Do I need to have my car emissions tested in Arizona?

You’ll want to check with the state, but you typically do not need to have your emissions tested if you:

  • Arizona does exempt most vehicles of the newest five model years
  • Vehicle is registered outside of the test area – typically outside of Phoenix or Tucson – in this case, use the ADEQ address locator.
  • Have a vehicle that is located outside of the State of Arizona.
  • If you are active duty military and stationed outside of Arizona and nobody else is using your vehicle you may apply for an exemption.
  • Vehicles out of state at test time (sometimes you need to get it tested in another state, or they will give you a 1-year exemption).
  • Information from the state about exemptions.

Vehicle inspection for cars in Arizona

Unlike other states actual physical inspection of your vehicle is not required by the state of Arizona as long as the owner can provide proof of ownership in the form of a title and/or registration.

Emissions testing may still be required.

The make of the vehicle, and vehicle identification number (VIN), body style, and some other general vehicle information will need to be provided to the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD).

It should be noted that if there are obvious mechanical or safety problems the registration may be denied until those items are fixed.

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) provides a section on their web site about vehicle inspections.

Emissions Testing Locations in Phoenix – Frequently asked questions

So, you’re looking for the best place to get your vehicle inspected for emissions? This little FAQ has been produced by a Phoenix resident who has done it before.

Q: What happens if my car fails?
A: You simply need to take your car to a mechanic, or fix it yourself, and then return for a complimentary test. In most cases, you can ask the attendant to explain why your car failed and they’ll be able to point you in the right direction. If you have to take a third test, you will be required to pay again.

Q: How long does it take?
A: Getting your car emissions tested usually takes less than 10 minutes, not including wait times. You can check webcams of locations online to get a sense for how many cars are ahead of you.

Q: How can I get the best result?
A: While waiting in line, if you leave your vehicle running it can heat up and cause a failure. Less from the heat, and more from the emissions build up due to lack of motion. We recommend revving the engine To avoid over-heating while waiting. Keep the engine running and, while in neutral or park, rev the engine for 15 seconds at a time. Turn off your air conditioner. This is the recommended practice.

Q: Cold engine or hot engine?
A: I have personally experienced taking a car that I just started over to the emissions testing facility… and failed. So, take my advice and drive around for 15 minutes to warm up your vehicle. It will run better and be more likely to pass.

Q: Can I bring a trailer?
A: No, leave your trailer at home.

Q: Can I bring a passenger?
A: They say no, but you can… you are even able to bring your child. The driver will be required to step out of the vehicle for a few minutes, however.

Q: My check engine light is on, will my car still pass?
A: ADEQ recommends that you have your vehicle inspected by a mechanic to determine the reason. They state that “1996 and newer vehicles with on-board diagnostic (OBD) equipment will not pass emissions testing if the check engine light is on.”

Do you have a question? If so, get in touch!