What You Need to Know About Emissions Testing in New York

Most vehicles in New York State must pass an annual emissions test along with a safety inspection.
Written by Melanie Krieps Mergen
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
New York
drivers must pass annual emissions and safety inspections to register their vehicles in The Empire State. Whether an emissions test is required for your car and what kind you’ll need will depend on where you live and what you drive. 
  • Most gasoline- and diesel-powered New York vehicles require annual emissions testing and safety inspections.
  • Vehicles exempt from the New York emissions testing program include those over 25 years old, electric vehicles, and historic vehicles.
  • The state of New York offers three types of emissions tests depending on a vehicle’s model year and engine type.
  • If a vehicle fails emissions testing, it cannot be registered, but waivers may be available if certain criteria are met.

New York emissions testing regulations

If you’re planning to
register your vehicle
in New York State, you’ll likely have to pass an annual emissions test to do so. New York’s emissions testing requirement is statewide. 
MORE: How to pass emissions testing

Cars requiring emissions testing in New York

In addition to a safety inspection, most gasoline-powered passenger vehicles will need an emissions test to acquire a New York registration.
Your vehicle will likely need an emissions test if
  • The vehicle is gasoline-powered and the model year is 1996 or newer
  • The vehicle is diesel-powered vehicle and the model year is1997 or newer
  • The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is less than 8,501 pounds
  • The vehicle is up to 25 years old
There are exceptions to this, though, and different types of tests for different vehicles, which we’ll get to in a moment.
How much an emissions test will cost you in New York depends on your location and the type of test you need. Here’s a breakdown of New York state inspection fees:
Emissions Test Type
New York City
New York City
Low-enhanced emissions test
New York City
OBD II test
Upstate New York
Upstate New York
Low-enhanced emissions test
Upstate New York
OBD II test
As for safety inspections, those are consistent across the state:
Safety Inspection Type
Heavy-duty vehicles
Light-duty vehicles

Exemptions from New York emissions testing

Most vehicles on the road are going to require an emissions inspection to be registered in New York. However, for the following vehicles, no smog check is necessary:
  • Vehicles over 25 years old
  • Vehicles two years old and newer
  • Motorcycles
  • Electric vehicles
  • Registered farm vehicles
  • Diesel-powered vehicles under 8,500 pounds
  • Vehicles with historical plates
  • “Homemade or custom vehicles refurbished in the upstate area”
  • Vehicles subject to heavy vehicle safety inspections
If you’re unsure whether your vehicle would be exempt from emissions testing, you can check with your local New York
Department of Motor Vehicles DMV
(NY DMV). 
MORE: New York Electric Vehicle Incentives

How New York emissions testing works

You can have your vehicle’s emissions inspection completed at any licensed inspection station registered with the DMV. 
If your vehicle needs an emissions test, here’s how you can get it taken care of:
  • Locate a testing center: You can look up inspection station locations via the
    New York DMV website
  • Bring your car in for an inspection: Remember to bring your proof of identification, current vehicle registration, proof of insurance, and your inspection fee payment.
  • Pay the testing fee: Inspection stations are required to display an official sign that lists testing fee costs. We’ve laid them out in the tables above.

Types of emissions tests

The state of New York requires three different types of emissions tests:
  • OBD-II inspections
  • Low-enhanced inspections
  • Diesel emissions inspections
Which one you’ll need will depend on your vehicle’s model year and engine type. In addition to that, there’s also a visual inspection component that all vehicles requiring emissions testing are subject to. 
An OBDII inspection is required for
  • Most gasoline-powered vehicles that are a model year of 1996 or newer
  • Model year 1997 and newer diesel-powered vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) under 8,501 pounds 
During this inspection, the inspector will use a device that connects to your vehicle’s OBDII system, which is essentially your vehicle’s onboard computer that monitors various data. 
The inspector will confirm whether your check engine light or the malfunction indicator lamp (MIL) is working properly, and they’ll also look at emissions data provided by your OBDII system to make sure it meets the specified requirements.
A low-enhanced inspection is required for:
  • Cars with a model year of 1996 or older, but not more than 25 years old, and weigh 18,000 pounds or less. 
This inspection program ensures all the necessary emissions components are present, accounted for, and properly connected.
Diesel emissions inspections are required for:
  • Diesel-powered vehicles with a GVWR over 8,500 pounds that will be registered in the New York Metropolitan Area. This area comprises the five counties in New York City, as well as Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, and Westchester Counties. 
To pass the visual emissions inspection, your inspector will take a look at the various emissions components and emissions control devices your vehicle was manufactured with. Those could include:
  • Catalytic converters
  • Exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valves
  • Positive crankcase ventilation systems
  • Evaporative emissions control
  • Fuel inlet restrictors, and more. 
Once your vehicle has passed its required emissions inspection, you’ll receive an inspection sticker and receipt allowing you to move forward with registration renewal.

What happens if you fail emissions testing in New York?

Simply put, if your vehicle can’t pass its emissions inspection, you won’t be able to get it registered. Vehicles fail New York emissions testing for the following reasons:
  • Your vehicle needs repair(s)
  • Your check engine light was on or nonfunctional
  • The OBD II test gave a “not ready” reading
If your vehicle fails the emissions inspection, you’ll receive a receipt stating why it failed. Once you address the issue, you can have the car re-inspected. The receipt will come in handy if you need to request a waiver, so don’t throw it away!
Keep in mind: If you recently had some maintenance on your vehicle taken care of, the onboard diagnostics system (OBDII) might have been reset, which could give a “not ready” reading. You might just need to drive it around for several days so it has enough data to display for an inspection again.
Depending on your circumstances, if your vehicle can’t pass an emissions test, you might be able to qualify for a waiver. Waivers last for one year and let you re-register your vehicle. 
Your vehicle might qualify for a waiver if:
  • It failed the OBD II inspection but passed its safety inspection, gas cap check, and visual emissions components inspection
  • It failed the OBD II test at re-inspection
  • You can demonstrate you made the necessary auto repairs after a failed test and costs were at least $450
If you qualify for a waiver, it’ll be issued after re-inspection.
Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but one of the easiest ways to avoid a failed emissions test is to stay on top of your vehicle’s
routine maintenance
. Properly maintained cars can run more efficiently and create fewer emissions, which will show well on your OBD II inspection.
For more information about waivers and general New York emissions testing information, you can refer to the state’s
DMV website
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Most likely, yes: If your vehicle requires emissions testing in New York, it will need to pass the inspection annually if you’re hoping to get it re-registered.
If your vehicle is exempt from emissions testing requirements, you won’t have to worry about an emissions test. However, most cars on the road in New York will likely need to pass an emissions inspection to be registered.
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