How to Pass Emissions Testing

Emissions tests protect the environment and certify your vehicle's overall health. Here are ways to pass emissions tests, including highway driving, fixing your Check Engine Light, and more.
Written by Nicholas Wilson
Reviewed by Carrie Adkins
Updated on Apr 27, 2022
Passing emissions tests is an important part of car ownership in many states. These tests exist in order to protect the environment and especially the air we breathe.
How often these tests are administered and what the consequences are of failing vary according to individual states, but if your state requires emissions testing, you’ll need to know how to pass.
In many cases, drivers fail these required emissions tests when there are straightforward ways to get a passing score and improve your vehicle’s overall health. Read this guide by
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Have your car inspected if the Check Engine Light is on

Some people are inclined to ignore the light, but it generally does tell you that something is
with your emissions.
A sure way to fail an emissions test is to ignore your
Check Engine Light
, so if it’s on, have your local mechanic get the error codes from the car’s computer and determine what is wrong.
There could be a number of potential issues, but the sooner you get it fixed, the more likely it is that you won’t cause additional damage to be repaired before passing your emissions tests.

Do a lot of highway driving in the time leading up to inspection

The various pollutants produced by your car tend to settle in the vehicle’s components and need removing.
One way to do this is by driving at higher rates of speed on the highway, which heats the vehicle and its components up to a temperature where these chemicals can be burned off. You can do this several days before the test and immediately before you arrive at the testing station as well.
You’ll have a better shot at passing emissions testing if the accumulated pollutants are not skewing your results.

Have a local mechanic perform a pre-test

You can always have a trusted mechanic run an emissions test on your vehicle before you have the official one performed.
The mechanic should be able to check your car’s components and locate any areas of concern that may affect you adversely. Since you are already in the shop, you can have the mechanic perform the necessary fixes to save you the trouble of failing on the official emissions test.
You can also ask the mechanic for any suggestions to improve your chances of passing. Knowing your particular car, the mechanic may be able to offer specific suggestions based on your vehicle’s history or your driving habits. He or she might suggest a fuel additive or other measures to improve your vehicle’s overall health.

Stay on top of routine car maintenance

A major part of owning a car is maintenance, and while it’s not fun to do, it’ll save you lots of money in the future.
Your car is like your body, and if you don’t take care of one system, it starts to affect others as well. So if you are skimping on oil changes or putting off a strongly recommended service, you could be causing serious damage that will hurt your car’s chances of passing emissions testing.
You don’t want to find out that because you haven’t stayed on top of maintenance, you’re gonna get slapped with a huge bill to pass emissions. Don’t wait till your
renewal is on the line to fix your car up. Besides, you’ll safeguard the investment that is your car much better this way.
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