Emissions testing is required for many different kinds of vehicles in Arizona. Emissions testing locations within the state perform multiple exams on vehicles to verify that they are safe to operate in the environment before a car registration renewal. Learn about the importance of completing an AZ smog check, whether or not your vehicle is required to undergo testing, and how you can find a smog test station in your area by reviewing the details below.

Arizona Emissions and Smog Check Requirements

Emission test requirements are established by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) through the Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program (VEIP). Currently, checks are done by performing four types of emissions tests:

  • IM147 test – a vehicle exhaust smog test that replicates the experience of driving in urban areas (typically used in Phoenix for light gasoline vehicles manufactured between 1981 and 1995)
  • Steady-state loaded/idle test – an idle exam that tests the vehicle at 25-30 mph (typically used in Tucson for vehicles manufactured between 1967 and 1995 and in Phoenix for vehicles manufactured between 1967 and 1980, including various heavy-duty vehicles that run on gasoline.)
  • Onboard diagnostics test – a control system exam designed to find problems in a vehicle before they cause emission issues or engine failure (only for light vehicles manufactured in 1996 or later.)
  • Diesel test – a car smoke test that evaluates the density of a diesel vehicle’s exhaust

Note: A visual smog certification test known as “tampering” may also be performed on an inspected vehicle in order to make sure that the car manufacturer included certain components such as the operational air pump, the catalytic converter and the evaporative control system.

To perform a vehicle inspection if your car has been registered in Arizona for longer than 1 year, you must bring payment to cover the emissions test cost, the first inspection report with applicable repair details (if your vehicle failed the initial test) and a key for locking your gas tank. If your car needs to undergo testing but has not yet been registered in AZ, you will also need to submit the bill of sale or previous year’s car registration or title.

Smog Check Exemptions in Arizona

Emissions inspections in Arizona are typically not required for vehicles that were manufactured in the last 5 years, though this does not include specially constructed or reconstructed cars. Furthermore, AZ emissions testing center visits are not compulsory for cars that are not registered in the emissions control area.

In any case, if a vehicle is driven within an emission control area on a regular basis (i.e. for work or school), even if it is not registered in the control area, it will need to be tested for emissions per Arizona law. Certain ZIP codes are considered “partial” in that a portion of the area is required to undergo testing, and the registration renewal forms for the vehicles that require testing will reflect this need with the following inclusion, “Emissions Test Required.”

Out-of-State Emissions Testing in Arizona

If the time for Arizona safety and emissions testing comes while you are out of state, you have two options to choose from to obtain an out-of-state exemption. First off, you can complete testing in another state if the area you are currently in has an inspection program and submit proof of passing the smog test to the Vehicle Emissions Control Section of Phoenix or Tucson (based on your area of residence) with payment for the $9.50 fee.

Then, you will receive acknowledgment of your safety and emissions test exemption, which you must mail to the Motor Vehicle Division in Arizona with your registration renewal application. Otherwise, if you are in a state that does not have an inspection program, you must simply complete an exemption application and send the form to the Vehicle Emissions Control Section of your area with the $9.50 fee.

Out-of-state vehicle inspection exemptions last for either 1 or 2 years, based on whether the car underwent an examination in another location and the type of test that was completed.

Note: Out-of-state military testing exemptions are available to service members stationed outside of Arizona if their in-state vehicles are not being used. If other drivers are using the vehicle, the standard out-of-state exemption applies. In both cases, military members must complete the vehicle inspection application form and obtain the signature of their commanding officer.

Emissions Waivers in Arizona

Safety and emissions waivers are only available to vehicles in Arizona once. After a car is given a waiver, it may never receive a second. Cars with vehicle emissions testing waivers must pass inspection during the next registration cycle, as waivers only last for a single cycle period.

The AZ smog certification waiver allows the driver to register his or her car without additional repairs, as long as the following requirements are met:

  • The vehicle must fail the smog test two or more times within the current cycle period.
  • The vehicle’s issue must be determined.
  • The vehicle must undergo a smog tune-up.
  • The car must be taken to the waiver facility with payment for the $15 fee, the most recent failed exam report and a repair estimate or receipt (if the repair was completed up to 60 days before the waiver request).
  • Further car repairs to improve the vehicle’s emission issues must exceed the maximum state-established limit, which is based on how old the vehicle is and where it is registered).

Arizona emissions testing station waivers cannot be granted to vehicles that have had control equipment modified, broken or taken out, or to vehicles that release more than twice the acceptable standard for smog. Smog check waivers also cannot be issued to vehicles with catalytic converter problems.

Testing Fees in Arizona

The smog check price in Arizona varies based on two factors: how often the driver undergoes the exam and where the exam is completed. The emission test cost in Phoenix, for example, is between $16 and $25, depending on whether the exam is completed every year or every other year. In Tucson, the fee is $12.25, regardless of how often the exam is completed.

Where to Perform an Emissions Check in Arizona

Arizona emissions testing is available in two cities within the state: Phoenix and Tucson. Phoenix, Arizona offers testing at 17 separate locations, while Tucson provides car smoke tests at three stations.

All but the Renaissance DMV emissions testing station in Tucson offer onboard diagnostics (OBD) express lanes, which offer faster service to gasoline vehicles that were manufactured in 1996 or later and have a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 8500 (not including bi-fueled cars).

Note: Review the smog check history of your desired inspection station before visiting, as certain locations have vehicle length restrictions, and few can accommodate trucks that are more than 13 feet high.

Failing an Arizona Smog and Emissions Test

A vehicle that fails a smog test in AZ will not be repaired by the inspection station. Inspection stations merely test the vehicles. If your vehicle fails the car emission test, you must take it to any available service facility in order to have the required repairs done before you can get emissions approval. If the failed vehicle is tested within 60 days of the original DMV smog check, the retest will be free of charge.

Last updated on Tuesday, March 10 2020.