Who Needs a Smog Check in Oregon?

Oregon requires smog checks for some vehicles—but not all. If you live or work in the Portland and Medford metropolitan areas, read this guide to see if it applies to you.
Written by James Ellaby
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Emissions inspections are required every two years for most vehicles registered in the Portland and Medford metropolitan areas in
Oregon is well-known for its rocky coastline, stunning forests, and natural wonders like Crater Lake, Mount Hood, and Cannon Beach. But as with any populated area, its natural beauty is under threat from the problems caused by vehicle emissions. 
This is why certain parts of the state require certain vehicles to take emissions tests every two years to maintain
Oregon vehicle registration
. If you’re not sure whether you’re required to get an Oregon smog check for your vehicle or want to know how to get around the requirements, keep reading.

Is a smog check required in Oregon?

A smog check/emissions test is required in Oregon for certain vehicles in the
or Medford/Ashland metro areas. This testing is part of the state's compliance with current standards for Criteria Air Pollutants. You’ll need a bi-annual emissions test if your vehicle is:
  • Registered in Portland and manufactured after 1974
  • Registered in Medford and manufactured in the last 20 years
Vehicles registered within the two testing boundaries must pass an emissions test to be re-registered with the Oregon Department of Transportation, Driver, and Motor Vehicle Services.
The Oregon Vehicle Inspection Program carries out its emission testing program through seven Clean Air Stations—six in Portland, and one in Medford. You can also get an emissions test at one of approximately 200 private-sector DEQ Too service providers.
It’s estimated that nearly 25% of all vehicles that pass the test do so because of maintenance performed shortly before the test, which also highlights the importance of ensuring you follow a regular
basic car maintenance schedule
to minimize smog and harmful emissions.
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Emissions testing requirements and exemptions

The vehicles required to get tested in Portland include: 
  • All gas-powered 1975 and newer cars, trucks, vans, motor homes, and buses registered within the testing boundaries in Portland—including vehicles powered by propane and hybrid transmissions
  • All diesel-powered cars since (and including) 1975 with a manufacturer’s gross weight rating of 8,500 or less registered in Portland
In Medford, the requirements are different and include: 
  • All cars, trucks, vans, motor homes, and buses powered by gasoline, propane, or hybrids that are 20 years old or less and registered in the DEQ’s Medford area boundaries
  • All diesel-powered vehicles that are 20 years old or less and have a manufacturer’s gross weight rating of 8,500 or less in the Medford area
Vehicles that are exempt from testing requirements include:
  • Newer model-year vehicles (i.e., within the last four years)
  • Vehicles registered outside the testing boundaries
  • Heavy-duty diesel vehicles
  • Fully electric vehicles
  • Motorcycles, mopeds, golf carts, and tractors

How to get out of your Oregon smog check

There is no way to get around a smog check in Oregon unless your vehicle meets the exemption criteria. Even if your vehicle is temporarily located outside of the state, it must still be emission-certified to be registered. There are two options for this, depending on your geographical circumstances: 
  • If the vehicle is less than 150 miles from the state border, you need to test it as normal at one of the testing stations
  • If it is more than 150 miles from the border, you must get it tested at an out-of-state program
  • If there is no out-of-state program available, you must obtain proof of this to receive an exemption and have your car registered
MORE: Oregon electric vehicle incentives

What is an Oregon vehicle emissions test?

The Oregon biennial vehicle emissions test in Portland and Medford takes the form of the following testing methods: 
  • On-board diagnostic test
  • Tailpipe test
Once the vehicle has passed the emissions test, you will receive a smog check certificate that remains valid for 180 days, during which time you need to get your vehicle registered. If you fail to complete vehicle registration in this period, you’ll need a new emissions test.
Of the approximately one million vehicles tested each year, about 6% fail. If this happens, you will receive a vehicle inspection report detailing the reasons for the failure. You can use that to get repairs made and ensure your vehicle passes the next test.

What do I need for a smog check in Oregon? 

You don’t need to take any paperwork for your smog check in Oregon, but you should ensure your vehicle is in good working condition, disconnect any trailers, leave your pets at home, and refrain from smoking while on-site. 
Any vehicles adjusted to be excessively smoking before the test will not be tested.
If you are getting the emissions test done and intend to register your car at the same time, you will need to bring the required DMV registration renewal form and identification documents.

How much is a smog check in Oregon?

The cost of the emissions test varies by location. In Portland, the vehicle testing fee is $25, which you’ll pay after your vehicle passes. There is no charge if your vehicle fails the test, though you’ll need to pay to get it re-tested.
The testing fee in Medford/Ashland is $20—and again, this is only payable after a successful test and the issue of a Certificate of Compliance.
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