You can’t see the gorgeous cacti of the Sonora Desert, the beautiful red rocks of Sonoma, the whispering pines of Flagstaff, or the timeless views of Grand Canyon National Park if the air in Arizona is thick with smog. And imagine how hot it would be if the greenhouse effect were local! That’s why The State of Arizona has stringent guidelines for vehicle emissions. But the rules don’t apply to everyone or every vehicle, so here are some things to know about getting your car’s AZ emissions testing in the State of Arizona.
Some states, like California, have motor vehicle departments that allow smog checks at a local repair shop, and verified by electronic and mail-in certification. Arizona’s emissions testing is operated by a state agency with its own smog check centers you’ll have to visit. These are operated by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). You’ll get a notification from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) at the time your motor vehicle registration is due, but the place you’ll go for the smog check will be to a dedicated testing center operated by ADEQ.
Not every vehicle is required to pass a smog test in Arizona. Only residents of the greater Phoenix and Tucson areas, and those who regularly commute into those areas for work or school, are required to have their vehicles pass an emissions test. Alternative fuel, flexible fuel (E85) and hybrid vehicles also require emissions testing. Diesel vehicles are tested for “smoke opacity”, in other words, how much visible pollutants are in the exhaust plume. All vehicles built before 1967 are exempt, as are most vehicles newer than 6 years old, and some other vehicles, including motorcycles.
Besides the test fee, which may be paid in cash, or with a check or credit/debit card, if your car has been registered in Arizona for some time, you will not need any paperwork, or to bring anything with you other than your vehicle. The test station will have your car’s information in its computer database. If you are new to Arizona, you will need to bring the fee along with the current title or registration of the vehicle and your residence address.
Vehicles are tested on a first-come, first-served basis and no appointments are necessary. Inspection stations are open until 7 PM weekdays and 8 AM to 5 PM on Saturdays, but you may be able to save some time by visiting the inspection stations in the evening (from 5 PM – 7 PM on weekdays) or on Saturday afternoon, and avoiding the lines that tend to form closer to the end of any month.
Yes, You Must
If your car is licensed in Arizona and you receive a notice for emissions testing, you must get your car tested. If you are out of state, you may have a licensed driver take your car in for testing on your behalf. If your car is out of state, but the place where it’s at has an emissions program, you must have the vehicle tested in the state where it is operating. If the state doesn’t have an emissions test, you must still file an affidavit or application for out of state emissions with the Arizona DMV.
Arizona does not require a safety check. If your Arizona vehicle is tested out of state and fails, the out-of-state safety check it can still be registered by passing the other state’s emissions test.
A complete set of Frequently Asked Questions and their answers, as well as detailed maps of testing sites, full information about exemptions, alternative-fuel cars and fleet vehicles can be easily found at the ADEQ information site www.myAZcar.com