Washington emissions testing is limited to certain vehicles registered in most of Clark, King, Pierce, Snohomish and Spokane county. In most cases, if you need to take your vehicle in for testing, it will be printed on your tab renewal notice.

An emissions inspection involves several different procedures to ensure your vehicle complies with state standards to limit air pollution in highly-populated areas. Learn more about the inspections process, including your eligibility for an emissions inspection exemption and available waivers, by reading the information 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 called 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 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. In this type of emission check, a technician connects diagnostic equipment to the vehicle’s OBDII computer and obtains a reading from the emissions system. Smog test related problems that may show up include engine misfire, excessive fuel system corrections and catalytic converter malfunction.

You will usually only need to bring your fee payment to the emission test location, but proof of ownership may also be required depending on the area. 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 WA 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 of age or older than 25 years of age.
  • 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 location at the time your inspection and registration renewal are due, you must complete an Out of Area form or contact your nearest Washington 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 of your car registration if you know you will be out of the area when testing is due.

Emissions Waivers in Washington

An emissions 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 the diagnosis 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 test 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 test done 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. To find the emission test stations closest to you, you can contact your local DMV.

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 it. Make sure to have any repairs done by an AES to ensure that the repairs will be done properly and that you can prove the repairs were done by an authorized technician. Only repair costs from an AES will count toward a Washington emissions inspection waiver, if you end up needing one.

Last updated on Tuesday, March 10 2020.