New Mexico emissions testing is only required for motor vehicles registered in Bernalillo County and vehicles registered in other counties that commute to Bernalillo County 60 or more days per year. Most vehicles that fit this requirement must maintain a valid vehicle inspection report, although certain types of cars are exempt. Continue reading to learn more about specific emissions test requirements in NM, including where to undergo testing and what the inspection process entails.

New Mexico Emissions and Smog Check Requirements

Emissions testing in New Mexico is limited to the most populous city in the state, Albuquerque, and the surrounding areas within the boundaries of Bernalillo County. Since so many NM residents outside of Bernalillo county commute to Albuquerque daily, their vehicles are also included in the emissions testing requirements because of the smog they may contribute to the county’s environment.

Smog tests must be performed on vehicles manufactured 1983 or later with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 10,000 pounds or less. These vehicles must pass a smog certification test every 2 years and any time the vehicle’s ownership changes, even if the inspection sticker has not yet expired. However, vehicles tested within 90 days of the ownership transfer may receive a free retest at the Vehicle Program Management Division (VPMD) in Albuquerque. Gas-electric hybrid vehicles must also receive a car emission test every 2 years.

Inspection date reminders are printed on NM MVD car registration renewal card. Drivers should find a smog test station and have the inspection completed as soon as possible after receiving the notification to allow sufficient time for repairs and retesting if their vehicle happens to fail.

NM vehicle emissions checks include the following procedures:

  • A pollution control check that includes the catalytic converter and connections.
  • A visible car smoke test to uncover burning oil or poor fuel combustion that results in toxic emissions.
  • A gas cap check to search for vapor leaks.
  • A tailpipe exhaustion analysis on vehicles manufactured between 1983 and 1995.
  • On-Board Diagnostic (OBDII) computer test on vehicles built in 1996 and later.

When going to a smog check location for an inspection, bring your valid NM driver license and your vehicle registration renewal card along with a form of payment accepted by your Air Care Station.

Smog Check Exemptions in New Mexico

Vehicles registered in all areas of the state outside of Bernalillo County are exempt from smog checks unless they are driven into the county 60 or more days per year. Within Bernalillo County, the only motor vehicles exempt from emissions testing are diesel vehicles and dedicated electric vehicles.

Out-of-State Emissions Testing in New Mexico

If your New Mexico emissions inspection is due while you are temporarily in another state, the NM MVD will honor other state’s inspection forms. If you are in another smog inspection state, you can have the inspection completed by through the appropriate agency. If it passes, send the certificate of inspection along with your other registration paperwork to the address below. You will then receive a 2-year time extension before another inspection is due.

If you are in an area where vehicle emissions testing is not available, you must complete an Affidavit of Vehicle Unavailability for Inspection form and an Affidavit of VIN Inspection form and send these along with your completed and signed registration renewal form. For proper processing, you must mail or fax these documents to the following:

Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Vehicle Pollution Management
1500 Broadway Blvd. NE
Albuquerque, NM 87102
Fax: (505) 764-1101

Alternatively, you may scan and email your documents to the NV MVD.

To be valid for a vehicle emissions testing exemption, the Affidavit of VIN Inspection form must be completed and signed by a law enforcement officer, including a military or campus police officer. This provides verification that the vehicle was present in another state due to temporary employment, military duty or student status. After the documents are processed, you will receive a 1-year testing exemption waiver.

Emissions Waivers in New Mexico

The only type of New Mexico vehicle emission inspection waiver issued is for vehicles that are out of state in an area that does not offer inspections, as outlined above. Drivers whose vehicles fail the first inspection may apply for a time extension for repair purposes by following the directions printed on the back of the failed test.

Testing Fees in New Mexico

Your NM smog test price may vary by location, so it is wise to call ahead and find out how much your local Air Care Station charges. The emission test cost in NM usually ranges between $15 to $25, plus tax. Testing stations are required to clearly post their fees on the official Air Care Station sign. Some locations may offer a smog check coupon or another type of discount if you ask for one.

Where to Perform an Emissions Check in New Mexico

Although vehicle testing in New Mexico is limited to Bernalillo County, there are over 130 Air Care Stations that provide this valuable service. Some stations are stand-alone businesses while others are located within repair shops, gas stations, dealerships and car washes.

Failing a New Mexico Smog and Emissions Test

If your vehicle fails the New Mexico smog check, you need to have any suggested repairs completed as soon as possible and have the vehicle retested. Vehicles are eligible for one free emissions inspection retest by bringing the failed test and vehicle to the VPMD. If you need a time extension to save money for your repairs, follow the smog test extension instructions on the back of the failed test document.

Last updated on Tuesday, March 10 2020.