Smog Check in Pennsylvania

SUMMARY: Pennsylvania Vehicle Inspections

Pennsylvania requires most vehicles in certain regions to undergo safety and/or emissions tests annually. Official PA inspection stations are located throughout the state and set their own testing fees. New residents are subject to the same requirements, but have different initial testing timelines.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Departments of Transportation and Environmental Protection work together to maintain the state's safety and emissions testing programs. Keep reading for detailed information.

New Pennsylvania Residents

VIN Tracing & Verification

When moving to PA, you will need to register your vehicle within 20 days of establishing residency. To register, you'll need to submit a vehicle identification number (VIN) tracing.

This is accomplished by placing tracing paper over your VIN plate and rubbing a pencil lead over the numbers to produce an image of your VIN. You'll need to attach this to your title application (Form MV-1).

If you can't find your plate, or can't get a readable tracing, you can take your car to an inspection mechanic or dealership notary public who can provide a verification of your VIN.

Safety Inspections

Within 10 days of registration, your vehicle must undergo a safety inspection. Visit our section below on completing a vehicle inspection for details.

Emissions Inspections

If your vehicle is located in an emissions inspection county, you'll need to have it tested for emissions along with your safety inspection. These tests can typically be done at the same time.

Inspection Requirements & Exemptions

Pennsylvania Safety Inspections

NOTE: If your vehicle is required to undergo emissions inspection, you must have an emissions test certificate that is/will be valid for at least the next 90 days before you can receive your safety inspection sticker. If your emissions certificate will expire within 90 days, you must have it renewed before renewing your safety inspection.

Inspection Requirements

The following vehicles must undergo safety inspections:

  • Passenger cars and light-duty trucks.
  • Medium- and heavy-duty trucks.
  • Buses, including school buses.
  • Recreational, utility, and semi-trailers.
  • Motorcycles.
  • Street rods.
  • Specially constructed and reconstructed vehicles.
  • Vehicles with alternative fuel systems and controls.

Additionally, vehicles with sun-screening devices must have those devices inspected.

Generally, safety inspection dates coincide with emissions testing dates.

Once your vehicle passes the safety inspection, you'll receive a PA inspection sticker valid for 1 year.*

* NOTE: Certain vehicles undergo semi-annual inspections; you can find a full list within PennDOT's Inspection Regulations manual.

Inspection Exemptions

The following vehicles are exempt from safety inspections:

  • Motorized pedalcycles.
  • Antique vehicles.
  • Special mobile equipment.
  • Husbandry implements.
  • Motor vehicles being towed.
  • Motor vehicles or trailers being driven or towed by owners or employees of official PA vehicle inspection stations for the purpose of getting an inspection.
  • Trailers weighing 3,000 lbs. or fewer.
  • Vehicles being repossessed.
  • Newly manufactured vehicles during testing (but not transit).
  • Military vehicles:
    • Must be used by private, non-profit, tax-exempt military educational institutions.
    • Must not operate more than 1 mile on public roads and when the property on both sides of the public road is owned by the military institution.

Pennsylvania Emissions Inspections

Inspection Requirements

Your vehicle must undergo an emissions inspection annually. Your registration renewal card will remind you when it's time to have an emissions test.

Only vehicles registered in certain counties must take part in Pennsylvania's Vehicle Emissions Inspection & Maintenance (I/M) Program. Consult the Drive Clean Pennsylvania Region Maps for a list of required counties.

Within those counties, all gasoline-powered cars, vans, light duty trucks require testing if they:

  • Are model year 1975 and newer.
  • Weigh up to 9,000 lbs.

Inspection Exclusions & Exemptions

The following vehicles are excluded from emissions testing:

  • Motorcycles.
  • Vehicles registered as:
    • Classic.
    • Antique.
    • Collectible.
    • Street rod.
    • Specially constructed.

Excluded vehicles do NOT have to visit an inspection station for any sort of exclusion/exemption sticker.

Your vehicle is exempted from the emissions program if:

  • You've owned your vehicle for 1 year AND it was driven for fewer than 5,000 miles.
    • You'll need to have your mileage verified and apply for an exemption sticker at an emissions inspection facility.
    • Exemption sticker fees vary by station.
  • Your vehicle is brand new (i.e. without previous title and registration) AND has been driven fewer than 5,000 miles prior to registration.
    • You should be given an exemption sticker from your dealer that is good for 1 year.

Again, as stated above, you DO need to obtain an exemption sticker for your exempted vehicle, either from your dealership or from your local inspection station.

Completing a PA Vehicle Inspection

Safety Inspections

As stated above, in required counties you must have an emissions inspection sticker valid for at least the next 90 days in order to have your safety inspection completed.

To complete your vehicle safety inspection, visit any of the official PA vehicle inspection stations; usually, these are repair stations or garages with repair stations.

Fees vary by location and are posted at the station. Call ahead for any paperwork or documents you must bring.

Once your car passes its PA safety inspection, you'll receive a Certificate of Inspection to use for your registration renewal.

Emissions Inspections

Drive Clean Pennsylvania provides emissions location information for each region; bring your vehicle to the most convenient testing location for you. Reference About the PA Inspection Programs below for details about the kinds of tests your vehicle will need to pass.

Like safety inspection fees, the cost for PA car emissions testing varies by station; call ahead for exact fees, as well as any documents or other paperwork to bring.

Once your vehicle passes inspection, you'll receive a renewed emissions inspection certificate in addition to a sticker that will be affixed to your windshield.

Failed Vehicle Inspections

If your vehicle fails its Pennsylvania emissions inspection, you must have it repaired and retested; because many inspection stations are also repair stations, often you can have your vehicle repaired there.

You will be allowed 1 retest for free

  • It's is within 30 calendar days of the original inspection.
  • Your vehicle's inspected at the service center where the initial emissions test was performed.

You must have your vehicle repaired and retested BEFORE you current safety inspection certificate expires.

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