Smog and Emissions Testing in Washington
Washington emissions testing is limited to certain vehicles registered in most of Clark, King, Pierce, Snohomish and Spokane counties. In most cases, your need for vehicle emissions testing will be printed on your tab renewal notice. An emissions inspection involves several different procedures to make sure your vehicle complies with state standards to limit air pollution in highly-populated areas. Learn more about the process of obtaining a WA vehicle inspection, including your eligibility for emissions inspection exemptions and waivers, by reading the information organized below.
Washington Emissions and Smog Check Requirements
Washington smog check requirements have been established by the Washington State Department of Licensing, but most vehicle inspections are managed through a private contract company, Applus+ Technologies. The type of smog test used depends on the type of vehicle being tested. You can help improve the outcome of any emissions test by making sure the engine is fully warmed up by a minimum of 15 minutes of freeway driving. You can also improve your chances of passing your smog check by having any known repairs done ahead of time.
Vehicles manufactured in 1996 and later are equipped for On-Board Diagnostics Second Generation (OBDII) emissions testing via a computerized system. An emissions testing technician connects diagnostic equipment to the vehicle's OBDII computer and obtains a reading of the emissions system. Smog test related problems that may show up include engine misfire, excessive fuel system corrections and catalytic converter malfunction.
You will only need to bring your fee payment to the emission test location. If you are paying by personal check, you will also need to show your Washington driver license or another photo ID card with an address that matches the one on your check. After the test, your smog certification results are sent to the DMV electronically and you will be given a printed copy of your report.
Smog Check Exemptions in Washington
Certain motor vehicles are exempt from smog checks in Washington at this time. These include:
- Motor vehicles less than five years old or more than 25 years old.
- Vehicles with a model year of 2009 and newer.
- Vehicles powered exclusively by electricity or alternative fuels including propane, liquid petroleum gas, compressed natural gas or liquified natural gas.
- Motorcycles, farm vehicles, collectible vehicles and street rods.
- Hybrid motor vehicles with an EPA rating of at least 50 miles per gallon during city driving.
- Diesel-powered passenger vehicles of any age weighing under 6,001 pounds, or of any weight with a model year of 2007 or newer.
Out-of-State Emissions Testing in Washington
If your vehicle is normally registered in an area where Washington emissions testing is required, but is in another area at the time your inspection and registration are due, you must complete an Out of Area form (ECY 020-09) or contact your nearest Washington vehicle licensing office. Vehicle emissions tests performed in other states are not accepted in Washington. In the future, note that you can obtain an emissions test up to 365 days before the expiration date, if you know you will be out of the area when testing is due.
Emissions Waivers in Washington
A WA emission test waiver differs from an emission exemption in that exemptions are for vehicles that never need emissions testing while waivers are granted to owners of vehicles that fail their tests. The waiver allows you to obtain a current registration even if your vehicle does not pass the emissions inspection. Drivers may only qualify for a waiver after spending at least $150 on diagnosis and/or emission-related repairs administered by an authorized emissions specialist (AES) and presenting receipts for those specific repairs. Vehicles eligible for waivers must also have failed at least two smog tests, but passed a visual inspection of its emission control equipment. Once you have received an emissions inspection waiver, you may renew your car registration.
Testing Fees in Washington
Applus emissions test stations in Washington charge $15 for an initial test and provide one free retest for vehicles that have failed an Applus-performed smog check within the past 365 days. Other authorized smog test facilities set their own fees, which vary by location. Some emissions testing stations offer a smog check coupon for a free retest, while others will charge customers again for that service. Applus will perform retests for $15 on vehicles that had their initial emissions test at another business.
Where to Perform an Emissions Check in Washington
Washington smog check procedures are handled at any Applus Test Station. Other additional businesses are authorized to perform emissions testing in WA, such as certain auto repair shops located in King and Pierce counties.
Failing a Washington Smog and Emissions Test
If you receive a smog certification report from the technician that shows a failing result, it should also include the reason the vehicle failed and what you must do to repair the defect. Make sure to have any emission test failure repairs done by an AES. Only those repair costs will count toward a Washington emissions inspection waiver, if you end up needing one.