Smog Check and Car Inspection in Texas

SUMMARY: Texas Vehicle Safety & Emissions Inspections

In Texas, you must submit your vehicle to a safety inspection and emissions testing within 30 days of moving to the state. Established residents will need to renew your inspection upon registration renewal. Safety inspections are mandatory for all vehicles, while emissions tests are required in certain counties only. Brand new vehicles are also exempt from smog checks.

Continue reading for more information about Texas safety inspections and the Inspection and Maintenance (I/M) Program, including which residents and vehicles require them, applicable fees, and what to do after your vehicle passes or fails an inspection.

NOTE: Important changes to the Texas inspection and vehicle registration programs became effective in March of 2015. Please see Inspection Requirements and Exemptions below for details.

New Texas Residents

You must register your vehicle within 30 days of moving to Texas, and both vehicle safety inspections and emissions tests are required before you can register.

Texas does not recognize out-of-state inspections.

Refer to “Inspection Requirements and Exemptions" and “Completing a TX Vehicle Inspection" below for more information on required testing.

Inspection Requirements and Exemptions

Texas Vehicle Inspection Requirements

Safety Inspections

You must have your vehicle inspected before you can register it; there are no exceptions.

New Inspection & Registration Stickers

Beginning in March 2015, proof of registration and inspection will be combined into one sticker. From March 1, 2015 up to March 1, 2016, you can renew your registration if your inspection is still valid. If it expires when your registration does, you'll need a new inspection to renew.

After March 1, 2016, inspections and registrations will expire at the same time, and you will have 90 days to complete both your renewal and inspection. Learn more about this change on the Two Steps, One Sticker website.

Emissions Inspections

Texas requires all gasoline-powered vehicles 2 to 24 model years old to undergo annual emissions testing (new vehicles don't require emissions testing until they are at least 2 model years old.).

Testing is required only in the following areas/counties:

  • Austin-Round Rock:
    • Travis
    • Williamson
  • Houston-Galveston-Brazoria:
    • Brazoria
    • Fort Bend
    • Galveston
    • Harris
    • Montgomery
  • Dallas-Fort Worth:
    • Collin
    • Dallas
    • Denton
    • Ellis
    • Johnson
    • Kaufman
    • Parker
    • Rockwall
    • Tarrant
  • El Paso:
    • El Paso

Inspection Exemptions

No vehicles in Texas are exempt from safety inspections.

The following vehicles are exempt from emissions testing:

  • Vehicles under 2 years old.
  • Vehicles older than 24 years old.
  • Diesel-powered vehicles.

Completing a TX Vehicle Inspection

Safety Inspections

To complete a vehicle safety inspection in Texas, visit a DPS-certified inspection station and bring the $7 safety inspection fee.

The state's portion of the fees varies based on vehicle age, type, and location, and are due at the time of registration or renewalnot during the safety inspection.

Once your vehicle passes, you'll receive documentation to present when you register or renew your registration; this information may also be entered electronically. You'll then receive a windshield sticker as proof of passing and valid registration as part of the Two Step, One Sticker program.

NOTE: Generally, safety inspection stations don't require proof of registration or identification; however, it's best to bring these documents as requirements can vary by station.

Failed Safety Inspections

If your vehicle fails, you must have it repaired and retested.

Emissions Inspections

To complete a vehicle emissions check in Texas, visit a DPS-certified inspection station and bring:

After you pass your emissions test, you'll receive a Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) stating you passed (these reports also state if you've failed). You may obtain a copy of the report for up to 13 months of the inspection date.

Failed Emissions Inspections

If your car or truck fails its Texas smog check, you must have it repaired and retested; if it still fails, it could be eligible for a waiver or extension. These vary from low-mileage waivers for vehicles driven less than 5,000 miles during its inspection cycle, to low-income waivers for residents who qualify.

Visit the TCEQ's Waivers and Extensions page for a full list.

Repair Assistance

If you meet certain location, income, and vehicle requirements, you could be eligible for a repair assistance voucher of up to $600.

Qualifying vehicles must be repaired at an approved emissions repair facility. You'll receive a list from the program administrator when your voucher application is approved.

Learn more about repair assistance requirements and how to apply for a voucher at the state's Vehicle Repair Assistance page.

About the TX Inspection Programs

Safety Inspections

Your technician will check the basic safety components of your vehicle including, but not limited to, the vehicle's:

  • Brakes.
  • Lights.
  • Steering.
  • Tires.
  • Horn.

Emissions Inspections

Depending on your vehicle and location, your vehicle will undergo:

  • On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) testing: Determines whether vehicle components— such as the emission control equipment, ignition system, and fuel metering system—are functioning within emissions standards.
  • Acceleration Stimulation Mode (ASM) testing: Uses a dynamometer to check for nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrocarbons (HC), and carbon monoxide (CO) for vehicles model year 1995 and older. ASM is comprised of 2 steps:
    • 50/15 mode: Simulates 50% of the vehicle's HP at 15 MPH.
    • 25/25 mode: Simulates 25% of the vehicle's HP at 25 MPH.
  • Two-Speed Idle (TSI) testing: Checks for CO2, CO, and HC for vehicles model year 1995 and older. TSI is comprised of 2 steps:
    • High-speed inspection: Checks the vehicle at 2,200 to 2800 RPM.
    • Idle inspection: Checks the vehicle at at 350 to 1,200 RPM.

Texas Incentives for Eco-Friendly Driving

Texas rewards drivers of eco-friendly, "green" vehicles.

The following vehicles are exempt from smog and emissions testing:

  • Vehicles not powered by gasoline (including electric vehicles).
  • Diesel-powered vehicles.

Because they're able to run on gasoline, hybrids are not exempt from smog checks.

NOTE: All vehicles registered in Texas must undergo the safety inspection, regardless of whether they are electric cars, hybrids, diesels, etc.

For more information about the perks and laws of eco-friendly driving, including smog checks and emissions inspections, visit our sections on green driver incentives and green driving laws and regulations.

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