Ohio emissions testing exists to help the state meet the national air quality standards outlined in the Clean Air Act. In 1996, the State of Ohio began the E-Check vehicle emissions testing program as a cost-efficient measure to reduce smog levels. The E-Check program currently operates in seven OH counties and is administered on an odd/even year basis. Learn more about E-Check testing in Ohio, including how to find a testing station near you, by reviewing the sections detailed below.

Ohio Emissions and Smog Check Requirements

Vehicles manufactured in an even-numbered year must have an emissions test completed during even-numbered years, while vehicles with an odd-numbered model year are tested during odd-numbered years. For example, a 2014 model car must receive a smog test in 2018, while a car manufactured in 2015 must be tested in 2017, 2019 and so forth. Test results are valid for 2 years, even though vehicle registration takes place annually.

Only vehicles registered in certain Ohio counties must adhere to E-Check emissions testing guidelines. These seven counties are located in the Cleveland and Akron area and include:

  • Cuyahoga
  • Geauga
  • Lake
  • Lorain
  • Medina
  • Portage
  • Summit counties

Vehicles that must receive a smog certification are all gasoline and diesel-fueled vehicles manufactured in the past 25 years, with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) equal to or less than 10,000 pounds. Auto emissions testing in OH is also required for flexible fuel and hybrid vehicles that meet the requirements mentioned above.

The Ohio car inspection process includes the following:

  1. A tampering inspection to check for a gas cap, catalytic converter and any obvious fluid leaks, bald tires or other safety concerns.
  2. An Onboard Diagnostics (OBD) computer emissions test on gasoline-powered vehicles manufactured in 1996 or after and diesel vehicles built in 1997 or after.
  3. A tailpipe test using a dynamometer that collects and analyzes emissions while simulating driving conditions.
  4. A gas cap pressure test to ensure that gasoline vapors are not leaking into the air.

When heading to the emissions testing station, bring your current Ohio title or registration, lease agreement (if applicable), and a cash or check payment if you are on your fourth or more inspection for the year. If you are a new Ohio resident, bring your vehicle identification number inspection as well as a testing voucher purchased from Envirotest Systems.

Smog Check Exemptions in Ohio

Ohio smog checks are not required for certain vehicles, including those registered outside of the seven counties listed above. New vehicles are also exempt from testing for the first four years they are registered. Vehicles with a permanent exemption from E-Check emission test requirements include:

  • Vehicles over 25 years old.
  • Commercial vehicles with a GVWR 10,000 pounds or over.
  • Historical and collector’s vehicles.
  • Parade and exhibition vehicles.
  • Motorcycles, recreational vehicles (RVs) and motorhomes.

Other vehicles can obtain permanent smog check exemption status after having a one-time visual inspection by the Ohio EPA. These include electrically powered vehicles, non-commercial vehicles with a GVWR over 10,000 pounds and vehicles that operate on alternative fuels, such as butane, alcohol, propane or natural gas.

Out-of-State Emissions Testing in Ohio

Drivers who need testing conducted on their vehicles but are temporarily outside the state can complete and submit an Exemption/Extension Application to apply for an exemption or extension from the E-Check testing. Those in a state that provides smog checks may have their car tested locally and submit these results to the E-Check program along with the vehicle registration renewal paperwork.

The same testing rules apply to out-of-state military personnel who have vehicles registered in Ohio. Students living in other states but driving Ohio-registered vehicles in need of smog checks must include a statement from the school’s registrar that contains the school’s name, address, phone number and confirmation of the student’s dates of attendance. If the program accepts the application, drivers will receive an emissions test exemption or extension certificate in the mail.

Applications can be sent to one of the following E-Check offices:

Ohio EPA E-Check
2190 Pinnacle Pkwy.
Twinsburg, OH 44087

Ohio EPA E-Check
50 West Town St. Suite 700
Columbus, OH 43215

Emissions Waivers in Ohio

As it applies to vehicle emissions testing, waivers differ from exemptions. Exempt cars do not need to undergo testing at all, while test waivers can be issued to qualifying drivers who are struggling to pay for emissions-related repairs. Visit your nearest E-Check location to obtain a test waiver or to learn more about how to qualify for one.

Testing Fees in Ohio

Motorists may receive up to three free emissions tests in Ohio within a 365-day period, and only one free passing test during that timeframe. The fourth test and any tests thereafter will incur an $18 fee. Note that OH emissions testing stations do not accept credit card payments.

Where to Perform an Emissions Check in Ohio

Drivers can obtain emissions checks in Ohio by visiting a licensed testing station or a self-service testing kiosk. Most vehicles built in 1996 and after can be tested at one of over a dozen kiosks located throughout Northeast Ohio by connecting the car to the machine via a diagnostic link connector. Kiosks provide step-by-step emission testing instructions to walk you through the relatively simple process of inspecting your own vehicle.

Failing an Ohio Smog and Emissions Test

If your vehicle fails its OH emissions test, you must have the vehicle repaired. If these repairs are major, you may file an Ohio E-Check Exemption/Extension Application and/or a Hardship Extension Application. By filing for an extension, you may receive up to 6 months to obtain costly repairs.

Last updated on Monday, September 24 2018.

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