How and Where to Get Your Vehicle Emissions Checked

By: Staff Writer June 23, 2012
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Reside in a state or area that requires smog check certification for vehicle registration? If yes, you need to visit a state-approved emissions test station. Any ol' car mechanic won't do.

Find a Smog Test Station

Most states, cities, and regions that require emissions test certification provide handy emissions-specific websites (a select few states merge the information with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website). Each one provides a specific Station Locater page, allowing you to search by zip code and/or city.

You are not restricted to the station or stations in your area. Any station will work, provided its state-approved. For convenience purposes, many facilities provide information on the best times - meaning the slowest times - to visit. Some even provide on-site Web cams, allowing you to judge the wait times yourself.

What to Bring to the Emissions Check

Your state will notify you when a smog check is due. Generally, states require tests every two years.

Before leaving the house, have the following documents:

  • Car registration certificate.
  • Drivers license.
  • Proof of insurance.
  • Proper payment to cover the smog check fee. Some stations may not accept checks and/or credit cards. Play it safe and call before arriving.

Failing an Emissions Test

If your vehicle fails the emissions test, the inspector will provide a Vehicle Inspection Report detailing what failed. You must repair the car and have it re-tested within a certain time frame.

Contact the DMV if you cannot afford the prescribed repair costs.

Has your vehicle ever failed a smog check? What repairs did you need to make?

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