Illinois Smog Check / Emissions Test
The State of Illinois vehicle emissions testing program began in 1990 when the U.S. government implemented the Federal Clean Air Act. The law requires state and local municipalities that did not meet the law’s pollution-level requirements to implement vehicle emissions testing. This regulatia on mostly impacts vehicle owners who live in large metropolitan areas that do not meet federal air quality standards. The goal of Illinois’s Inspection and Maintenance (I/M) program is to get vehicles emitting too many pollutants to get their emissions-related mechanical issues repaired. The hope is to improve Illinois’s overall air quality.
Requirements to Pass the Illinois Smog Check
The State of Illinois requires smog checks in Illinois for certain zip codes in Northeastern Illinois and Metro East St. Louis areas. Below is a table that shows the areas that require smog checks:
|| All except: 60109, 60119, 60135, 60140, 60142, 60144, 60147, 60151, 60152, 60178, 60182, 60511, 60520, 60545, and 60554
||All except: 60447, 60450, 60512, 60536, 60537, 60541, those parts of 60543 that are not within the census defined area, 60545, 60548, and 60560
||All except: 60001, 60033, 60034, 60071, 60072, 60097, 60098, 60135, 60142, 60152, and 60180
|| All except: 2001, 62012, 62021, 62026, 62046, 62058, 62061, 62067, 62074, 62086, 62088, 62097, 62249, 62275, 62281, and 62293
||All except: 62244, 62248, 62256, 62261, 62264, 62276, 62277, 62278, 62279, 62295, and 62298
|| All except: 62224, 62243, 62248, 62254, 62255, 62257, 62258, 62260, 62264, 62265, 62269, 62278, 62282, 62285, 62289, 62293, and 62298
||All except: 60401, 60407, 60408, 60410, 60416, 60418, 60421, 60442, 60447, 60468, 60481, 60935, and 60950
Owners living in one of the above zip codes and owning a vehicle falling into one of the following categories require a vehicle emissions test:
- Gasoline passenger vehicles newer than 1996 and is more than four years old
- Motor vehicles weighing between 8,501 and 14,000 pounds and manufactured in 2007 model year or later
In Illinois, smog checks must be performed every two years on vehicles manufactured four years ago or more. The checks stay valid for two years and must be done around the same time as the vehicle’s registration renewal is coming due. Normally, vehicles with even number model years get tested in even number years, and vehicles made in odd number years get tested in odd number years. Registrations requiring reinstatement, suspended registrations, registration renewals, and new registrations require the passing of a test.
Smog Check Exemptions for Illinois Drivers
A vehicle will not be exempted from passing a vehicle emissions test if it falls into one of the following categories:
- motorcycle, moped or a motorized bicycle
- Antique, custom, street rod, or vehicle made in 1967 or earlier
- Vehicles manufactured in 1995 or later, and that are compliant with the Feb. 1, 2007 Illinois Vehicle Emission Inspection Law
- Diesel vehicles and vehicles only powered by electricity
- Vehicles only used in parades or other ceremonies
- Designated farm equipment
- Vehicles with out-of-state registrations that have already passed an emissions check
- Vehicles used in amateur or professional sports
- Vehicles with a junk title issued by the Illinois Secretary of State
- Vehicles considered implements of war by the Illinois or U.S. Federal Government
- Vehicles made in the 2006 model year weighing between 8,501 – 14,000 lbs
- Vehicles weighing more than 14,000 lbs
Smog Check Fees
There is a $20 annual fee for a voluntary smog checks, which can be completed by a state licensed Inspection Station. These stations post signs at the station stating they do smog checks and will post a maximum fee for testing.
Performing Emissions Testing in Illinois
Illinois vehicle owners should receive a registration renewal notice in the mail or can sign up to receive on through their email. They can also check online to see if their vehicle is due for an test as well. Owners can get their vehicles tested up to 4 months before they need to get their registrations renewed.
On Board Diagnostic Tests – The Illinois DMV will administer an ODBII test on most motor vehicles made in the 1996 or newer model years. The OBDII system installed in U.S. manufactured vehicles made in the 1996 and newer model years is a mechanical issue early-warning system. The system records the vehicle’s performance by administering a specific kind of test referred to as a “Monitor”. Monitors test a vehicle’s primary emissions components and subsystems. While the key is in the ignition and the engine is off, a test technician will make sure the vehicle’s DLC (Data Link Connector) works properly. Then, the test technician hooks an emissions diagnostic tool up to your vehicle’s DLC using a cable to allow the technician’s diagnostic tool to communicate with the vehicle’s OBD II system. The Illinois DMV test technician can check your vehicle’s engine and emissions systems, and see if any monitors state a “Not Ready” status. If there are too many monitors stating a “Not Ready” status, then the vehicle will not pass the test. The test personnel can complete the test in around 2 minutes.
Gas Cap Test – The Illinois Air Care Team requires a Gas Cap Test on all vehicles older than 1995 to make sure they seal properly. Illinois registered vehicles made in the 1996 model year or later will have the ODBII system check their gas cap automatically.
Vehicles weighing over 16000 lbs may be required to be tested. The Illinois Department of Transportation administers this testing program. If a vehicle owner has registered vehicle weighing over 16000 lbs, check for further details with the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Failed Smog Inspections – Next Steps
Illinois registered vehicles that do not pass their initial smog inspection must get repaired and retested. The State of Illinois requires that a state certified repair technician makes the repairs so that the state’s repair standards can be followed.
The vehicle owner has the repairs completed on their vehicle and it still fails the check, the vehicle owner may be eligible for a Repair waiver. In order to apply for the waiver the vehicle must have received the maximum number of repairs allowed for under the vehicle’s emission performance warranty.
Low Income? Try the Illinois Hardship Waiver
Vehicle owners with Illinois registered vehicles that do not pass their emissions test and who are unable to afford the emissions-related repairs required to pass Illinois’s vehicle testing requirements can apply for a one-year waiver in order to extend the due date to comply with the requirements and renew their Illinois vehicle registration. This Economic Hardship Extension can be granted only if the applicant meets all of the eligibility criteria:
- Proof of Household Income – Vehicle owner(s) over the age of 18 must prove their income over the last 12 months did not exceed the allowable amount to be considered eligible for Hardship waiver.
- The vehicle in question must have not passed an emissions test. “Reject” or “no communication” does not count as a failure.
- Receipts and estimates for repairs done on the vehicle can not be dated older than five months of the vehicle’s registration expiration date and must total at least $225. Receipts will not be accepted for brakes, exhaust systems, hoses, or belts.
- Repairs and estimates must be performed by recognized repair technicians. These are automotive repair professionals who work for an automotive repair business recognized by the state or nationally, and/or who has professional certifications in emissions-related automotive repairs.Receipts and estimates must also be on the repair technicians business’ letterhead, work order, or invoice, and be signed and dated. The document can include the cost for parts, services/labor, and diagnostic fees. Handwritten estimates will not be accepted.
- Owners performing the work themselves can only submit estimates for the cost of the parts.Parts can only be for emissions-related repairs, the estimate can be a receipt from an auto parts store or an estimate on a business invoice for parts from a recognized auto repair facility.
- The vehicle owner must not have applied for a Hardship waiver previously for the current vehicle in question. Or, if they have in the past done so, the vehicle must have previously past its inspection before applying for and receiving another Hardship waiver.
The State of Illinois requires the following documentation when applying for a Hardship Extension:
- A completed Economic Hardship Extension application. Applicants may apply online.
- Make sure to include all 17 digits of your vehicle’s VIN on the application. The VIN on Test Notice postcard in not the entire 17-digit VIN. Not providing the complete VIN number on your waiver application will delay its processing. The VIN can be found in several places, including on the vehicle’s dashboard, on a label in the driver’s side door, and on vehicle sales documents and auto insurance records.
- Repair receipts and/or estimates of at least $225 signed and dated by a recognized repair technician
Moved to Illinois – Smog Check Requirements
Vehicle owners moving to Illinois have 30 days to get their vehicle registered. Once registered, they will receive a smog check notice in the mail. Since not all counties or cities in the state require smog check, the state suggests that new Illinois residents wait until they receive their testing notice in the mail.
Transferring a Vehicle Title in Illinois – Smog Check Needed?
If someone buys through a private seller, receives a vehicle as gift, or inherits a vehicle they have 20 days to get the vehicle registered. Once registered the new owner will receive a Test Notice in the mail. Owners who buy a new vehicle, will have the registration done by the dealer. New vehicles have 4 years before they must get a smog check.
Do Sellers Give Buyers a Valid Smog Certificate?
The State of Illinois requires automotive dealers who sell a used cars to provide a valid smog check certificate for the buyer of any vehicle that they are selling. However, buyers purchasing a used vehicle from a private seller with an expired vehicle’s emissions certificate must be retested after the vehicle owner gets a new registration in their name.
Special Tips to Pass the Illinois Emissions Test
Illinois vehicle orders may want to get their vehicle’s tested as soon as they receive their first testing notice. Allow extra time to get any needed repairs done before your registration expires. Also, if a vehicle owner plans to be out of town during the date when their registration expires, the planning early will give owners time to meet the deadline. Here are some tips to keep in mind to ensure passing a Illinois vehicle emissions test:
- Make sure the vehicle does not have its “Check Engine” light on; If it does, it will not pass the test. To fix, check to make the gas cap is on tight. If it is not, tighten it and drive around to see if the light goes off.
- Follow the vehicle’s recommended maintenance schedule. Many of the mechanical issues that cause vehicles to fail their tests can be addressed during a routine check-up
- If your vehicle is a make and model year when catalytic converters came standard on the vehicle, make sure your vehicle has one and is not malfunctioning; If it does not have one or it is not working, it will not pass the test
- Allow your vehicle to run for at least 10 minutes before it takes a test to insure an accurate reading
- Research your vehicle manufacturer’s recalls, Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs), and warranties before getting any repairs done. The cost of their repair maybe covered by the manufacturer.
- If your vehicle’s On Board Diagnostic (OBDII) system is showing trouble codes, make sure to get them fixed by a certified emissions mechanic. Do not just try to clear the codes.Test personnel will know and the vehicle will not pass inspection.
- If your vehicle is misfiring when it is idling, make sure to get this addressed before taking the test
- Check your vehicle’s gas cap and make sure it’s not broken. Keep the sealing surfaces in the cap clean so it can make a good seal
- If a vehicle’s battery is brand new, drive the vehicle for a couple of days before taking it to get an On Board Diagnostics test so as to allow the OBD system to reset
- Make sure the vehicle’s oil is not dirty. Get the oil changed on a routine basis
- Maintain the recommended air pressure in your vehicle’s tires
- Inspect your vehicle’s hoses and belts for wear. Get them replaced if necessary
- Get any mechanical issues with your vehicle’s transmission address and fixed. Transmissions problems can affect your vehicle’s emissions and cause your vehicle to fail its test.
- If your motor vehicle’s emissions system has a mechanical issue, check your manufacturer’s warranty. Federal law states emissions systems on vehicles made in the 1995 and newer model years must have their emissions systems warrantied for two years or 24,000 miles.
- If the OBDII diagnostic system or catalytic converter on your vehicle made in the 1995 model year or newer has a mechanical issue, check your vehicle’s manufacturer’s warranty also. Federal regulation states these vehicles must have a warranty on their OBDII and catalytic converters for eight years or 80,000 miles.
Find Smog Check Stations Near Me
To stay in compliance of the State of Illinois’s smog check requirements, Illinois-registered drivers required to get their vehicle’s to pass a vehicle emissions test can check out our DMV & Emissions Testing Locations in Illinois pages below to find a DMV office or testing location in your area.
Smog Check Stations in Chicago, Illinois
The city of Chicago, in Cook county, Illinois, has a population of 2.7 million and is Illinois’s largest city. Illinois-registered drivers with vehicle’s that require testing and living in or around Chicago must get their vehicle’s to pass an emissions inspection. Check out our DMV & Emissions Testing Locations in Cook County, Illinois page to find a DMV office or testing location in your area.
Smog Check Stations in Aurora, Illinois
The city of Aurora, in Kane county, Illinois, and has a population of 201,000. Aurora is the second largest city in the state. Illinois-registered drivers with vehicle’s that require testing and living in Aurora may have to get their vehicle’s to pass an emissions inspection. Check out our DMV & Emissions Testing Locations in Kane County, Illinois page to find a DMV office or testing location in your area.
Smog Check Stations in Joliet, Illinois
The city of Joliet, in Will county, Illinois, has a population of 148,000. Illinois-registered drivers with vehicle’s that require testing, and living in or around Will county may have to get their vehicle’s to pass an emissions inspection. Check out our DMV & Emissions Testing Locations in Will County, Illinois page to find a DMV office or testing location in your area.