Who Needs a Smog Check in Washington?

Washington no longer requires smog checks for some vehicles—but it may still be worth getting your vehicle emissions tested. Here’s why.
Written by Bonnie Stinson
As of 2020, smog checks in Washington are optional—not required. However, vehicles must adhere to the Clean Car Law, which has strict standards for emissions.
Washington has some of the worst traffic. Whether you find yourself idling on 405 or stuck on the I-5 parking lot, you might be wondering if anyone is regulating all these fumes. In fact, as of 2020 emissions testing is no longer required because the air quality in Washington is so excellent!
Smog tests may not be legally required in Washington, but they can still give you valuable information about your vehicle’s ability to emit pollutants efficiently. So if saving money and saving the planet are important to you, here’s a quick guide to smog checks in Washington from
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Is a smog check required in Washington?

According to the
Department of Ecology
, Washington has ended its statewide emissions check program as of 2020. 
There are no annual smog checks required in Washington State
However, vehicles must still adhere to
Clean Car requirements
These guidelines state that 2009 and later models must be certified to California emission standards to be sold or registered—no, that’s not a typo! California has some of the strictest emissions requirements in the country, and the Clean Car Law brings these standards to Washington State.
MORE: How to check for Washington road closures

Why you should still consider getting an emissions test 

While there is no legal requirement to get a smog check in Washington, it’s easy to get an emissions test if you want one. 
A smog check can tell you how well or how poorly your vehicle is emitting pollutants and greenhouse gases. It’s especially useful to do emissions testing with older vehicles that don’t benefit from today’s modern emissions reduction technology. 
Why should you care about emissions tests if they’re not legally required? 
An efficient vehicle will save you money in the long run by using resources wisely. Efficient vehicles are also better for the environment. That’s a win-win!
MORE: Classic car insurance in Washington

What is a Washington vehicle emissions test?

There are several standard types of emissions tests, including a brief visual check of related equipment like the gas cap and instrument cluster, the treadmill test, a scan of on-board diagnostics, and the two-speed idle test. 
For some vehicles, an emissions test is as easy as using an OBD-II scanner to check for engine trouble codes associated with emissions problems. For instance, the engine code P0420 indicates that your catalytic converter is having trouble.
In older vehicles and heavy-duty trucks, a technician may perform the two-speed idle test. This test measures the engine’s speed and emissions with a probe in the exhaust pipe. 
At the end of your emissions test, you may receive a report with a “pass,” “conditional pass” or “fail” result. This report tells you which parts of the vehicle need repairs in order to reduce emissions to an acceptable level.
You can still find plenty of auto shops that will perform smog checks in Washington, even though the tests are no longer required by law.

What do I need for a smog check in Washington? 

Once you find a testing location and book your appointment, all you need to bring to the test is your vehicle and a way to pay the bill. Because you are no longer required to provide proof of passing a smog check in Washington, you don’t need to ask for any special paperwork after the test.

How much is a smog check in Washington?

The average cost of a smog check in Washington is between $30 and $50, depending on the vehicle and the shop. You may pay less or more, as testing fees are not standardized in Washington. Prices tend to be higher in populous urban areas.
Note that a re-test may be free if your vehicle failed the initial test. 

How to save on Washington car insurance costs

Let’s start with the good news. Residents of the Evergreen State pay less than most Americans for car insurance. Now for the bad news: the cost of car ownership is skyrocketing nationwide. From fuel costs to replacement parts, it’s no secret that owning a vehicle is expensive!
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