What You Need to Know About Emissions Testing in Georgia

Georgia emissions testing costs $25 and is required annually in 13 counties for cars and light-duty trucks between 3 and 25 years old.
Written by Patrick Price
Edited by Pat Roache
Georgia emissions testing is required annually for gasoline-powered cars and light-duty trucks that are three to 25 years old—assuming they’re registered in one of the 13 counties requiring emissions testing. 
  • Thirteen Georgia counties in and around the Atlanta metropolitan area require emissions testing in an effort to meet air quality standards set by the 1996 Federal Clean Air Act.
  • Georgia’s emissions testing exemptions include vehicles that weigh 8,500 pounds or more, those powered by alternative fuel, antique cars, and more.
  • Georgia motorists who fail emissions testing can address all related repairs and resubmit for testing within 30 days to waive the repeat testing fee.

13 counties require emissions testing in Georgia

Georgia’s Inspection and Maintenance Program requires certain cars and trucks to pass annual emissions testing if they’re registered in one of the following 13 counties
  • Cherokee County
  • Clayton County
  • Cobb County
  • Coweta County
  • DeKalb County
  • Douglas County
  • Fayette County
  • Forsyth County
  • Fulton County
  • Gwinnett County
  • Henry County
  • Paulding County
  • Rockdale County
The methodology: These counties in and around the
metropolitan area are classified as “non-attainment areas” under the 1996 Federal Clean Air Act, meaning they fail to meet air quality standards that would otherwise release them from emissions testing requirements.

Vehicle requirements for Georgia emissions testing

The State of Georgia requires annual emissions testing for all gasoline-powered vehicles that meet the following specifications:
  • Model year: Three to 25 years old
  • Weight: Less than 8,500 pounds
Georgians who own qualifying cars must complete the following process once a year (or every
vehicle registration
  • Report to one of the state’s
    approved testing locations
  • Pay the $25 emissions testing fee, and
  • Submit an updated passing certificate to the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicle

Exemptions from Georgia emissions testing

Georgia state law specifies a rather exhaustive list of vehicles that are exempt from emissions testing requirements:
  • Motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 8,500 pounds
  • Diesel, electric, propane powered, or other alternative fuel vehicles
  • Vehicles registered as
    antiques or collector cars
  • Vehicles that are over 25 years old
  • Hybrid vehicles
  • Vehicles that are at least 10 years old, used for less than 5,000 miles of driving each year, have a functioning odometer, and are owned by
    senior drivers
    older than 65
  • Non-conforming vehicles, such as kit cars, hot rods, and vehicles with obsolete parts
Keep in mind: You are also exempt from Georgia emissions testing if you don’t live in any of the 13 counties listed above where testing is required.

How to complete Georgia emissions testing

When to test: Submit your vehicle for testing four to six weeks before the registration renewal date to have adequate time to address any potential issues.
When the time for testing comes, you’ll just follow these steps: 
  • Locate a testing center: Find your nearest state-approved emissions testing site using
    this list
  • Bring your car in for an inspection: Report to the inspection station during normal hours of operation and hand over the vehicle. 
  • Pay the fee at the testing center: The testing fee in Georgia should be no higher than $25. 
The standard emissions test/smog check will include the following procedures:
  • An OBD-II test
  • A test of the seal on the gas cap
  • An inspection of the
    catalytic converter
  • A two-speed idle test (which tests the vehicle's emissions at both high and low RPMs) OR
  • An accelerated simulation mode test (which tests emission levels under different loads)

What happens if you fail emissions testing in Georgia?

Vehicle owners who fail emissions testing can make the necessary
car repairs
and have their car retested. According to the Georgia state government, these are the most common reasons why motorists fail their emissions testing:
Expert tips: Do an at-home test of these features before reporting for inspection. If you do need a retest, you can do it for free if you complete the emissions-related repairs and resubmit the vehicle within 30 days.
You can also request a repair waiver from local government officials to see if you can bypass the inspection and proceed with registration. They’ll take into account the age of your vehicle and any pre-existing alterations that were added before current testing standards. 
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Vehicle owners in Georgia need to pass emissions testing once every registration renewal if:
  • They live in one of the 13 counties where testing is required
  • Their vehicle is between three and 25 model years old, and
  • Their vehicle weighs less than 8,500 pounds.

Car owners who live in one of the 13 counties where testing is required and do not own a qualifying exempt vehicle must submit for annual emissions testing. That said, you may be able to apply for a repair waiver through the DMV if you fail the first test.
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