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:

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:

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

Is The Air Quality in Arizona Bad & Is It a Health Concern?

Is The Air Quality in Arizona Bad & Is It a Health Concern?

Arizona has received a good score in the Air Quality Check. The problem is that highly populated cities like Phoenix and Tucson continue to fail the air quality test.

The reasoning behind this isn’t all just because of vehicle emissions. Sure vehicles are part of the problem and that is why we test for vehicle emissions but any type of smoke from factories or even natural fires can hurt our air quality.

Sunshine and a high heat index mixed with some pollutants cause a chemical reaction which is how Smog is created. We already deal with some pretty high temperatures which are said to increase the speed at which these chemical reactions occur in the air. Once the pollutants begin to change they cause damage to the Ozone which is why it seems to get hotter each year.

Rain is said to push down and wash away air pollutants but it doesn’t rain very often in Arizona with it being a desert and all when it does come we can enjoy knowing that it is washing away the pollutants in our air and we can breathe a little easier.

So, What Does It Have To Do With Health?

When the Air Quality is bad it’s a good idea to stay home and maybe change out your air filters. This is more important for people who deal with Asthma, Lung Disease, or any other breathing condition that people may have. Breathing heavily polluted air is bad for everyone but for people with lung issues, it could be even worse. You can check the local weather to see what level the air quality is at each day if you are concerned but the best thing to do is to work to reduce pollutants so that we can all enjoy good quality air to breathe.

Beyond Emissions, Here Are Some Things You Can Do To Help.

There are many things we can do to help reduce air pollution. provided these helpful tips that every Arizona citizen can follow to help reduce the air pollution levels in your city.

  • Eliminate tobacco smoke
  • Reduce your use of wood stoves and fireplaces
  • Don’t burn candles, leaves, garbage, plastic, or rubber
  • Use HEPA air filters and air cleaners designed to reduce particles
  • Drive less: carpool, use public transportation, bike, or walk
  • Keep the car, boat, and other engines tuned
  • Inflate tires to the recommended pressure
  • When refueling: stop when the pump shuts off, avoid spilling fuel, and tighten your gas cap
  • Use low-VOC paint and cleaning products, and seal and store them so they can’t evaporate
  • Choose energy-saving appliances
  • Set thermostats higher in summer and lower in winter
  • Turn off lights you are not using

Emissions Testing & The Air Quality Check

The reason that Emissions Testing & The Air Quality Check is mandated by the state is for the health and safety of all Arizona residents and because in 1987 the federal government earmarked federal funds to states that work to reduce emissions. 

As these two areas continue to grow in population there is an increase in traffic which means higher emissions from additional vehicles.

Older vehicles need more maintenance to stay in good working condition and if they are not they often produce more emissions which lowers the air quality and can be unhealthy for those with respiratory problems.

What To Do If You Fail Your Vehicle Emissions Test

As your vehicle gets older it is likely that at some point you may fail the emissions test. Even if your vehicle is in great working order and you maintain it regularly things can still begin to deteriorate and you won’t always see a check engine light if there is a problem with your vehicle emissions. Sometimes you may have to get repairs made to your vehicle before you can retest and in some cases, these repairs can be expensive.

Voluntary Vehicle Repair Program

If you need assistance getting the repairs completed for your vehicle after you have failed the emissions test you can request help through the Voluntary Vehicle Repair Program. This program provides financial assistance for people that need help covering the cost of repairs but only after they have failed the Arizona Emissions Test.

You can receive up to $550 for a standard gasoline vehicle and up to $1000 for heavy-duty diesel vehicles that may need repairs to pass the retest. In most cases, the repairs do not tend to be very expensive but they must be completed at an ADEQ-approved facility. Now not just anyone can be approved for this program so be sure to check to see if you qualify. Here are a few reasons why you would qualify for the program.

  • Your vehicle has been registered in Maricopa or Pima County for at least the last 12 months and the registration has not lapsed by more than 60 days.
  • Your automobile is at least 12 years of age or older.
  • Your vehicle has failed the emissions test within 60 days before your registration expires.
  • It is not a motorhome, motorcycle, salvage vehicle, or a type of fleet vehicle.
  • The emission control system has not been tampered with, removed, or disabled in any way.
  • The owner has not participated in the program within the last 12 months.

What To Expect When You Come To Test Your Vehicle Emissions

  • Pull your car into the station, put it in the park, and apply your emergency brake. If your vehicle is a manual transmission, ensure you put it in neutral
  • Choose where you are most comfortable waiting for the test to be completed: the waiting booth, waiting area, or outside
  • While you are waiting the inspector performs the On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) test — without getting into your vehicle — the inspector reaches in to connect the OBD cord to the data link connector (DLC)
  • Once that is complete, you will be asked to return to your vehicle to turn the ignition key to the accessory position, so the inspector can verify the check engine light is functioning
  • You will then starts your vehicle, allowing the inspector to observe that the check engine light turns off from a safe distance
  • After the OBD test is complete, you will turn off the vehicle and exit to the waiting area of your choice (waiting booth, waiting area, or outside)
  • When payment is due, simply insert your credit card and remove it when processing is complete
  • You then return to your vehicle, and the inspector finishes the test process and delivers your vehicle information report, all while maintaining social distancing


This website is not affiliated with either ADEQ or It is simply an additional Emissions Testing & The Air Quality Check resource for people who are trying to find the station closest to them. Please use the site to double-check that your chosen location is still open before driving there.

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.


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:


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.

You may renew online at WWW.SERVICEARIZONA.COM after complying with emissions requirements.

Fees for a 1 year renewal are:

Veh License Tax




Air Quality




Fees for a 2 year renewal are:

Veh License Tax




Air Quality




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


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


Motor Vehicle Division

You know you can renew your registration on, 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 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.

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!

AZ Emissions Testing Cost

Metro Phoenix:

  • 1981 and newer cars and most light trucks (under 8501 lbs.): $27.75
  • Most other vehicles (except heavy duty diesels): $19.00
  • Heavy-duty diesel vehicles (greater than 8,500 pounds gross vehicle weight): $28.00

Metro Tucson:

  • All vehicles: $12.25

Payment Method:

  • Credit/Debit cards (Visa or MasterCard only) may now be used for vehicle emission inspection.
  • Cash and personal checks are accepted at inspection stations.

Checks must be:

  • Drawn on an Arizona bank or branch
  • Imprinted with customer’s name and physical Arizona address (no P.O. Boxes)
  • Payable to Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
  • No third party checks
  • Provide valid driver’s license, bank guarantee card or other photo ID when paying with check
  • No refunds

You should always ensure you actually need to get your vehicle tested before actually going. If your registration renewal notice included the words “Emissions Test Required”, then you are required to get your emissions tested.

Motorcycle Emissions Testing in Phoenix

Emissions testing of motorcycles is not required in Arizona. This is fantastic news for motorcycle riders! As of June 21, 2013 motorcycles are no longer required to receive emissions testing (in Metro Phoenix). Tucson residents haven’t needed to get emissions testing since 2007. That means motorcycles statewide are exempt from emissions tests. Hooray!

If you want to verify this yourself, or want further information you can contact the motor vehicle division at 602-255-0072 or ADEQ at 602-771-3954 or read it here yourself.

Motorcycle Exemption Law: Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 49-542(J)(2)(l) exempts motorcycles from the emissions test. The law became effective in Tucson in 2007 and in Phoenix on June 21, 2013.

Did you know that you can see any vehicles test history? To do so, you’ll need the VIN for any car that has previously been tested. Enter that code on this web page and you’ll be shown the test history. Did you know, the state also has a web site where you can enter a VIN to see if that car is reported stolen.

Find out wait times: Lastly, if you are still needing to get a vehicle emissions tested. You can find the wait times at emissions testing locations online. You can even see webcams from each location to get an idea of the number of cars ahead of you.

Scottsdale Emissions Testing Locations

The best location in Scottsdale is in the Scottsdale Airpark on Evans.

8448 E. Evans
Scottsdale, AZ 85260

This location has the same hours as the other locations, which are Monday – Friday from 8am – 5pm, and Saturday from 8am – 5pm.

Emission testing is often faster mid-week, and in the middle-of-the-month, as well as weekdays after work from 5-7pm. Believe it or not, you can also usually get in and out quickly on Saturday afternoons.

Closed: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving,
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Pretty much what you would expect.