Washington Smog Check / Emissions Test
The State of Washington requires non-exempt gas and diesel vehicles registered in eligible counties to pass an vehicle emissions test before obtaining their original tabs and then again every two years. New residents must adhere to the same requirements. If a vehicle’s tabs have expired while the vehicle is in the process of completing emissions-related repairs, vehicle owners can obtain temporary tabs until they can get the vehicle to pass an emissions test.
Requirements to Pass the Washington Smog Check
If a vehicle owner has a non-exempt vehicle registered in one of the following counties, the vehicle must pass a smog check before getting registered in the State of Washington:
Certain zip codes within the above counties are exempt however. To find out if your zip code is exempt, check the following Emission Check Area ZIP Codes list to see your vehicle has to pass an emissions smog check.
Military personnel that fall under one of the following categories must comply with federal law and get their vehicle tested as well:
- Uses their vehicle on a military base
- Lives or stationed inside a Washington emissions testing area
- Lives and/or drives in the State of Washington 60 days or more days during the year
Consult your military base for further information.
Smog Check Exemptions for Washington Drivers
If a vehicle falls into one of the following categories, it does not need to pass a smog check:
- Electric vehicles
- Gasoline vehicles made in the 2009 model year or newer model year
- Hybrid vehicles with a rating of 50 miles per gallon or more in the city
- Clean fuel vehicles (Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Electric, Solar, Propane)
- Gasoline vehicles older than 25 years
- Motor-driven cycles
- Street rods
- Farm vehicles
- Vehicles sold from a Washington automotive dealer
- Collectible vehicles (Owners must fill out and submit a Collectible Vehicle Certification for Emission Test Exemption (Form TD-420-810).
- Diesel vehicles weighing less than 6000 pounds and are older than 2007
- Diesel vehicles that are newer than 2007
Out-of-Area Exemptions: Vehicle owners out of the area during the time of their smog check due date, may be eligible for a temporary out-of-area exemption. Vehicle owners can fill out and submit the Out-of-Area Emission Test Application (Form ECY 020-09) and mail it to the address on their tabs renewal notice.
Smog Check Fees
The State of Washington allows inspection stations to set smog check fees. The Washington DMV encourages vehicle owners to call and shop around.
Performing Emissions Testing in Washington
Residents can get an emissions test for their vehicle 365 days before the due date on their tab renewal notice sent to them by the Washington DMV in the mail. Emissions tests must be completed every two years.
To complete an inspection, owners must drive their vehicle to an Applus or other authorized testing facility, and pay a testing fee. If paying by check, the vehicle owner must provide a photo ID. Applus and other authorized testing facilities accept cash. (Bills under $50) Once the vehicle owner completes the inspection process they will receive a decal for the vehicle’s windshield. The vehicle owners will also receive a Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) stating whether the vehicle passed or failed its inspection, and provide details about the emissions-related repairs the vehicle owner must address before getting the vehicle retested. The results get transmitted to the Washington DMV electronically within two hours. This lets vehicle owners to renew their tabs quickly.
On Board Diagnostic Tests: Washington test personnel administer an ODBII test on most gasoline motor vehicles made in the 1996 or newer model years, or diesel vehicles made in the 1997 model year or newer model years registered in one of the eligible Washington counties. 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”. Certain 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. A Washington test technician can check your vehicle’s engine and emissions systems, and see if any monitors state a “Not Ready” status. The test personnel can complete the test in around 2 minutes.
Failed Smog Inspections – Next Steps
Vehicles that do not pass their smog inspections must get their emissions – related repairs completed by a certified repair facility and be reinspected. Vehicle owners will also receive a Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) which will state whether the vehicle passed or failed its inspection and detail the emissions-related repairs the vehicle owner must address before getting the vehicle retested.
The Individual testing facilities set the retesting timeframes and fees. For example, Applus Testing stations grants one free retest within a one-year timeframe after the initial test if the initial test took place at an Applus testing station. If not, the testing fee is $15.
Vehicle owners who get their vehicle repaired and fail a retest may be eligible for a waiver too. If a vehicle owner meets the following criteria, they may qualify for a repair waiver:
- The vehicle owner had the vehicle’s emissions-related repairs completed by an Ecology-Authorized Emissions Specialist (AES) after it failed its initial smog check
- The vehicle owner provides receipts or an itemized work order showing they spent at least $150 in emission – related repairs and the vehicle still did not pass its retest
- The vehicle’s emissions control equipment was not missing or found to be tampered with by testing personnel
Vehicle owners will receive a brochure if their vehicle fails its smog check providing information about waivers and retesting information.
Temporary Permits for Expired Tags: If a vehicle’s tags expire while the vehicle is in the process of getting repaired and retested, the vehicle owner can apply for a temporary expired tab permit. The temporary tab allows the owner to drive the vehicle from their home to a testing station and then to a DMV office. The temporary tab lasts for 3 consecutive days and can be obtained at any Washington DMV office location.
Moved to Washington – Smog Check Requirements
New Washington residents have 30 days to get their vehicle titled and registered after establishing residency. A Washington smog check must be completed before obtaining a vehicle tabs if a new resident moves to Clark, King, Pierce, Snohomish, or Spokane County. Also, be aware that new residents with vehicle’s made in the 2009 model year or newer must meet California’s vehicle emissions standards in order to be registered in the State of Washington.
Transferring a Vehicle Title in Washington – Smog Check Needed?
When a vehicle title transfer occurs the new owner will need to get the vehicle to pass a smog check. Residents who receive a new vehicle have 15 days to get the vehicle’s title transferred into their name, or they will get fined $50 on the 16th day, and $2 each subsequent day up to a total of $125. If the vehicle has not passed a smog check in the past year, the new owner will have to get the vehicle to pass one before they can get the title transferred and receive new tabs for their vehicle.
Do Sellers Give Buyers a Valid Smog Certificate?
Dealers must get non-exempt vehicles to pass a smog check before selling them. When, buying a vehicle through a private seller, the buyer must get the vehicle to pass a smog check and obtain a valid smog certificate before titling and registering the vehicle in their name.
Special Tips to Pass the Washington Emissions Test
Washington 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 the vehicle’s tabs expires. Also, if a vehicle owner plans to be out of town during the date when their tabs expires, planning early will give owners time to meet the deadline. Here are some tips to keep in mind to ensure passing a Washington 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 Washington’s smog check requirements, Washington-registered drivers must get their vehicles to pass a vehicle emissions test if they live in certain regions of the state. Check out our DMV & Emissions Testing Locations in Washington pages below to find a DMV office or testing location in your area.
Smog Check Stations in Seattle, Washington
The City of Seattle ,in King County, Washington, has a population of 704,000. Washington-registered drivers with vehicles that require testing and living in Seattle must get their vehicles to pass a smog check. Check out our DMV & Emissions Testing Location in Seatle, Washington page to find a DMV office or testing location in your area.
H3: Smog Check Stations in Spokane, Washington
The City of Spokane, in Spokane County, Washington, has a population of 216,000. Washington-registered drivers with vehicles that require testing and living in Spokane must get their vehicles to pass a smog check. Check out our DMV & Emissions Testing Locations in Spokane, Washington page to find a DMV office or testing location in your area.
H3: Smog Check Stations in Tacoma, Washington
The City of Tacoma, in Pierce County Washington, has a population of 211,000. Washington-registered drivers with vehicles that require testing and living in Tacoma must get their vehicles to pass a smog check. Check out our DMV & Emissions Testing Locations in Tacoma, Washington page to find a DMV office or testing location in your area.