Smog and Emissions Testing in Massachusetts
In 2008, the state developed an enhanced Massachusetts vehicle inspection program called the Massachusetts Vehicle Check. As part of the annual emissions inspection program, the state tests vehicles for safety and smog, in accordance with the model year. In most cases, vehicles must undergo emissions testing in addition to a safety inspection if the vehicle was manufactured after 2001. If a vehicle fails its smog check or safety inspection, vehicle owners must make all necessary repairs before retesting the vehicle at the original testing center. To learn more about vehicle emissions testing in MA, review the sections below.
Massachusetts Emissions and Smog Check Requirements
Drivers must complete a car inspection in Massachusetts once per year before the inspection due date. Additionally, a smog test is a requirement of vehicle model years 2001 and newer. Both safety and emissions tests are overseen by the Vehicle Safety and Compliance Services Department under the state Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). While all vehicles must undergo a safety inspection, only certain vehicle model years must undergo a test for emissions. Currently, there are two different emissions tests which vehicles must undergo:
- On-board diagnostic test (OBD) - for passenger vehicles newer than model year 2003 and with a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 8,500 lbs and medium-duty diesel vehicles newer than year 2007 and with a gross vehicle weight rating of between 8,501 and 14,000 lbs. Additionally, an OBD emissions inspection is a requirement for medium-duty non-diesel vehicles newer than 2008 and with a gross vehicle weight rating of between 8,501 and 14,000 lbs.
- Opacity test - for medium and heavy-duty diesel vehicles without a built-in OBD system and with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 lbs.
Additionally, a vehicle safety inspection is a requirement for all cars in the state. A safety inspection includes the following 14 tests and takes approximately 12 minutes to complete:
- A visual overview of the vehicle's registration certificate, vehicle identification number and license plates.
- Parking and service brake tests.
- Exhaust system tests.
- Steering and suspension testing.
- Horn sound.
- Windshield wipers, glazing and glass.
- Rear view mirror.
- Lighting devices.
- Tires and wheels.
- Bumpers, fuel tank and fenders.
- Seat belts.
- Fuel tank cap>
- Altered vehicle height.
Note: If your vehicle fails its safety or emissions test, you may challenge the results by completing an Inspection Station Complaint Form and mailing it to the RMV.
Smog Check Exemptions in Massachusetts
All vehicles must undergo a vehicle safety inspection, but certain vehicles are exempt from the smog portion of the test. Vehicles exempt from Massachusetts emissions testing include new vehicles (for up to one year of the sale or lease date), electric vehicles, diesel vehicles older than model year 1984, tactical military vehicles and motorcycles or motorized bicycles. Additional vehicles with smog test exemptions include the following: diesel vehicles older than 15 years of age or manufactured before 1997 and diesel vehicles manufactured before 2007 with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 lbs.
Out-of-State Emissions Testing in Massachusetts
If you will be out of state when your safety and MA car smoke test is due, you have two options for completing the inspection: You may complete your car inspection before you leave the state, or you may complete the test from out of state if the state issues these types of inspections. If you complete a smog inspection from another state, you must submit your vehicle for an inspection within 15 days of returning to Massachusetts, or within three days if you cannot complete the test from out of state.
Note: To complete a safety and smog test from out of state, you must complete an Out-of-State Verification for Vehicle Inspection Form (T21307). You must submit the form to the following address:
Vehicle Safety and Compliance Services
P.O. Box 55892
Boston, MA 02205-5892
Emissions Waivers in Massachusetts
If a non-commercial vehicle fails its Massachusetts car emission test, the vehicle owner may be eligible for a Waiver of Emissions Standards for the smog portion of the test, but not the safety inspection. The DMV emissions testing waiver remains valid until the vehicle's next annual inspection. However, vehicle owners must make emissions-related car repairs before they may qualify for a waiver. To obtain a smog inspection waiver, car owners must spend at least $880 on repairs for vehicle models newer than five years of age, $780 for vehicles between six and 10 years of age or $680 on repairs for vehicle models older than 10 years of age.
Alternately, drivers who fail their emissions check may request an Economic Hardship Repair Extension if the vehicle needs to undergo costly emissions-related repairs before it can pass an inspection. The Repair Extension provides drivers with a one-year extension to help them save money for making repairs or finding a replacement vehicle. However, vehicle owners cannot request an extension for the safety portion of the inspection. Furthermore, emissions test repairs must be at least $1,320 for vehicle models five years of age or newer, $1,170 for vehicle models between five and 10 years of age and $1,020 for vehicle models older than 10 years of age.
Note: To obtain a smog testing waiver or exemption, vehicle owners must visit a Motorist Assistance Center (MAC) to submit all repair and inspection records.
Testing Fees in Massachusetts
The Massachusetts smog check price is $35 annually for non-commercial vehicles, which includes the annual safety inspection. The emission test cost is $35 annually in addition to the cost of labor for commercial vehicles. Drivers must perform semi-annual 7D car inspections for $35 (for vehicles used to transport students), in addition to the annual non-commercial inspection fee of $35. However, motorcycle safety inspections are $15 annually.
Where to Perform an Emissions Check in Massachusetts
To complete a safety and emissions inspection, you must visit any of the 1,900 licensed emissions testing stations located throughout the state. Each MA emissions testing center accepts vehicles based on the vehicle's type, gross vehicle weight rating and chassis, so it is important to find an inspection station based on your vehicle's specific class.
Failing an Massachusetts Smog and Emissions Test
If a vehicle fails its safety and smog test, vehicle owners must perform all necessary car repairs before the vehicle may undergo a retest. In most cases, vehicles fail their MA smog certification test for the following reasons:
- The engine misfires.
- Issues with the catalytic converters.
- Poor-fitting gas caps and evaporative controls.
- Issues with exhaust gas recirculation valves.
- Malfunctioning components that regulate the air and fuel ratio.
If a vehicle fails its DMV smog check, car owners must bring the vehicle to a Registered Emissions Repair Shop or MAC to perform all emissions-related repairs. Smog testing MACs are available in the following areas: Beverly; Fall River; Hyde Park; Shrewsbury; Bourne; Fitchburg; Medford; Tewksbury; Braintree Framingham; Pittsfield and West Springfield. When getting repairs to meet emission test requirements, car owners must provide the repair technician with the Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) and Emissions Repair Form (if applicable). Motorists who receive an emissions testing repair form must have the repair technician complete the form and the driver must submit it during the retest.
Note: Drivers who complete all emission test repairs within 60 days of the initial inspection will receive one free retest at the original testing facility. Drivers must pay a fee for any additional inspections. Additionally, drivers must retain all repair-related receipts in the vehicle until passing the inspection.