Your Guide to Vehicle Emissions Testing in Phoenix, AZ

Living in the Valley of the Sun means enjoying stunning mountains, vibrant sunsets, and…well, sometimes, not-so-great air quality. To combat this, Phoenix requires vehicle emissions testing for certain vehicles to help reduce harmful pollutants and keep our air breathable. Whether you’re a new resident or a seasoned Phoenician, navigating the emissions testing process can be confusing. But fear not, this guide will equip you with everything you need to know!

Do you need a test?

First things first, check if your vehicle needs testing. This typically applies to gasoline-powered vehicles between 1996 and 2005 models, and diesel-powered vehicles between 1997 and 2006 models. You can easily find out by entering your vehicle information on the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) website: https://www.myazcar.com/

Where to test:

Several conveniently located ADEQ emissions testing stations are scattered throughout the Phoenix area. You can find the nearest one and check live wait times on the ADEQ website. Bonus tip: weekdays between 4-5 pm, Saturday afternoons, and mid-month tend to have shorter lines.

What to expect:

The test itself is quick and painless. Your vehicle will undergo an OBD (On-Board Diagnostics) test, which electronically checks emissions levels. If you have a pre-1996 vehicle, it will require a tailpipe test, which measures emissions directly from the exhaust.

Passing and failing:

If your car passes, hooray! You’ll receive a certificate valid for two years. But if it fails, don’t despair. You have options! You can get repairs and retest within 30 days for free. If repairs are too expensive, you might qualify for a waiver program.

Additional tips:

  • Prepare your vehicle: Ensure your gas cap is tightly sealed and avoid topping off your tank before the test.
  • Bring necessary documents: Have your vehicle registration and proof of insurance handy.
  • Pay the fee: There’s a small fee for the test, payable by cash, credit card, or check.
  • Stay informed: Bookmark the ADEQ website for updates and resources: https://www.myazcar.com/

Remember: Vehicle emissions testing plays a role in protecting our air quality.

Emissions Testing in Metro Phoenix, Arizona

If you live in metro Phoenix, Arizona, you know that emissions testing is required for all vehicles. But what if you don’t know where to go to get your emissions tested? Or what if you’re not sure what kind of emissions test your vehicle needs?

Don’t worry, I’m here to help! In this article, I’ll provide you with a list of emissions test locations in metro Phoenix, as well as information on the different types of emissions tests that are available.

Where to Get Your Emissions Tested

There are many ADEQ locations where you can get your emissions tested in Phoenix. Here’s the official list of locations.

  • Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ): ADEQ operates a number of emissions testing stations throughout the Phoenix area.

Types of Emissions Tests

There are two types of emissions tests that are required in metro Phoenix: the OBD II test and the IM147 test.

The OBD II test is a computer-based test that checks for emissions-related problems with your vehicle. The IM147 test is a drive-cycle test that measures the emissions of your vehicle while it is being driven.

If your vehicle is newer than 1996, you will only need to take the OBD II test. If your vehicle is older than 1996, you will need to take both the OBD II test and the IM147 test.

How to Prepare for Your Emissions Test

There are a few things you can do to prepare for your emissions test:

  • Make sure that your vehicle is in good working order. This includes having a clean air filter, properly inflated tires, and a properly tuned engine.
  • Make sure that your vehicle has enough fuel. You will need to have at least one-quarter of a tank of gas in your vehicle in order to take the emissions test.
  • Make sure that you have your vehicle’s registration and insurance information with you.

What to Expect at the Emissions Testing Station

When you arrive at the emissions testing station, you will need to provide your vehicle’s registration and insurance information. You will also need to pay the emissions testing fee.

The emissions test will take a few minutes to complete. Once the test is complete, you will be given a pass or fail sticker. If your vehicle passes the test, you will be able to renew your vehicle registration. If your vehicle fails the test, you will need to have the emissions-related problems fixed before you can renew your vehicle registration.

In Arizona, what law requires me to get my vehicle emissions tested?

In Arizona, the law requiring vehicle emissions testing is determined by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). Emissions testing is required in certain areas of the state where air quality is a concern, and it is typically required for vehicles that are registered in those areas.

Currently, emissions testing is required for vehicles registered in the Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas, as well as in Pinal County. The testing requirements apply to gasoline-powered vehicles that are model year 1996 or newer, and diesel-powered vehicles that are model year 1998 or newer. These vehicles are required to pass an emissions test every two years in order to renew their registration. Exceptions are some hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles, and vehicles older than 25 years.

The emissions test is conducted at an emissions testing location and typically involves checking the emissions from the vehicle’s tailpipe using a dynamometer (a machine that simulates driving conditions). The vehicle is also inspected for tampered or missing emissions control equipment. If your vehicle passes the test, you will receive a certificate that must be presented when renewing your registration. If the vehicle fails the test, you will need to make the necessary repairs and have the vehicle retested before it can pass.

It is important to check the requirements on the ADEQ website for the most up-to-date information on emissions testing requirements, however they rarly change.

Emissions Testing in Arizona FAQ

Emission testing helps in determining the level of air pollutants a motor vehicle has emitted. Normally, there are specific standards that a vehicle has to pass to be cleared from the emissions test. There are a lot of things which you might need to know about this test, and that is why this FAQ is prepared for you so that it can answer some of your questions. These answers are specific to Arizona.

Are you looking for the closest emissions testing location? 

Good news, you can now see a map with all of the locations for emissions testing in Arizona on this website. Use our handy guide to find the emissions testing location near you Emissions testing is required for all vehicles in Arizona except for vehicles that are three years or older or newer. The fee to have your vehicle emissions tested is $17. However, there are a few exceptions due to vehicle age and type.

How do I know if my vehicle emissions tech needs to be tested?

When you register a vehicle or renew your registration for a vehicle, the registration notice will alert you if registration requires emissions testing. If your registration requires testing, you’ll need to complete that before you can complete the registration of your vehicle.

How often is vehicle emissions testing required in Arizona?

Vehicle emissions testing is required every two years.

How long does vehicle emissions testing take?

If there is no line, vehicle emissions testing typically only takes about 10 minutes. The longest that I ever had to wait in a line was 30 minutes, but that is unusual. Check here for locations and wait times.

Will maintaining my vehicle help me pass an emissions test?

Yes, you can do this by ensuring that your vehicle is functioning, driving and running properly. If you notice any problem with your vehicle, the first thing you should do is to seek repair assistance as soon as possible. With proper maintenance, your vehicle will automatically pass the test because it is certain that you will ensure that everything is okay with your vehicle before the test.

Can you pass an emissions test with a check engine light on?

No, for you to pass this test, you must ensure that the check engine light is off. This will make help your vehicle to automatically pass the test. There are many techniques that can be used to turn it off, while some of these techniques turn it off for a short period, it is, therefore, advisable that you go for the test as soon as it is turned off.

Can you pass an emissions test with a bad catalytic converter?

No, Damaged catalytic converters cannot be in a position to convert toxic gases into gases that are not harmful to the health of human beings as well as the environment. This, therefore, can be a reason for your vehicle failing the test.

What can cause a car to fail an emission test?

There are many reasons, some of the common reasons are; a bad catalytic converter, defective light, problems with the evaporative emission control, dirty air filter, rich air-fuel mixture, worn out sparks, and more.

What happens if you fail the emissions test?

Your vehicle can not be registered or renewed. This means that you will not be given a license to drive your vehicle legally. Therefore, the next step should be to initiate the repairing of your vehicle so that it can pass the test and get your license. The reporter will be able to provide you with a full report explaining the repairs that are supposed to be made for your vehicle to be compliant. After finishing the repair, you should take your vehicle back for the test, and the chances are that you may pass.

Will my car pass the emission test in Arizona if the check engine light is on?

In Arizona, it will not. This is due to the fact that checking the OBD Check Engine Light is something they don’t do at the emissions testing facility. Because the Check Engine Light can be caused by a number of factors, it may not be something that affects your vehicle emissions, but they don’t have a way to check.

Flatly, 1996 and newer cars cannot pass emissions testing with the “Check Engine” light on.

Does my vehicle need an emissions test in Arizona?

Yes, as a resident of Arizona, your vehicle needs to pass the test for you to drive it legally. However, vehicles newer than six years old are normally exempted from this test

What are some ways to improve my car engine performance?

Reduce weight, forced induction system, install a performance chipset, use cold air intake to increase torque and horsepower.

Emissions Testing in Arizona FAQ Updates

If you have a question that has not been addressed in our list of Emissions Testing in Arizona FAQ. Please reach out to us and we will be sure to review your concerns and may add it in our next update.

Emissions Test Arizona

Got my Honda’s emissions tested this weekend in Scottsdale.

I left the house just after 11 am on Saturday and headed over to the emissions testing location in Scottsdale (on Evans). I originally wondered if I’d encounter a long line, but then I remembered that Saturday afternoons, in the middle of the month, are the least busy.

This was the 13th, on a Saturday. I show up, and there’s about 3 cars ahead of me, so I waited patently for about 10 minutes before it was my turn.

Then it was my turn. I pulled into the drive-through garage, and turned off my engine, as instructed.

Next, I popped out of my car and they told me I could sit in the passenger seat, or sit in a little blue boxed-in waiting area (next to my car). I chose to wait in the blue box.

The entire emissions test only took about 10 minutes, and cost me $20 (I paid with VISA, but they also accept Master Card, American Express, Discover, and cash).

I will attempt to get some photos at some point of the process!

In case you are interested, here is what they give you as your receipt, and as verification that you have passed. I’ve blurred the parts that are relevant to me.

vehicle-inspection-report-az-emissions-testing

ADOT Emission Testing

Well, it’s that time again… two years have passed, and now I need to get my car tested for emissions testing. This time around, I’m planning to write a blog post about the experience, and share any information I learn about passing the emissions test in Arizona.

Here’s the scrubbed email I just received from ADOT:

Dear CHRISTOPHER,

The vehicle registration for your 2005 HOND 4DSD, Plate XXXXXX, will expire September 15, 2014. Please pay on or before this date to avoid penalty fees.

EMISSIONS TEST IS REQUIRED
You may renew online at WWW.SERVICEARIZONA.COM after complying with emissions requirements.

Fees for a 1 year renewal are:

Veh License Tax

$101.40

Registration

$8.25

Air Quality

$1.50

Total

$111.15

Fees for a 2 year renewal are:

Veh License Tax

$186.33

Registration

$8.25

Air Quality

$3.00

Total

$197.58

Record Number: ########
VIN: ################

TO RENEW ONLINE CLICK HERE

You may also renew by Phone at: (888) 713-3031 or print this e-mail and mail with payment to: Motor Vehicle Division, 4005 N. 51st Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85031-2688.

If you have any questions, please call one of these numbers:

Phoenix: 602-255-0072

TDD Hearing/Speech Impaired:

Tucson: 520-629-9808

Phoenix: 602-712-3222

Elsewhere: 800-251-5866

Elsewhere: 800-324-5425

Regards,

Motor Vehicle Division

You know you can renew your registration on ServiceArizona.com, but there are more than 20 other services that, just like registration renewal, are fast, secure and convenient. Many are free, and all of them are available when you are.

This is an automated message: Do not reply to this e-mail.
If you received this e-mail in error, click here to unsubscribe.

Confidentiality and Nondisclosure Notice: This email transmission and any attachments are intended for use by the person(s)/entity(ies) named above and may contain confidential/privileged information. Any unauthorized use, disclosure or distribution is strictly prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by email, and delete or destroy all copies plus attachments.

How to pass emissions test for car

If you’re about ready to get your car inspected for vehicle emissions, here are some helpful tips that will help your car pass the inspection.

Tips for passing emissions test:

  • Fast idle your engine for about 30 seconds immediately before you drive into the inspection facility.
  • Ensure your seatbelt is buckled (including all passengers).
  • Drive your car around for 10-15 minutes prior to entering emissions testing so it is at peak efficiency.
  • Turn off your air conditioning, heater, radio, or other accessories before the inspection starts.
  • Check your turn signals, lights, horn, and wipers before inspection and repair if they aren’t working.
  • If you have a engine maintenance light on, go and get that checked out by your mechanic before having the emissions tested.
  • Ask the DMV inspector for assistance or tips if you fail the inspection.

Chandler Emissions Test Locations

Where can you go in Chandler to have your car emissions tested? Right now, there are two locations to choose from:

20 N. Beck Ave.
Chandler, AZ 85226

2360 S. Airport Blvd.
Chandler, AZ 85286

There is also a location in Mesa, just in case that happens to be closer for you.

Hours: Monday – Friday 8 am – 5 pm and Saturday 8 am – 5 pm.

How Frequently Do I Need an Emissions Test?

The answer is that you will be required to have each of your vehicles inspected once every two years.

When you receive your DMV renewal from the state they will indicate whether you are required to have your car tested for emissions. If so, you normally have a month or two to get it done.

Renewal of DMV fees can be done in person or at the DMV.

For a list of DMV locations in Arizona, click here.

Which vehicles are exempt from the testing requirements?

  • Most model year 2007 or newer, except reconstructed, vehicles
  • Most model year 2009 or newer original equipment alternative fuel vehicles
  • Model year 1966 and older vehicles
  • Vehicles designated as “collectible” (requires collectible vehicle insurance, reported to Arizona Motor Vehicle Division by insurer)
  • Electric powered, golf carts or vehicles with engine displacement of less than 90cc
  • Motorcycles registered in the Tucson metropolitan area
  • Apportioned vehicles (licensed in more than one state)
  • Vehicles leased to a person residing outside the emission control areas
  • Vehicles transferred between dealers (wholesale)

Emissions Test Waiver Locations in Arizona

If you have had your emissions test fail at least two times, you may qualify for a waiver.

You’ll need to demonstrate that sufficient effort and costs were incurred in an effort to repair your vehicle. There is a fee for the waiver. Save all of your repair receipts. Once a waiver has been granted that vehicle may never receive another. Therefore, you’ll probably need to eventually get it repaired.

Waiver facilities are open 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday, except for all major state holidays.

There are two locations in Arizona, and they are:

600 North 40th Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85008

4040 East 29th Street
Tucson, Arizona 85711

Good luck with your vehicle inspection!

What should I do if my car fails the emissions test

If your vehicle has failed an emissions test at an Arizona facility, they’ll usually give you some indication about why it has failed. You can take that information and provide it to any mechanic and with any luck they will be able to make some repairs to your vehicle. You can take a free retest after you complete your repairs.

Why do I need an emissions test in Arizona? The reason is that Arizona is one of the fastest-growing states in the country and because of the mountains surrounding our cities (especially Phoenix), air pollution tends to settle in the valleys. This creates a smog build-up that is visible in the air. What happened was that the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) partnered with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) to administer a program they dubbed Car Care. The program is designed to control emissions and reduce pollution in the air. Arizona risks losing millions of dollars in federal highway funds if they don’t participate in the Clean Air Act, a federal program.

There are 31 states that require vehicle emissions testing. Of those, 9 operate like Arizona with locations centralized. Other states allow independent auto-repair shops to check emissions. One reason Arizona doesn’t allow independent auto-shops to test is that we have more stringent standards. Arizona tests older vehicles (1967 to 1995 models) on the dynamometer rolling system. This system is too expensive for most auto shops to install.

Data from 2011 shows that only 6.3% of 2006 model vehicles failed the initial emissions test. Older cars made between 1967 and 1977 had higher failure rates usually between 32-43% (that’s high!).

More than 90% of newer vehicles pass the test on the first run (about 1.3 million Arizonans a year).

First, the good news! You’re car re-inspection is free (as long as you return within 60 days) and you complete the repair information notes (reverse side of the original vehicle inspection report).

If your vehicle fails the emissions test two or more times and you have made reasonable attempts to repair it, then you may qualify for a waiver.

Some common reasons for a smog check failure include:

HC – Hydrocarbon faults:

  • Incorrect ignition timing
  • Faulty spark plugs and/or wires
  • Lean fuel mixtures
  • Vacuum leaks
  • Low cylinder compression

CO – Carbon Monoxide faults:

  • Faulty oxygen sensor(s)
  • Defective MAP sensor
  • Defective TPS sensor
  • Defective ECT sensor
  • Faulty fuel injection/carburetor

NOx – Nitrous Oxide faults:

  • Defective EGR system
  • Lean fuel mixtures
  • Overheating engine
  • High cylinder compression
  • Defective catalytic converter

Note: The possibilities listed above vary based on your vehicle’s make and model. Sometimes a vehicle can fail based on something entirely different. Always do a hands-on diagnosis and speak with a qualified mechanic.

If the check engine light is on, you’ll most likely want to check that out with your mechanic prior to getting your emissions test done. The folks at ADEQ actually recommend getting a check-engine light looked at prior to testing since it is likely to fail.

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
    • The 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).

Vehicle inspection for cars in Arizona

Unlike other states, an 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 its web site about vehicle inspections.