Smog and Emissions Testing in Colorado
All car owners who reside in Colorado must undergo a regular vehicle inspection by the DMV. Vehicle emissions testing is a part of the inspection in some counties and its purpose is to ensure that cars on the road are not emitting a high level of smog. Passing emissions testing is mandatory for vehicles that are required to have the inspection. The emission test requirements in CO differ depending on the vehicle's model year and fuel type. Review the following sections for further information:
- Colorado emissions and smog check requirements
- Smog check exemptions in Colorado
- Out-of-state emissions testing in Colorado
- Emissions waivers in Colorado
- Testing fees in Colorado
- Where to perform an emissions check in Colorado
- Failing a Colorado smog and emissions check
Colorado Emissions and Smog Check Requirements
The emission test requirements in Colorado generally vary depending on the car's model year and fuel type. The type of vehicle inspection given will be contingent on these factors, and each have similar but different criteria. There are five different types of smog checks that are administered in CO:
- Onboard diagnostics (OBD).
- Two-speed idle test.
- I/M 240 dynamometer (treadmill) test.
- RapidScreen Roadside test.
- Diesel emissions test.
The OBD emissions test is given to gasoline-fueled vehicles that are eight to 11 years old, or hybrid vehicles that are eight years or older. The OBD smog check standards for hybrid vehicles are the same as gasoline-powered vehicles. Using this method of auto emissions testing, vehicles that display the "check engine" light will automatically fail the inspection.
The vehicle inspection for vehicles that are at least twelve years old but has a model year no older than 1982 will include the I/M 240 dynamometer test. It is possible to pass the treadmill smog test even if the "check engine" indicator is on. Gasoline fueled cars that have a model year of 1981 or older will undergo the two-speed idle test.
The DMV smog test for vehicles that let off very little emissions is the RapidScreen Roadside test. The car smoke test for these types of vehicles do not require the car to be taken for a physical inspection. Independent smog certification providers need to be sought for diesel vehicle owners, as the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment does not administer auto emissions testing to diesel-powered vehicles.
Smog Check Exemptions in Colorado
Auto emissions testing in Colorado is not required for all vehicles. Smog certification is only needed in certain counties within Colorado, particularly those that are at risk for high smog levels. Even within these counties, the DMV smog check is not mandatory for all vehicles.
A smog inspection in CO is only needed regularly in a few select counties. Residents living outside of these counties are not subject to Colorado emissions testing, except in very special cases. Car owners living outside of the following counties generally are not required to undergo a smog inspection:
- Boulder County
- Broomfield County
- Denver County
- Douglas County
- Jefferson County
- Some parts of Adams, Arapahoe, Larimer, and Weld County
Emissions testing in Colorado is not required if the vehicle is:
- A motorcycle, farm vehicle, moped or horseless carriage
- Seven model years old or less
- A collector's vehicle with the model year of 1975 or older
- Completely run by electric power (hybrid vehicles are not completely run by electricity)
Out-of-State Emissions Testing in Colorado
The regular emissions testing requirement for Colorado residents is still mandatory even if the car owner is living in another state temporarily. Conveniently, auto emissions testing can be done outside of CO, with a little extra paperwork.
Legal Colorado residents who need to take a car emissions test must first find a smog test provider in the temporary place of residence. If this region does not offer smog certification and testing, the inspection may be done by any law enforcement officer.
Once the vehicle inspection is completed, the car owner must send the test results to the Colorado DMV with a completed Application for an Affidavit of Emissions Extension (Form DR 2376). If the car smoke test was performed in a state that does not offer DMV smog checks, a Verification of Vehicle Identification Number (Form 2698) must also be included.
Emissions Waivers in Colorado
Car owners are eligible for a waiver from CO DMV emissions testing in some special cases. Car owners who have taken the car emission test and failed may be waived from the inspection if they have spent more than $715 in professional auto repairs necessary to pass the test. If the car model year is 1967 or older and did not pass the safety and emissions inspection, the owner must spend more than $75 in emission repairs to be eligible for the waiver. The waiver is valid for one inspection.
A waiver for Colorado emissions testing may also be given to people experiencing economic hardship. The car emission test waiver may be awarded to car owners who are enrolled in a financial aid program to pay for emissions test repairs and do not have any other means of transportation. There is no minimum amount of smog test repairs that need to be made on the failed vehicle to qualify for the waiver.
Testing Fees in Colorado
The smog check price in CO varies depending on the model year of the car. Most cars on the road will need to pay a $25 fee for auto emissions testing, while others may subject to different prices. Also, owners of diesel powered cars will be subject to whatever emissions check price is quoted at the Diesel Emission Testing Center.
For emissions testing in Colorado, the cost of inspecting a gasoline powered car that was manufactured in 1982 or later is $25. Gasoline fueled cars with a model year prior to 1982 will need a smog check more frequently at $15 each inspection. Diesel-powered cars must go to a special Diesel Emission Testing Center for a vehicle inspection, which charge prices independent of state government fees. Diesel testing centers can charge up to one labor hour of service.
Where to Perform an Emissions Check in Colorado
There are several emissions testing locations throughout Colorado, serving cities such as Denver, Boulder, Castle Rock, Fort Collins and many more. All smog check stations are open Monday through Friday, from 8:00 am until 5:30 pm and on Saturdays from 8:00 am until 1:00 pm. None of the emissions testing centers are open on Sundays or holidays.
Each location is an official Colorado DMV smog check provider and have licensed professionals conducting the tests. Inspectors at smog check clinics are licensed and certified to perform car smoke tests on many different types of vehicles. Each employee will give the appropriate emissions inspection depending on the make and model of the vehicle.
Failing a Colorado Smog and Emissions Check
The purpose of Colorado emissions testing is to make sure that no car on the road is giving off a dangerously high level of smog. Not every car that undergoes the smog inspection will pass the test, especially if the car is older and has never been inspected before.
The first step of taking care of a failed DMV smog check in CO is to determine why the vehicle did not pass. The reason for a failed emissions test can be found in the Vehicle Inspection Report which is given to the car owner after the inspection. Common reasons for failing include having a "check engine" indicator on, emitting too much carbon dioxide, the gas cap not functioning properly, or the smoke from the tailpipe being thicker than acceptable standards.
Next, the car owner can resolve the safety and emissions issue by going to a repair facility. The Vehicle Inspection Report will have a list of well-known repair providers, but the car owner can take the vehicle to any reputable auto shop. The specific issues that prevented the vehicle from passing the car emissions test in Colorado should be addressed. When the problems are fixed, the car owner can return to the vehicle emissions test provider for a retest.