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What Are Arizona’s Smog Laws?

Are you a new resident of Arizona? Are you just registering your vehicle for the first time? 

If you’re from another state, you may not be familiar with Arizona’s smog laws, as they may vary from state to state. In fact, in Arizona, smog tests are referred to as “emissions testing.” Testing occurs at state-run Emissions Testing Stations. 

Arizona requires a vehicle emissions test for:

  • Original registrations, depending on certain specifications.
  • Annual renewals for drivers within certain counties in the state. 

If you’re ready to register your vehicle, read on to find out what you need to do before you log onto and fill out your registration form.

Arizona Smog Laws

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) works with the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) on the Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program to reduce the harmful effects of vehicle emissions.

Vehicles produced after 1967 must pass an emissions test if the vehicle owner resides or commutes to Maricopa or Pima Counties. Your particular vehicle’s specifications may affect the frequency of how often an emissions test is required. 

New residents are required to pass an emissions test before registering their vehicle. Once your car passes emissions, don’t wait to register your vehicle – the test is only valid 90 days after the test is complete.

Does Your Vehicle Need an Emissions Test?

Vehicles that are required to have an emissions test include the following:

  • Vehicle owners that live, work, or go to school in Phoenix or Tucson must pass an emissions test every two years for gas-powered vehicles under 8500 pounds and produced after 1981. 
  • Yearly testing is mandatory for all vehicles: 
  • Produced from 1967 to 1980
  • All vehicles over 8500 pounds 
  • All diesel vehicles produced since 1967 
  • Traction control vehicles or 4×4 models that weigh less than 8500 pounds, produced from 1981 to 1995

What to Know About Emissions Testing

Every day more and more people move to the “Valley of the Sun” for better weather, job opportunities, and affordable housing. New residents arrive with their cars that contribute to an already heavy amount of air pollution harmful to the environment and the public. 

To help improve air quality and reduce vehicle emissions throughout heavily populated areas, especially the Metro-Phoenix area, the ADEQ requires emissions testing and repairs.

There are four different types of emissions tests in Arizona. The most common test for light vehicles produced after 1996 is the Onboard Diagnostics Test (OBD). Truck producing smog from exhaust

Engine operating data is accessed by connecting to the vehicle’s internal computer to monitor the emissions system. The onboard diagnostic system is what monitors your vehicle’s internal operations. If something falls out of the specifications set by your vehicle manufacturer, it will trigger a warning light, like your Check Engine Light, to illuminate. 

The OBD test can help identify potential problems before they worsen and cause emission system failures or engine damage.

Where to Get an Arizona Emissions Test

There are seventeen Phoenix-area state-run test centers and three in the Tucson area. You can find testing center locations on the ADEQ website No appointment is necessary, and wait times are available to view in real-time. 

The best time to have your test completed to avoid busy periods is during the middle of the month, Monday through Friday from 4-5 PM, and Saturdays from 2-5 PM.

How To Prepare For Your Emissions Test

If you are new to the valley and registering your vehicle for the first time, you’ll need to bring:

  • Your previous state vehicle registration
  • Title or bill of sale 

Vehicles previously registered in Arizona will need to bring the above, as well as:

  • Test fees 
  • A gas tank key (if applicable)
  • The original vehicle inspection report with repair details for previously failed tests

Test Fees

In Phoenix, the average test fee for vehicles produced after 1981 is $17.00. Depending on your vehicle’s year and weight, your payment may range from $16.00 to $25.00. Cash, checks, and credit or debit cards are accepted.

Get Your Vehicle Ready for the Test

When ready for the test, make sure your vehicle’s check engine light is off. Otherwise, it’s an automatic failure. 

To prepare your vehicle, make sure the engine is:

  • Properly warmed up 
  • Not overheated
  • The air conditioner is off
  • The car is fully operational and can enter the station without assistance

Avoid bringing pets or other passengers during the test and remove any trailers attached to the vehicle before your arrival. 

To help your vehicle pass the test, ensure you have plenty of fuel – at least half a tank is best. Make sure your car is operating at the appropriate temperature and that it has had an oil change recently to address any possible vacuum leaks or other engine troubles that could affect your test result.