vehicle’s OBD II test equipment.

    Opacity Tests

    Emissions technicians use opacity tests on diesel-powered vehicles model year 1996 and older to check the density of exhaust emissions from the vehicle’s tailpipe.

    Ohio Incentives for Eco-Friendly Driving

    As mentioned above, some eco-friendly vehicles are exempt from emissions tests. These vehicles include:

    • Electric-powered vehicles.
    • Alternative fuel vehicles powered by:
      • Propane.
      • Natural gas.
      • Butane.
      • Alcohol.

    For more information about the perks of eco-friendly rides, visit our section on green driver incentives.

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