Massachusetts Smog Check / Emissions Test
The state of Massachusetts requires all vehicles to pass a vehicle safety inspection and vehicle emissions test annually. Massachusetts set up its emissions testing program with the intent of improving the air quality as well as the health of the citizens of Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Registry for Motor Vehicles (RMV) and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection run the program and enforce the testing requirements.
Smog Check Exemptions for Massachusetts Drivers
All Massachusetts vehicles must pass a safety inspection. However, the following types of vehicles are exempt from smog checks:
- Cars, trucks and SUVs made in the 2000 model year or earlier but do not emit smoke
- Diesel vehicles weighing less than 8,500 lbs and made before the 2003 and/or are over 15 years old
- Diesel vehicles weighing up to 10,000 lbs and made before the 2007 model year and/or are over 15 years old
- Non-diesel medium duty vehicles made before the 2008 model year and/or are more than 15 years old
- New vehicles
- Mopeds, motorcycles and tactical military vehicles
- Electric vehicles
- Construction equipment, such as: articulated loaders, backhoes, bulldozers, cranes, excavators, loaders, and pavers (This does not include pickups or vehicles owned by construction companies driven on MA roadways (i.e. semis, dump trucks, cement trucks, etc.)
- Tracked vehicles
- All-terrain vehicles
- Military vehicles
- Tractors and off-road farm equipment (does not include pickups or vehicles with farm registration plates driven on MA roadways)
Note: Passenger vehicles (cars, trucks, SUVs) made in the 2003 model year or earlier do not have to pass a tailpipe emissions test, but must still pass an OBDII test, if applicable. Keep in mind a vehicle can not pass a safety test if the vehicle emits visible smoke coming from its tailpipe.
Smog Check Fees
The State of Massachusetts charges a $35 fee for state vehicle emissions tests. Vehicle owners must pay the fee at the time of their scheduled test. The first retest a vehicle does after failing its original smog check is free if the vehicle gets tested at the same emissions testing station. If the vehicle gets retested at a different station than where it got its original test, the owner must pay the $35 fee test fee.
Performing Emissions Testing in Massachusetts
The Massachusetts Registry for Motor Vehicles (RMV) recommends that vehicle owners get their vehicle tested during the first half of the month in order to avoid long lines and wait times that typically occur during the latter part of the month.
There are more than 1900 testing locations throughout the state. Massachusetts emissions testing locations post the hours when they do inspections. When going to get your vehicle tested, remember to bring your vehicle’s registration and testing fee, and call ahead to find out what payment methods the inspection station accepts.
On Board Diagnostic Tests – The Massachusetts RMV will administer an ODBII test on most motor vehicles made in the 2000 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 Massachusetts RMV 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.
If your vehicle falls under one of the following categories, it will have to pass an On-Board Diagnostic Test:
- Passenger cars, trucks and SUVs that are newer than 2000 year models
- Medium-duty vehicles that are newer than 2008 year models
- Light duty diesel vehicles that weight less than 8,500 pounds and are newer than 2000 year models
- Medium duty diesel vehicles weighing between 8,501 and 14,000 pounds and are newer than 2007 year models
- Medium duty diesel vehicles weighing between 8,501 and 14,000 pounds and are newer than 2008 year models
Opacity Test – Some diesel vehicles that do not have an OBDII system installed on them must pass an exhaust opacity test. Massachusetts test personnel use a special diagnostic tool to measure the clarity of a diesel vehicle’s exhaust to see how much pollutants and particulate matter the vehicle emits. If your vehicle falls under one of the following category, it will have to pass an Exhaust Opacity Test:
- Medium and heavy duty diesel vehicles that weigh more than 10,000 pounds and are not equipped with OBD systems.
After a vehicle completes an emissions test, an emissions inspector will print out a sticker for the vehicle and provide a Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR). The report states whether the vehicle passed or failed the test, and lists what issues, if any, require the owner’s attention. The State of Massachusetts has set up Motorist Assistance Centers (MACs) in order to help vehicle owners identify any issues or problems with their vehicles in the event that it fails its initial emissions inspection.
Note: For motorist required to get a Federal DOT inspections and a State of Massachusetts inspection, if a vehicle passes a Massachusetts vehicle emissions inspection then the vehicle automatically will meet the federal DOT inspection requirements. The paperwork the owner receives after their vehicle passes the emissions inspection is proof that it can met the DOT requirements.
Note: Vehicles manufactured prior to the 1998 model year no longer have to pass a tailpipe emissions test. These vehicles will fail a safety inspection if there is smoke coming from their tailpipes though.
Failed Smog Inspections – Next Steps
If a vehicle does not pass its smog check then there are a few steps owners must follow get their vehicle repaired and retested within sixty days from the date the vehicle failed its inspection.
The VIR the owner receives after the smog check will have notes on what areas of the test their vehicle failed and require being addressed. When getting the vehicle repaired, the owner must bring the VIR with to give to the repair technician. The VIR pinpoints the area(s) the technician needs further investigate. Massachusetts vehicle owners can print off copies of their vehicle’s VIR from the Massachusetts vehicle test webpage.
Massachusetts Smog Check Waiver – vehicle owners who complete repairs on their vehicle and still do not pass its emissions test standards may be able to apply and receive a waiver. In order to be considered for a waiver, applicants must meet the following requirements:
- Vehicle owners must get repairs completed by a Certified Emissions Repair Technician
- The vehicle’s repair costs, including materials and labor, must meet the following expenditure minimum levels:
- Vehicles made in the past 5 years: $880,
- Vehicles made between 6 to 10 years ago: $780.
- Vehicles made at least 10 years ago: $680.
- There can be no evidence of tampering to the vehicle’s emissions control system
- The vehicle must have passed its vehicle safety inspection in the last 60 days.
- The vehicle’s OBDII system must:
- Be able to connect and communicate successfully with a testing location’s diagnostic computer
- The vehicle’s OBDII system must be able to finish its self-checks on the vehicle’s emissions control system
- The vehicle’s OBDII system must not throw any trouble codes stating issues with its emissions control components, like: catalytic converter failure, engine misfires, or with the energy storage components (hybrid vehicles only).
Vehicle owners must provide the following when applying for a waiver:
- The repair shop’s dated receipts and work orders stating the type of work completed on the vehicle
- The VIR from the vehicle’s initial smog inspections and any reinspections
- A completed and signed Emissions Repair Form from the CERT repair technician who completed the repairs on the vehicle (The technician can complete the form online)
Call the Motorist Assistance Center at (866) 941-6277 to schedule an appointment to apply for an emissions waiver (Using the requirements listed above, vehicle owners must pre-qualify before they can get an appointment). Remember, vehicle owners must present all the required documents listed above before they can be considered for a waiver. The Massachusetts RMV can suspend a vehicle owner’s registration if they do not meet the requirements for an emissions waiver, do not pass a retest within 60 days of the initial test, or fail their initial test.
Low Income? Apply for a Massachusetts Economic Hardship Extension
If a vehicle requires major repairs in order to pass a Massachusetts vehicle emissions, vehicle owners may be eligible for a Massachusetts Economic Hardship Extension if they meet certain economic criteria.
In order for a vehicle owner to meet the extension criteria, they must:
- Their vehicle must have passed a safety test, or retest within a 60 day timeframe
- Completed any emissions-related repairs that kept the vehicle from passing the initial emissions test
- Provide an estimate for the repair costs from a certified emissions repair technician (If a CERT refers the vehicle to a speciality shop for repairs, make sure to get a formal referral from the CERT) .
- The vehicle owner must meet the minimum expenditure thresholds to qualify for an extensions:
- $1320 for vehicles 5 years old or less
- $1170 for vehicles 6 to 10 years old
- $1020 for vehicle 10 years old or older
For vehicles that qualify, the owner will receive a 1 year sticker so they can legally operate the vehicle while they save money to pay for emissions-related repairs before the next inspection deadline.
To schedule an appointment to apply for an extension with the Motorist Assistant Center (MAC) call (866) 941-6277. Make sure to bring your VIR and repair estimates to MAC personnel. If MAC personnel okay the extension, the owner will receive permissions to take the vehicle back to the original test facility to get a passing inspection sticker. If the owner does not qualify for an extension, MAC personnel will provide the vehicle owner with additional options. If a vehicle owner does not qualify for a hardship extension or pass a vehicle emissions retest within 60 days of failing the initial test, the owners registration will get suspended by the RMV.
Note: The RMV does not provide hardship extensions to commercial vehicles, along with vehicles tested because of a title transfer. Call the Motorist Assistance Center at (866) 941-6277 to receive more information about hardship requirements.
Moved to Massachusetts – Smog Check Requirements
The State of Massachusetts requires new residents to register their vehicles with the Massachusetts RMV. After getting registered, they have 7 days to get their vehicle to pass a safety inspection and emissions test so their vehicle can get stickered.
Special Tips to Pass the Massachusetts Emissions Test
Massachusetts vehicle owners may want to get their vehicles 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, planning early will give owners time to meet the deadline. Here are some tips to keep in mind to ensure passing a Massachusetts 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 sure the gas cap is on tight and is not broken. Keep the sealing surfaces in the cap clean so it can make a good seal. 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
- 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 Massachusetts’s smog check requirements, Massachusetts-registered drivers required to get their vehicles to pass a vehicle emissions test can check out our DMV & Emissions Testing Locations in Massachusetts page to find a DMV office or testing location in your area.
Smog Check Stations in Boston, Massachusetts
The city of Boston, in Suffolk county, Massachusetts, has a population of 673,000 and is Massachusetts’s largest city. Massachusetts-registered drivers with vehicles that require testing and living in or around Boston must get their vehicles to pass an emissions inspection. Check out our DMV & Emissions Testing Locations in Boston, Massachusetts page to find a DMV office or testing location in your area.
Smog Check Stations in Worcester, Massachusetts
The city of Worcester, in Worcester county, Massachusetts, and has a population of 184,000. Worcester is the second largest city in the state. Massachusetts-registered drivers with vehicles that require testing and living in Worcester may have to get their vehicles to pass an emissions inspection. Check out our DMV & Emissions Testing Locations in Worcester, Massachusetts page to find a DMV office or testing location in your area.
Smog Check Stations in Springfield, Massachusetts
The city of Springfield, in Hampden county, Massachusetts, has a population of 154,000. Massachusetts-registered drivers with vehicles that require testing, and living in or around Hampden county may have to get their vehicles to pass an emissions inspection. Check out our DMV & Emissions Testing Locations in Springfield, Massachusetts page to find a DMV office or testing location in your area.