New Jersey Emissions Testing
Emissions testing in New Jersey is required on a regular basis to help the state achieve compliance with the National Clean Air Standards set in 1990. Most vehicles require a smog test every 2 years, and there are various tests based on the vehicle’s year, make and model. Authorized technicians who can verify that the vehicle meets or exceeds national environmental health standards must perform all tests. Learn more about the New Jersey vehicle inspection process and which cars are exempt from testing in the sections below.
New Jersey Emissions and Smog Check Requirements
Drivers are responsible for keeping track of their vehicle emissions testing due dates by noting the date printed on the inspection sticker, which may not correspond with the vehicle registration expiration date. The NJ Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) will not send out emissions inspection reminders, but inspections may be performed up to 2 months before they are due.
As of January 1, 2009, all passenger vehicles and light trucks dated 2009 or later must meet California Low Emission Vehicle Program standards. Driving a vehicle with an expired inspection sticker may result in fines up to $200 and/or imprisonment for up to 30 days.
The majority of non-commercial light passenger cars and trucks will require an NJ car emission test every other year. Cars manufactured after 1996 include an Onboard Diagnostics (OBD) system that simplifies the inspection process. Most smog tests today utilize OBD systems for a quick computer analysis of any engine-related problems contributing to harmful pollution emissions. Technicians also test the stability and seal of the gas cap to make sure it prevents fumes from leaking into the environment.
Drivers must bring their NJ driver license, registration and proof of insurance to their inspection appointment, along with a method of payment for the inspection fees. After passing an inspection, drivers will receive a new windshield sticker and a copy of their vehicle inspection report (VIR).
Smog Check Exemptions in New Jersey
Some vehicles are exempt from emissions checks, which means that obtaining a smog certification is not necessary for registration renewal. New and used vehicles, whether bought in New Jersey or another state, are exempt from emissions testing for the first 5 years following the year of manufacture.
Many other vehicles are exempt from smog checks, including:
- Gasoline-powered passenger vehicles manufactured in 1995 or earlier with a gross vehicle weight rating below 8,500 pounds
- Certain classic and historic vehicles
- Fully electric-powered vehicles
Because the types of exempt vehicles may vary, check with the NJ MVC to find out if your vehicle requires inspection.
To qualify for a New Jersey emissions testing exemption on a collector vehicle, visit any MVC agency and purchase a voucher for an exemption sticker. The fee for the initial voucher is $25 and it costs $10 to renew. You must then take the vehicle to a state emissions testing station for an odometer reading verification and to obtain an approval letter from the MVC. Submit your completed application to:
Motor Vehicle Commission
P.O. Box 680
Trenton, NJ 08666-0680
Out-of-State Emissions Testing in New Jersey
Vehicles being driven outside of New Jersey temporarily are exempt from emissions testing until the driver and vehicle return to the state. NJ residents living in another state temporarily may request Form SS-33 and keep it in the car to show to any law enforcement officer who questions the expired inspection sticker. Drivers may obtain an out-of-state inspection extension by calling (609) 633-9474 or (609) 633-9460.
Emissions Waivers in New Jersey
Car emissions test waivers differ from testing exemptions in that waivers extend grace following a failed inspection while an exempt vehicle never has to be tested for registration renewal. Currently, NJ vehicle inspection waivers are not available, as the state discontinued its waiver program in 2009.
Testing Fees in New Jersey
If you obtain testing at a state-certified inspection station, there is no charge beyond the normal vehicle registration fees. A smog test provided by a private inspection facility (PIF) can cost $30 to $60 or more, as PIFs set their own prices. However, many offer smog check coupons or other discounts.
Where to Perform an Emissions Check in New Jersey
Vehicle emissions testing in New Jersey is available through a network of state-certified inspection stations, which provide inspections at no additional charge beyond the annual car registration fee. You may also choose to avoid the lines at state vehicle inspection stations and visit a private inspection facility, commonly located in gas stations or auto repair and body shops.
Failing a New Jersey Smog and Emissions Test
If your vehicle fails a New Jersey car emissions test, a red sticker will be placed on your windshield. It is imperative to complete any necessary repairs and have the vehicle re-inspected as soon as possible because the state offers no grace period. You can receive a citation for driving a vehicle with a red inspection failure sticker.
Your vehicle inspection report will indicate which repairs are needed, which you may complete yourself or at a registered Emissions Repair Facility (ERF). If you choose to use an ERF, bring your VIR for the technician to sign. If you do the repairs yourself, keep your smog check repair receipts, which must be shown when you go to back to the state inspection facility for a re-inspection.
Note: If your car is still under warranty, many types of emissions-related repairs may be covered by the manufacturer.