Smog and Emissions Testing in Ohio
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 emissions testing in Ohio, including how to find an emissions 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 during even-numbered years, while odd-model-year vehicles are tested during odd-numbered years. For example, a 2014 dated car must receive a smog test in 2018, while a car manufactured in 2015 must be tested in 2017, 2019 and so forth. Ohio emissions test results are valid for two 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 and Summit counties. Vehicles that must receive a smog certification are all gasoline and diesel fueled vehicles 25 years old or newer, 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 within this age and weight range.
The Ohio vehicle inspection process includes the following steps:
- A tampering inspection to check for a gas cap, catalytic converter and any obvious fluid leaks, bald tires or other safety concerns.
- An On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) computer emissions test on gasoline-powered vehicles manufactured in 1996 or newer and diesel vehicles dated 1997 or newer.
- A tailpipe test using a dynamometer that collects and analyzes emissions while simulating driving conditions.
- 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 emissions 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
Smog checks in Ohio are not required for certain vehicles, including those registered outside of the seven counties listed above. New vehicles are also exempt from emissions testing for the first four model years. Vehicles with permanent exemption from E-Check emission test requirements include:
- Vehicles more than 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 motor homes.
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 Ohio vehicle emissions testing conducted but have vehicles located 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 an area that provides smog checks may obtain an auto emissions test locally and submit these results to the E-Check program along with the vehicle registration renewal paperwork. The same smog test 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, you will receive an emissions test exemption or extension certificate in the mail. Send 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 receive auto emissions testing at all, while smog 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 smog test waiver or to learn more about qualifying 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 smog 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 emissions testing station or a self-service testing kiosk. Most 1996 and newer vehicles can be tested at one of over a dozen smog test kiosks located through 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 smog testing your own vehicle.
Failing an Ohio Smog and Emissions Test
If you fail your 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 a smog check extension, you may potentially receive up to six months to obtain costly repairs.