Texas Smog Check / Emissions Test
The State of Texas requires most gas vehicles registered in certain counties to pass a vehicle emissions test as well as all vehicles in the state to pass a safety inspection.The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) in collaboration with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) run Texas’s “Two – Step, One Sticker” vehicle testing program.
The program requires non-exempt vehicles to pass both a safety inspection and an emissions test before being eligible to obtain a vehicle registration or registration renewal. The State of Texas exempts new vehicles from emissions tests when owners obtain an original registration. New residents must get their vehicle to pass a safety inspection and an emissions test within 30 days of moving to one of the required testing areas of the state. A Texas registered vehicle’s registration sticker now serves as proof of both a vehicle’s proof of passing inspection and of the vehicle’s valid Texas registration.
Requirements to Pass the Texas Smog Check
If a vehicle owner lives in one of the following counties/areas and owns a gasoline vehicle between 2 to 24 model years old, they must get the vehicle to pass an annual smog check:
Smog Check Exemptions for Texas Drivers
If a vehicle falls under one of the following categories, it does not need to pass a smog check:
- New vehicles made in the last 2 model years
- Vehicles made more than 24 years ago
- Diesel vehicles
All motor vehicles in Texas must pass a safety inspection. Hybrid vehicles are also not exempt from passing a smog check.
Smog Check Fees
Texas sets a limit on smog check fees at a maximum of between 11.50 – 24.50 for a TSI, ASM or OBD inspections depending on the testing area. Vehicle safety inspections are $7.00. The total for both can not be more than $31.50 depending on the required testing area, and year and engine type of the vehicle.
Performing Emissions Testing in Texas
Residents have 90 days from the due date on a vehicle’s registration sticker to get a vehicle inspected, pass a vehicle emissions test (if required), and get the vehicle’s registration renewed. Vehicle owners in Texas must drive their vehicle to a DPS-certified inspection station, pay a testing fee, and provide proof of insurance. The State of Texas requires a variety of emissions testing. The specific county a the vehicle owner has their vehicle registered in determines the type of test it must pass. There are three different smog inspection methods:
- On Board Diagnostic Tests: Texas test personnel administer an ODBII test on most gasoline motor vehicles made in the 1996 or newer model years registered in one of the counties/areas requiring vehicles to pass an emissions test. The OBDII system installed in U.S. manufactured vehicles made in the 1996 and newer model years is a mechanical issue early-warning system. The system records the vehicle’s performance by administering a specific kind of test referred to as a “Monitor”. Certain monitors test a vehicle’s primary emissions components and subsystems. While the key is in the ignition and the engine is off, a test technician will make sure the vehicle’s DLC (Data Link Connector) works properly. Then, the test technician hooks an emissions diagnostic tool up to your vehicle’s DLC using a cable to allow the technician’s diagnostic tool to communicate with the vehicle’s OBD II system. A Texas test technician can check your vehicle’s engine and emissions systems, and see if any monitors state a “Not Ready” status. The test personnel can complete the test in around 2 minutes.
- Two speed idle: The two-speed idle tailpipe test is pretty straight forward. First, test personnel place a probe into a vehicle’s tailpipe to measure the emissions coming from it. Afterwards, they attach a contact tachometer to the spark plugs of the vehicle, or place one on the vehicle’s hood if the test personnel are unable to get to the vehicle’s spark plugs. Tachometers typically measure the number of rotations of an engine’s crankshaft per minute or to put another way, the engine’s speed. Next, while the vehicle is in Park or Neutral, the test personnel will have the vehicle idle for 30 seconds. Then, the test personnel rev the vehicle’s engine to a higher RPM. Finally, they idle the vehicle for another 30 seconds.
- Acceleration simulation mode: (ASM 25/25 or 50/15). During an ASM test, test personnel drive a vehicle on a set of rollers, called a Dynamometer. They drive the vehicle at 25 miles per hour while placing the vehicle under a 25% weight load recommended for the vehicle’s make and model. Or, during the 50/15 test, they drive a vehicle at 15 miles per hour while placing the vehicle under a 50% weight load recommend for its make an model. Test personnel will also place a probe into the vehicle’s tailpipe to measure the exhaust emissions coming from the tailpipe during the test.
After a vehicle passes its vehicle emissions test, the vehicle owner will receive a Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) stating the vehicle passed its emissions test so the owner can submit it when obtaining their vehicle registration or registration renewal. The VIR is proof their vehicle passed its emissions test. Vehicle owners can get a copy of their vehicle’s VIR for as many as 13 months after the orginal inspection date. The owner will also receive a decal to put on their vehicle’s windshield as evidence that it has passed the Two Step, One Sticker program.
Failed Smog Inspections – Next Steps
If a vehicle does not pass a smog inspection, the vehicle’s emissions-related repairs must be fixed by a certified mechanic at a recognized repair facility and the vehicle must be retested. The State of Texas also provides waivers and extensions for eligible vehicle owners.
To find out more about Texas Waivers and Extensions check out their web page for a full description.
Low Income? Try the CAP Repair Assistance Program
The Texas Commission for Environmental Quality administers a Vehicle Repair Assistance program. Eligible Texas vehicle owners who qualify through specific income, location, and vehicle requirements, may be eligible for a Texas Repair Assistance Voucher valued for up to $600. In order to be eligible for the voucher, a vehicle must have its emissions-related repairs completed at an approved emissions-repair facility. The program will provide a list of approved repair facilities in your area. Find out more about the Vehicle Repair Assistance program through the Texas CEQ’s program web page.
Moved to Texas – Smog Check Requirements
New Texas residents have 30 days to get a vehicle registration after moving to Texas. If moving to a county/metropolitan area that requires that vehicles pass both a smog check and a safety inspection, new residents must get their vehicles to pass both before they will receive a Texas vehicle registration. Texas will not recognize any out-of-state inspections from residents moving from states with vehicle inspections programs.
Transferring a Vehicle Title in Texas – Smog Check Needed?
During a vehicle title transfer in the State of Texas, if a vehicle does not have a valid inspection, the new owner must get the vehicle to pass a safety inspection, and a smog check (if required) before the vehicle can be titled and registered. To find out the date of a vehicle’s last passing smog check, go to http://www.mytxcar.org/ to look up a vehicle’s test records.
Do Sellers Give Buyers a Valid Smog Certificate?
For new vehicle sales, Texas car dealers register the vehicle in the buyer’s name. The dealer only needs to show 30 days left on a valid vehicle inspection decal in order to register the vehicle in the buyers name.
For used vehicle sales, the dealer must show proof the vehicle passed a smog check at least 180 days before the vehicle’s sale. If the dealer can not prove this, then the Texas DPS will not allow the sale to go through. To find out the date of a vehicle’s last passing smog check, go to http://www.mytxcar.org/ to look up a vehicle’s test records.
In a private sale, if a vehicle has an expired inspection, the buyer must get the vehicle inspected and it must pass a smog check (if required) before the vehicle can be titled and registered in the buyer’s name.
Special Tips to Pass the Texas Emissions Test
Texas vehicle owners may want to get their vehicles tested as soon as they receive their first testing notice. Allow extra time to get any needed repairs done before the vehicle’s registration expires. Also, if a vehicle owner plans to be out of town during the date when their registration expires, planning early will give owners time to meet the deadline. Here are some tips to keep in mind to ensure passing a Texas vehicle emissions test:
- Make sure the vehicle does not have its “Check Engine” light on; If it does, it will not pass the test. To fix, check to make sure the gas cap is on tight and is not broken. Keep the sealing surfaces in the cap clean so it can make a good seal. If it is not, tighten it and drive around to see if the light goes off.
- Follow the vehicle’s recommended maintenance schedule. Many of the mechanical issues that cause vehicles to fail their tests can be addressed during a routine check-up
- If your vehicle is a make and model year when catalytic converters came standard on the vehicle, make sure your it has one, and is not malfunctioning; If it does not have one or it is not working, the vehicle will not pass the test
- Allow your vehicle to run for at least 10 minutes before it takes a test to insure an accurate reading
- Research your vehicle manufacturer’s recalls, Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs), and warranties before getting any repairs done. The cost of the repair maybe covered by the manufacturer.
- If your vehicle’s On Board Diagnostic (OBDII) system is showing trouble codes, make sure to get them fixed by a certified emissions mechanic. Do not just try to clear the codes.Test personnel will know and the vehicle will not pass inspection.
- If your vehicle is misfiring when it is idling, make sure to get this addressed before getting an emissions test
- If a vehicle’s battery is brand new, drive the vehicle for a couple of days before taking it to get an On Board Diagnostics test so as to allow the OBD system to reset
- Make sure the vehicle’s oil is not dirty. Get the oil changed on a routine basis
- Maintain the recommended air pressure in your vehicle’s tires
- Inspect your vehicle’s hoses and belts for wear. Get them replaced if necessary
- Get any mechanical issues with your vehicle’s transmission addressed and fixed. Transmission problems can affect your vehicle’s emissions and cause your vehicle to fail an emissions test
- If your motor vehicle’s emissions system has a mechanical issue, check your manufacturer’s warranty. Federal law states emissions systems on vehicles made in the 1995 and newer model years must have their emissions systems warrantied for two years or 24,000 miles
- If the OBDII diagnostic system or catalytic converter on your vehicle made in the 1995 model year or newer has a mechanical issue, check the manufacturer’s warranty also. Federal regulation states these vehicles must have a warranty on their OBDII and catalytic converters for eight years or 80,000 miles.
Find Smog Check Stations Near Me
To stay in compliance of the State of Texas’s smog check requirements, Texas-registered drivers must get their vehicles to pass a vehicle emissions test if they live in certain regions of the state. Check out our DMV & Emissions Testing Locations in Texas pages below to find a DMV office or testing location in your area.
Smog Check Stations in Houston, Texas
The City of Houston, in Harris County, Texas, has a population of 2.3 million. Texas-registered drivers with vehicles that require testing and living in Houston must get their vehicles to pass a smog check. Check out our DMV & Emissions Testing Locations in Houston, Texas page to find a DMV office or testing location in your area.
Smog Check Stations in Dallas, Texas
The City of Dallas, in Dallas County, Texas, has a population of 1.3 million. Texas-registered drivers with vehicles that require testing and living in Dallas must get their vehicles to pass a smog check. Check out our DMV & Emissions Testing Location in Dallas,Texas page to find a DMV office or testing location in your area.
Smog Check Stations in Austin, Texas
The City of Austin, in Travis County, Texas, has a population of 948,000. Texas-registered drivers with vehicles that require testing and living in Austin must get their vehicles to pass a smog check. Check out our DMV & Emissions Testing Locations in Austin, Texas page to find a DMV office or testing location in your area.