Smog and Emissions Testing in Michigan

Emissions testing is not required for Michigan residents to renew a car registration. However, understanding vehicle inspection requirements is beneficial for all drivers in the state. A smog check in Michigan is not required in order to ensure cars are not harming the environment by polluting the air and water. Car emissions increase air toxicity, create haze and contribute to global warming. Performing regular emissions testing in Michigan allows residents to bypass any issues that may arise in the future and keep the air and water in their state clean.

Michigan Emissions and Smog Check Requirements

There are no emission test requirements for vehicles in Michigan, but residents should be aware of these requirements in other U.S. states. A smog test will be required if a Michigan resident moves to another state in the future. These states require cars to pass vehicle emissions testing and maintain a test history adhering to emission standards in order for residents to receive a new car registration.

Residents can use safety and emissions information on the federal and state levels to ensure vehicles are up to standard. Air emission testing is regulated federally by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which may encourage U.S. citizens to perform regular smog certification tests on their vehicles. On a state level, the air quality based on emissions is monitored by the state of Michigan to ensure environmental standards are being maintained.

Smog Check Exemptions in Michigan

Because no emissions testing standards exist for Michigan residents to adhere to, there are no DMV smog check requirements within the state. For out-of-state vehicle emissions testing, residents who meet certain criteria may be allowed to request an extension or exemption on a test date. Acceptable situations vary by state. Exemptions or extensions may be approved for those whose cars are being repaired or are from out of the state. Additionally, Michigan car smoke test exemptions may be given to some students and military members.

Out-of-State Emissions Testing

For states requiring vehicle inspection in order to renew a car registration, the vehicle must meet certain emissions testing standards. Michigan residents should anticipate vehicle emissions testing if they move to a state that requires smog certification. This testing, which varies by state, is based on the type of vehicle and model year. Most states that perform this type of testing use an on-board diagnostics test for vehicles at a certain model year and newer. The standard for model years requiring testing varies by state.

During a car emission test and the related vehicle inspection, a special scanner connects with the on-board diagnostics computer to gather information about the vehicle parts controlling emissions. If parts of the car controlling emissions are not working properly, the car is most likely releasing emissions levels that are too high. The emissions testing location may also look for tampering on the vehicle and check the gas cap and tailpipe. This car inspection ensures there are no parts of the vehicle that have been modified, causing higher emissions to be released. Tailpipe and gas cap tests check areas of a vehicle that may be releasing higher levels of gasoline vapors, and as a result, higher air emissions.

Emissions Waivers in Michigan

Waivers for emissions testing are not necessary in Michigan, because there is no required smog check for residents. In states with emission test requirements, the owner may be required to pay for repairs and redo the emissions test. Most states that require a vehicle inspection give out waivers to car owners who have spent a certain amount of money repairing their vehicle. A waiver allows the car registration to be renewed for a period of time, as long as the vehicle owner provides receipts for emissions repairs to be shown at the DMV.

Testing Fees in Michigan

For states that require emissions testing, prices vary but may reach up to $30. For example, a smog test on newer cars in Colorado is $25, while a test on newer cars in Maryland is $14. Prices are lower in states with more lax emission requirements. The price of vehicle inspections varies in Michigan, because smog certification is not required to renew a car registration in the state. Residents can call local inspection shops and inquire about rates, keeping in mind the average test price in other states. A smog check coupon for a local store may be found in magazines, newspapers and online.

Where to Perform an Emissions Check in Michigan

For states requiring emissions testing locations can be found by contacting the local DMV office for information. In Michigan, a check can be completed at regular auto service locations. Search online for “emissions testing near me” to find local auto service businesses that perform inspections. You can also call the shops to compare inspection rates and get information.

Failing a Smog and Emissions Test

If a car fails a vehicle inspection in Michigan, the smog check will reveal why the car did not pass. Use this information to get the car repaired. Repairs for emissions are generally inexpensive. For states requiring emissions tests, the test must be retaken after the vehicle is repaired. To pass a vehicle emissions test, routine inspection and servicing of the vehicle is required. If your car is releasing visible smoke or your Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL) is on, the vehicle most likely has high emission levels. The MIL light may say “service engine soon” or “check engine.” Before a car emission test, be sure the MIL light is off. If the light is on during a test, the vehicle will automatically fail. In either situation, take your car to an emissions repair specialist right away to fix the problem.


See also Vehicle History Reports and Vehicle registration renewal.

Last updated on Tuesday, March 10 2020.