In most cases, automobiles must undergo a vehicle inspection in Delaware whenever a car owner is titling a vehicle in the state for the first time, as well as during the vehicle’s registration renewal period. Since the emissions testing program works to identify vehicles that exceed evaporative emissions and exhaust standards, drivers cannot register their vehicle until it meets state standards. For this reason, the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) conducts approximately 400,000 inspections per year.

Generally, an emissions testing center inspects the vehicle for safety, emissions and fuel system leaks. However, exemptions may apply if the vehicle is new or was manufactured before 1967. To learn more about emissions inspections in DE, review the information below.

Delaware Emissions and Smog Check Requirements

The type of smog test performed at an inspection station depends on the vehicle’s type and model year. For instance, a car inspection includes an idle test for vehicle model years between 1968 and 1980, or a two-speed test for model years between 1981 and 1995. Other Delaware emissions inspections include an On-Board Diagnostic (OBDII) for vehicles manufactured after 1995 that are at least 5 model years old.

To test a vehicle’s fuel system for leaks, certain vehicles in the counties of Kent and New Castle may need a pressure test performed if the car was manufactured after 1975 and weighs less than 8,500 pounds. Additionally, automobiles must undergo a vehicle inspection for safety purposes, which checks the vehicle’s windows, tires and brakes.

When visiting an emissions testing station, motorists must provide the DMV with a current vehicle registration card and proof of auto insurance. Drivers must turn off all vehicle accessories and shift the car into park or neutral before entering the inspection facility. Furthermore, DE smog check stations do not permit smoking or cell phone usage in the inspection lanes, and inspection facilities do not allow pets of any kind.

Smog Check Exemptions in Delaware

Drivers are exempt from vehicle emissions testing in Delaware if they meet the following two qualifications: The passenger vehicle is older than the model year 1967 or the vehicle was manufactured within the last 5 years and weighs less than 10,000 lbs. Additionally, vehicles are exempt from testing if the vehicle is a motorcycle or a diesel-fueled vehicle manufactured before 1997.

Note: Even if a vehicle is exempt from testing, it may still require a vehicle identification number (VIN) verification.

Out-of-State Emissions Testing in Delaware

Military personnel or college students may complete an emissions test while out-of-state by contacting the DMV Registration Correspondence Section to request an Out-of-State Inspection Packet. After receiving the inspection packet, drivers must complete the safety and emissions test through an out-of-state mechanic or car dealership.

After performing the car smoke test and safety inspection, the inspector must endorse the paperwork and the vehicle owner must return the paperwork by mailing the packet to the DMV using the address provided on the form. Drivers must submit all documentation along with a state insurance card, a photocopy of their driver license and payment for all applicable fees (such as registration renewal fees).

Note: You may perform an out-of-state safety and emissions check if you are further than 250 miles from a DMV location.

Emissions Waivers in Delaware

Drivers may obtain a DMV emissions testing waiver if they meet certain qualifications. However, drivers cannot obtain a waiver for the safety or fuel system portion of the test. To qualify for a vehicle smog testing waiver, automobiles must meet the following conditions:

  • Have undergone emissions inspection two or more times and failed, even after completing all necessary repairs.
  • The engine parameters are set to the manufacturer’s conditions.
  • The vehicle failed the test for reasons other than missing emissions control equipment or visible smoke.
  • The vehicle met the repair cost limit of $75 (for vehicle models between 1968 and 1980).
  • The vehicle met the repair cost limit of $879 (for vehicles in Kent or New Castle County with model years of 1981 and newer) or $200 (for vehicles in Sussex County with model years of 1981 and newer).
  • The driver can provide the DMV technician with all Vehicle Inspection Reports (VIR) and repair receipts.

Note: A Delaware Certified Repair Technician must perform the smog test repairs for the parts and labor to apply toward the labor limit. If a non-certified technician repairs the vehicle, only a portion of the repairs goes toward the waiver limit.

Testing Fees in Delaware

There is no fee to complete a smog inspection in Delaware if drivers perform the inspection before the test due date. Vehicle owners may find a smog test station and complete a test up to 90 days before a vehicle is set to expire. However, the smog check price increases to $20 if motorists fail to complete a car inspection before the vehicle’s registration renewal date.

Where to Perform an Emissions Check in Delaware

To perform a DMV smog check and safety inspection, vehicle owners must visit one of the four testing locations in the state before the test date has passed. Residents may complete their inspection at any of the DMV branches in New Castle, Kent or Sussex County. All four of the full-service DMV facilities include a smog check station, for a total of 21 test lanes.

Failing a Delaware Smog and Emissions Test

A vehicle must pass its safety and emissions inspection before drivers may renew registration documents for the vehicle. For this reason, drivers with vehicles that fail a Delaware emission check must perform all necessary car repairs before retesting the vehicle at no additional charge. A vehicle must receive a satisfactory smog certification before the DMV can renew the vehicle’s registration.

Last updated on Tuesday, March 10 2020.