Although emissions testing is not required in Minnesota, understanding smog check requirements is beneficial for residents. Vehicle inspection ensures cars are not emitting pollution that reduces the air and water quality of the state. Car emissions increase air toxicity, create haze and contribute to global warming. Performing regular vehicle emissions testing in Minnesota is the best way to bypass any issues that may arise in the future and for residents to contribute to the overall environmental health of their state.

Minnesota Emissions and Smog Check Requirements

There are no emission test requirements for vehicles in Minnesota. However, residents should be aware of smog check requirements, especially if they may move to another state in the future. Other states require cars to pass vehicle emissions testing adhering to federal emission standards in order for residents to receive a new car registration. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates pollution testing on a federal level. This agency encourages safety and emissions testing on vehicles on a regular basis. On a state level, Minnesota monitors the air quality based on emissions to ensure the state is environmentally friendly and energy efficient. Maintaining a regular smog check history in Minnesota ensures that a car is meeting emissions requirements in case the vehicle is tested in the future.

Smog Check Exemptions in Minnesota

Because there is no smog check required for Minnesota residents to renew a car registration, residents are exempt from this type of testing. For an out-of-state vehicle inspection, residents who meet certain criteria may be allowed to request an extension or exemption on a test date. Acceptable situations include if the car is being repaired, if the car is from out-of-state or if the resident is a student or a military member.

Out-of-State Emissions Testing

Certain states require vehicle inspection in order to renew a car registration. Emissions testing to meet state and federal standards must be performed periodically if a Minnesota resident moves to a state that requires these types of tests. This testing, performed at certain emissions testing locations around the country, depends on the type of vehicle and model year. Most states requiring this type of vehicle test 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 the car emissions test, a special scanner checks that the vehicle parts controlling emissions are working properly by connecting to the on-board diagnostics computer to gather information. If parts of the car controlling emissions are not working correctly, the car is most likely releasing emissions levels that are too high. Other checks performed at emissions testing locations during a vehicle inspection vary by state and may include tailpipe, tampering and gas cap tests. Tailpipe and gas cap tests check areas of a car that may be prone to leaking or releasing higher levels of gasoline vapors, and as a result, higher air emissions. A tampering test ensures there are no parts of the car that have been modified resulting in higher emissions being released.

Emissions Waivers in Minnesota

If a vehicle does not meet emission test requirements in certain states, the owner may be required to repair the issue 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 on emissions repairs for their vehicle. A waiver allows the car registration to be renewed for a period of time, as long as the vehicle owner has receipts for emissions repairs to be shown at the DMV. Waivers for emissions testing are not required in Minnesota, since there are no pollution standards for vehicles to meet in the state.

Testing Fees in Minnesota

The price of an emissions check varies in Minnesota, since vehicle inspection is not required to renew a car registration in the state. Among states that require emissions testing, prices range widely but may reach up to $30. For example, a test on newer cars in Colorado is $25, while the cost for a similar test on newer cars in Maryland is $14. Prices are usually higher in states with stricter emission requirements. In Minnesota, residents can call local auto shops or mechanics and ask for rates, keeping in mind the average test price in other states. A smog check coupon may be available in local magazines, newspapers or online.

Where to Perform an Emissions Check in Minnesota

Emissions testing locations in states that require these tests are usually at or near local DMV offices, making it convenient for residents to perform the checks regularly. In Minnesota, an emissions check may be done at regular car service locations. Search online for “emissions testing near me” to find local businesses that perform inspections. Call the businesses to compare inspection rates and find the right service shop for you.

Failing a Smog and Emissions Test

If a car fails vehicle emissions testing in Minnesota, the smog test 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 ensure your vehicle will pass a smog check in any state and avoid failing a test, routinely inspect and tune up your car. If your car is releasing visible smoke or your Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL) is on, the vehicle most likely has higher emission levels. The MIL light may advise you to check your 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 the vehicle to an auto repair specialist immediately.


Last updated on Tuesday, March 10 2020.