Emissions testing is mandatory for most car-owning New York residents on a yearly basis. After a vehicle is checked for its overall safety, a smog check is conducted to ensure that vehicles driven on public roads are not contributing to the hazardous effects of smog and air pollution.

Smog checks are a vital part of vehicle inspections, and vehicles that do not pass the evaluation must be re-examined after repairs are made until the vehicle is approved by the DMV. Most vehicles in New York are subject to a safety and emissions evaluation annually.

New York Emissions and Smog Check Requirements

There are generally three types of emissions testing in New York: low enhanced inspection, diesel and onboard diagnostics (OBDII). Each of these inspection types has slightly different criteria for vehicles to meet.

The OBDII emissions inspection is the most common test and is typically used to inspect light diesel cars and gasoline-fueled cars manufactured after 1996. This method relies on checking the functionality of certain parts in a vehicle. In most cases, cars displaying a “check engine” indicator will not pass the OBDII test.

Regarding the specific emission test requirements for diesel cars, the inspection will also include a smoke test. The car will be tested on the opacity of the smoke coming from the exhaust. Opaque smoke is an indicator of emitting harmful gases.

The low enhanced test is used to inspect gasoline-powered cars manufactured in 1995 or earlier. With this type of smog check, all emissions control devices will be inspected, including the gas cap, catalytic converter, and air injection system.

Smog Check Exemptions in New York

Some vehicles registered in New York are not required to complete an emission inspection, although they still must undergo a general safety inspection every year. Vehicles that are exempt from DMV emissions testing do not have to undergo testing since they are very unlikely to emit a high level of toxic gases.

The vehicle emissions testing exemption in New York extends to the following vehicles:

  • Electric cars, not including hybrids
  • Motorcycles
  • Historic vehicles
  • Vehicles less than 2 model years old
  • Vehicles older than 25 years

Out-of-State Emissions Testing in New York

If a car owner is a permanent New York resident but is living elsewhere when his or her smog certification expires, there are two general courses of action that may be taken, depending on the situation.

If the state where the car owner is temporarily residing also has mandatory testing, he or she can get the emissions inspection completed in that state. New York will honor a passed inspection from other states in lieu of an NY emission evaluation.

New York residents living in states that do not offer testing need to request a safety and emissions extension until they can return to NY. However, car owners cannot renew a registration in New York while benefitting from an extension.

Emissions Waivers in New York

Emissions testing in New York can be waived under certain circumstances. There is currently only one way to obtain an inspection waiver, which requires the vehicle to fail the initial OBDII evaluation.

If a vehicle fails the OBDII inspection, the owner and vehicle must meet the following qualifications to be eligible for the emissions waiver:

  • The vehicle passed the safety portion of the evaluation.
  • If the vehicle is fueled by gasoline, it passed the gas cap and visual portions of the evaluation.
  • If the owner has spent more than $450 in professional repairs to pass inspections, provided receipts are available.
  • If the owner has attempted to repair the issues by his or herself and has spent more than $450 in purchasing parts, provided receipts are available.

Testing Fees in New York

The emission test cost varies depending on the type of vehicle being inspected, contingent upon the weight and fuel type of the vehicle. This is because the criteria for some cars may differ by the make and model of the vehicle.

There are three different types of vehicle testing in New York: the low enhanced emissions test, OBDII and diesel. The low enhanced emissions test is usually conducted on hybrid and gasoline-fueled cars that are 25 model years or older and costs $11. The OBDII test is used for all other hybrid and gasoline-powered cars that are less than 25 model years old. The OBDII test also costs $11, except in metropolitan areas, where the test costs $27. The diesel smog check is administered to cars that are fueled by diesel and costs $25.

An emission test cost may also include late fees. If a vehicle’s smog certification sticker has been expired for up to 60 days prior to the examination, the fine will be between $25 and $50. Emission sticker expirations exceeding 60 days, or not having a sticker at all, will be a fine of $50 and $100. There will also be an $88 mandatory service fee in addition to the initial fine.

Where to Perform an Emissions Check in New York

There are hundreds of emissions testing locations throughout the state of New York, as testing is required every year. Because there are so many testing centers, many stations in NY specialize in inspecting certain types of vehicles.

To find a smog test station in your county for your specific vehicle type, please contact the New York State DMV.

Failing a New York Smog and Emissions Test

Cars that fail auto emissions testing must be re-examined after repairs until the vehicle passes. In most cases, the failing of an inspection indicates that the car requires several repairs. The car owner is responsible for the costs of necessary repairs and retaking the test.

Vehicles that are re-examined and pass an inspection within 30 days of their previous inspection will only be tested on the parts of the inspection that the vehicle failed, while those who retake the test after the initial 30 day period will have to undergo the entire inspection again.

Last updated on Tuesday, March 10 2020.