What You Need to Know About Emissions Testing in Idaho

Idaho emissions inspections are required for some vehicles to help protect the environment.
Written by Matthew Lynaugh
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Idaho emissions testing is required for vehicles in the Treasure Valley Airshed, which is made up of the City of
and Ada and Canyon Counties. The Treasure Valley Airshed has been recognized by the Federal government as non-compliant with the Clean Air Act forcing certain vehicles registered here to be inspected every two years.
Have you ever wondered if there was anything more you could do to help the environment? If you’re looking for another way to lend Mother Nature a hand, we might just have a way.
is the
car insurance
expert app here to give you all the information you need on Idaho emissions inspections. We’ll cover the purpose, process, and regulations so you can make sure your car is as green as can be. 
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Idaho emissions testing regulations

Although not every state mandates emissions and smog inspections, Idaho implemented the program to reduce vehicle ozone air pollution emitted into the atmosphere. Going strong for nearly 40 years, the emissions program has expanded further within the state after a proven track record of improved air quality.
Not every vehicle needs testing, however. Let’s break down the regulations to see if your car is exempt from these inspections. 
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Which counties in Idaho require emissions testing?

The first factor that determines mandatory inspections is location.
Idaho's vehicle emissions program
does not apply to the entire state, so you may not need to be tested at all depending on where you live.
If your vehicle is registered in one of the following areas, you are subject to emissions inspections in Idaho:
  • Ada County
  • Canyon County
  • City of
If you have moved from a different county or state to one of the above areas, you will need to get an emissions test. First, get your vehicle registered and then wait for a vehicle testing notice from the Idaho Department of Motor Vehicles before booking a test.
MORE: How to pass emissions testing

Which cars need emissions testing in Idaho?

If you live in one of the areas that require emissions inspections, the next thing you’ll have to look at is the type of car you have. Gasoline vehicles made after 1981, that are at least five years old must get an emissions inspection every two years.
All of your car’s vehicle testing requirements should be easily located on your registration renewal card. The inspection fee is $11 and can typically be paid with cash, credit and debit cards, or a check at the inspection site.
There are currently 20 Idaho emissions inspection locations throughout
that are generally open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s best to call ahead of time to book an appointment and find out if any additional documents are necessary to bring. The full list of qualified emissions testing locations can be found

Exemptions from Idaho emissions testing

Certain vehicles are exempt from emissions testing and do not have to be inspected. If you own any vehicle listed below, you are exempt from Idaho emissions inspections:
  • A vehicle made in the 1981 model year or earlier
  • Motorhomes or motorcycles
  • Vehicles less than five years old
  • Vehicles weighing less than 1,500 pounds
  • Vehicles weighing more than 14,001 pounds
  • Vehicles registered as an Idaho “Old Timer” or Classic
  • Farm tractors and farm equipment
  • Vehicles registered on a prorated basis
  • Electric and hybrid vehicles

How does Idaho emissions testing work?

If you drive a non-exempt vehicle, here’s the simple inspection process:
  • Find an inspection center.
    This directory
    lists all of the testing sites.
  • Bring your car in. Additional testing may be required depending on your car’s weight, age, and fuel type.
  • Pay the inspection fee. Standard emissions inspections will cost $11.

Types of emissions tests

In Idaho, you can expect the DMV to send you inspection renewal reminders to help you stay on top of your bi-annual testing. This notice will also include the inspection’s due date, testing information specific to your vehicle, as well as nearby inspection locations. If you do not complete the inspection within the approved window of time, you could have your registration revoked.
Before any actual emissions inspection can start, your car must pass a pre-inspection safety check. The inspector will check the dashboard lights and gas cap security to make sure your car is safe to test. Once you pass this initial test, the inspector will perform one of the following inspections:
  • On-Board Diagnostic Test will be administered on all vehicles made in the model year 1996 and newer. The car’s emissions status is read by connecting the Data Link Connector to the OBD system. If too many “Not Ready” alerts pop up on the inspector's monitor, the car will fail the inspection.
  • Two-Speed Idle Test will be performed on vehicles made between 1991 and 1995. Emissions are measured from the tailpipe while the engine is running at a high revolutions per minute setting and a low revolutions per minute setting.
When the inspection is complete, the test personnel will give you a Vehicle Inspection Report, spelling out the emissions and fuel systems results as well as any repairs that need to be done.

What happens if you fail emissions testing in Idaho?

If your vehicle fails its emissions inspection, you will be responsible for bringing it in for the necessary repairs and then having it reinspected. You are free to choose any mechanic or make the repairs yourself, but the Idaho DMV recommends using a state-qualified emissions technician
A free retest is given to drivers who have the repairs and second inspection completed within 30 days of the initial test. If you fail yet again, you can expect to pay $11 for all additional retests.
If you cannot afford the necessary repairs you may qualify for a
Hardship Waiver
, which will push back the repair due date for one year if you can prove economic hardship through your expenses and tax returns. If the extended time is not enough, you can apply for a
Repair Waiver
after proving you have spent at least $200 on repairs and can still not pass your inspection.

How to save on car insurance in Idaho

Emissions inspections can help identify issues with your car while saving the planet, and
can find you top-notch
car insurance
so your car stays on the road for many years to come. 
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There are two types of emissions inspections, and the year your vehicle was manufactured will determine which test you receive. For cars made after 1996, an On-Board Diagnostic Test will read emissions data using the car’s internal data. For cars made from 1991 to 1995, a Two-Speed Idle Test will be performed measuring emissions while your motor is idling.
No—if you live outside of Ada County, Canyon County, and the City of Kuna, you do not need to get an emissions inspection. Additionally, if your vehicle was made before 1981, is electric, or is less than 1,500 pounds, you are exempt from emissions testing.
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