Rhode Island emissions testing is conducted on a regular basis to ensure that vehicles operating on state roadways are environmentally clean. The RI Vehicle Inspection program is managed by the state DMV and most vehicles must pass a safety and emissions test within 5 days of registration. To find out more about which vehicles require an inspection and how to obtain one, continue reading the information outlined below.

Rhode Island Emissions and Smog Check Requirements

A Rhode Island safety and emissions inspection is required at least once every 24 months for all light-duty trucks and passenger vehicles registered in the state. Testing requirements apply equally to gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 8,500 pounds or less, except for the ones listed in the exemptions section below.

The RI safety and emissions inspection begins with a check of approximately 50 different components, from windshield wipers to brake lights. The emissions inspection is highly detailed and may vary somewhat, depending upon the vehicle’s model year and emissions equipment.

Most cars come equipped with an Onboard Diagnostic (OBD) system that evaluates emissions status when its computer is connected to the inspection analyzer. Usually, a vehicle will pass the OBD test as long as the emissions system has been properly communicating with the car’s computer while being driven. If not, the emissions testing technician will see certain components as “not ready.” This check result usually indicates the need for repairs.

On the other hand, if the vehicle’s battery was recently disconnected or the computer memory cleared, the vehicle will receive a failing result even if the emissions components are all functional. If this happens, come back for another emissions test after driving the vehicle for a week, to allow the systems to reset.

Another component of the RI DMV smog check is the enhanced dynamometer testing procedure. In this emissions test, the vehicle is placed in a drive cycle that simulates driving conditions. A tool is used to measure exhaust contaminants. If this smog test shows high exhaust contaminants, the vehicle fails.

A two-speed idle inspection may also be performed. The smog check technician will measure exhaust contaminants while the vehicle runs for a period of time at two different speeds. To pass this inspection, the contaminant level must fall below the state pollution limits.

Diesel-powered vehicles without OBD systems undergo a loaded opacity inspection on the dynamometer, with the engine running at 30 miles per hour. Measured pollutants must meet state regulations for diesel vehicles.

Smog Check Exemptions in Rhode Island

New vehicles are exempt from emissions inspection in RI for the first two years following the first date of purchase, or until the vehicle reaches 24,000 miles, whichever happens first. Antique vehicles are exempt from DMV emissions testing as long as they are registered for antique plates and are used solely in parades, exhibitions, club activities and other functions of public interest. Vehicles registered as classic cars may receive an alternate kind of inspection.

Certain vehicles are exempt from emissions testing in RI but must obtain an annual safety inspection. These include heavy-duty vehicles, motorcycles, trailers and semi-trailers. Electric-powered vehicles are also exempt from emissions testing but require regular safety inspections. Motor vehicles 25 years or older must continue to undergo routine safety and emissions testing, but will not be failed if they do not pass the standards.

Out-of-State Emissions Testing in Rhode Island

College students, military personnel and temporary workers who are out-of-state at the time their RI emissions inspection and registration renewal are due must contact the RI DMV Safety and Emissions office to arrange accommodations. Possible solutions include the DMV’s acceptance of another state’s test results if the testing processes are similar enough.

The RI DMV may also issue an extension on the inspection requirement period. Call (401) 462-5890 during normal business hours and a DMV agent will help you arrange an out-of-state accommodation.

Emissions Waivers in Rhode Island

Apply for an RI DMV emissions testing waiver if your vehicle fails two or more inspections. Rhode Island offers three types of inspection waivers and each is effective for only one inspection cycle:

  • Diagnostic waiver — The DMV may issue this if your vehicle fails two inspections despite the systems appearing to function as designed, leaving no further repairs reasonably possible.
  • Repair cost limit waiver — Issued only after spending $700 or more to repair an emissions problem but still obtaining a failing test result.
  • Repair time delay waiver — May be granted to low-income vehicle owners who need more time to pay for repairs.

Testing Fees in Rhode Island

Currently, the RI safety and emissions inspection fee is $55. If your vehicle fails, you may return to the same emissions testing center to receive one retest at no charge.

Where to Perform an Emissions Check in Rhode Island

Inspections can be performed at any authorized RI safety and emissions inspection station. You can find a testing location within many repair shops, service stations, and even some fire departments.

Failing a Rhode Island Smog and Emissions Test

If your vehicle fails inspection, the RI DMV suggests having repairs done by a Certified Inspection Repair Technician (CIRT), although this is not required. Failing vehicles must be repaired and re-tested within 30 days of the initial emissions test.

The second car inspection will be free if performed at the same inspection station. If your vehicle fails this retest, ask the technician about applying for one of the waivers described above.

Last updated on Tuesday, March 10 2020.