Car Inspection Laws in Arizona – What Do You Need to Know?

October 17, 2018

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) controls vehicle emissions to help the environment and improve air quality within the state. It’s mandatory to undergo and pass a Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program (VEIP), according to the ADEQ. Ignoring the mandatory emissions inspection could result in tickets, fines, and the inability to drive your vehicle until you successfully complete an inspection. That’s why our Phoenix personal injury lawyers have put together this resource of what you should know about the Arizona car inspection law before operating a vehicle in the state.

Who Must Get an Emissions Test?

If you’re a new resident, you must pass the VEIP immediately upon registering your vehicle. You are officially a resident of the state if you work in Arizona, you’re registered to vote in the state, you have children in school under a resident rate, you own a business in Arizona, you obtain a state license, or you live in Arizona for a total of seven or more months per year according to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT). Once you become a resident of Arizona, you must register your vehicle and undergo the VEIP right away.

The ADEQ does not accept any out-of-state smog or emissions test certificates, because each state has different rules for the acceptable level of emissions. You must get an Arizona-specific emissions test to legally operate your vehicle in the state. If you’re already a resident of Arizona, you must keep up with vehicle emissions tests every one or two years depending on the model year of your vehicle and its weight. If you don’t pass your vehicle emissions test, you must repair your vehicle accordingly until you do pass. Otherwise, you cannot legally operate the vehicle in Arizona. If you have questions regarding a car accident with an unkept vehicle, contact our Phoenix car accident lawyer.

Emissions Testing Requirements and Exemptions

If your vehicle is out of state 90 days before your registration expires, you can apply for an exemption. This exemption will last one to two years, depending on the situation. Vehicle models older than 1968 are exempt from VEIP tests, as are gas-powered and alternative fuel vehicles less than five model years old. You may qualify for a military exemption if you’re stationed out of state and aren’t using your car.

Different cities have different emissions testing requirements. In Phoenix and Tucson, all vehicles model year 1967 and up require testing. You must complete the test no more than 90 days before vehicle registration or tag renewal. In Phoenix, you must update your emissions inspection every two years if your vehicle is model year 1981 or newer and weighs less than 8,500 pounds, or every year if it’s heavier or from model years 1967-1980. Tucson requires testing every two years for vehicles 1996 or newer, and every year for older vehicles.

What to Expect During the Emissions Test in Arizona

To schedule your car inspection, find the emissions testing location closest to you. Book an appointment and take your vehicle to complete the VEIP. You will need to bring the vehicle’s title, current (valid) registration, and a bill of sale, if applicable. If you already failed one emissions test and you’re re-testing, you’ll also need to bring your failed vehicle inspection report as well as repair information. Bring any keys you might need to open gas caps, as well as payment for the emissions test fee. The prices for tests are as follows:

  • $17 for passenger vehicles model years 1981 and newer
  • $17 for lightweight trucks (less than 8,501 pounds)
  • $25 for heavy-duty diesel vehicles (more than 8,500 pounds)
  • $16 for most other vehicle types
  • $12.25 if you live in Tucson

If you pass the VEIP, you’ll receive documentation to keep for your personal records. The testing center will automatically send a copy of the successful inspection record to the ADOT. If you fail the emissions test, you have 60 days to repair your vehicle and schedule a re-inspection at the same inspection location to get the second test for free. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay the fee again.