What to Do If You Don't Pass Your Emissions Test

What to do if your vehicle does not pass an emissions test.

In Arizona, you are required to pass an emissions test as part of the state’s commitment to protecting air quality. Because vehicles contribute greatly to air pollution, they need to be tested to ensure that they meet standards set under the air pollution policies. In general, this means that your vehicle is operating properly with all the factory emissions parts working correctly.

Are All Vehicles Tested?

Not all vehicles are tested. Only those that live in, work in or regularly travel to the Phoenix and Tucson areas have to pass the emissions test, however, there are exemptions. Vehicles made before 1967 are usually exempt, and most vehicles manufactured in the last five years are also exempt. All other non-commercial vehicles most likely have to pass the test in order to be registered.

What Happens If Your Vehicle Fails?

Failing the test is not the final word. If your vehicle fails the first time you take the test, you are responsible for taking it to be repaired so it can pass the test. You should try to get repairs done within 60 days because if you go back to retake the test within that time, then you won’t have to pay an inspection charge. Once you get your vehicle repaired, you can retake the test.

However, if you fail the second time, you may qualify for a waiver. A waiver will let you register your vehicle without having to do additional repairs and retake the test. You must get repairs done before taking the test a second time, though, because you must show receipts of repairs made in order to get a waiver. In addition, a vehicle can only get a waiver one time. If a waiver has already been granted for a vehicle, it must be repaired and pass the test to be registered.

To qualify for the waiver, the issue with the vehicle that is causing the test failure must be diagnosed. It also must have had a low emissions tune-up. Waivers are given if the cost to repair the vehicle, so it will pass, exceed the maximum repair cost limits based on the age and location of the vehicle. A waiver will not be given if the emissions are two times the emission standard or if the vehicle’s catalytic converter is not functioning properly. In addition, a wavier is not given to vehicles with emissions equipment that has been altered in any way.