Green Vehicle Laws and Regulations in Pennsylvania

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Although Pennsylvania only has a handful of laws specific to green vehicles and eco-friendly driving, the focus on environmental issues keeps evolvingas does legislation. Whether you drive an electric car (EV), hybrid or some other fuel-efficient vehicle, be sure to keep pace with the latest laws. Also consult your local Department of Transportation (DOT) office and the Alternative Fuels Data Center to stay up to date.

The content below contains only the laws that pertain to going green. For more on general PA traffic and safety laws, refer to the Pennsylvania Driver's Manual and vehicle code. Or if you want to learn how to save money as an Earth-conscious driver, check out our page on PA's green driver incentives.

Pennsylvania Vehicle Registration and Emissions Testing

The Pennsylvania DOT requires vehicles to undergo an emissions test before completing an annual safety inspection, whether you are renewing your vehicle registration or registering in PA for the first time. However, there are a number of exemptions depending on where you live and what you drive. For example, if you drive a diesel-powered vehicle or a car that has clocked less than 5,000 miles in the previous year, you might be exempt from emissions testing.

For more on emissions test exemptions for green-minded drivers, visit our pages on eco-friendly driver incentives and smog and emissions checks, or turn to Drive Clean Pennsylvania.

Low-Emission Vehicle Standards for Passenger Cars and Light-Duty Trucks

The Pennsylvania Clean Vehicles Program requires passenger cars and light-duty trucks (model year 2008 and newer) with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 8,500 pounds or less to meet the low-emission vehicle standards set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). So before you buy any of the following, be sure to read through the programs's standards, qualifications, and exemptions:

  • A vehicle model year 2008 and newer.
  • A new vehicle from outside of Pennsylvania.
  • A preowned vehicle model year 2008 and newer that has less than 7,500 odometer miles from an out-of-state private party.

For more, refer to the Department of Environmental Protection's Program section.

Clean Alternative Fuel Conversion Requirements

Under the Pennsylvania Clean Vehicles Program, converting a new passenger car or light-duty truck to run on clean alternative fuels must comply with the standards* of either of the following:

*Be sure you are familiar with the certification requirements for alternative fuels retrofits. Both sets of standards allow for vehicles to use alternative fuels in a dedicated or duel-fuel manner.

For full details, consult the Policy on Clean Alternative Fuel Conversion Systems. The policy also includes info for clean alternative fuel conversion manufacturers.

Requirements to Reduce Idling of Diesel-Powered Vehicles

Pennsylvania prohibits the idling of diesel-powered vehicles for more than 5 minutes per hour—except for those with a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 10,001 pounds. Additional exclusions include:

  • Motor homes.
  • Commercial implements of husbandry.
  • Implements of husbandry.
  • Farm equipment
  • Farm vehicles.

For a full list of exemptions and regulation specifics, consult the Pennsylvania Statutes (Title 35, Chapter 23B, Section 4603).

PA Auto Insurance Requirements

If you drive on Pennsylvania's public roads, you must insure your car in line with PA's car insurance requirements.

Fortunately, many car insurance companies offer discounts for eco-friendly driving and fuel-efficient vehicles such as electric cars, hybrids, and alternative fuel vehicles (AFV). Check out our page on green driver incentives for more on these money-saving perks.


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