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What You Need to Know About Emissions Testing in Oregon

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Oregon emissions testing is required for all vehicles registered in the
Portland
and Medford/Ashland metro areas that are at least seven model years old and do not meet any of the state’s exemption requirements.
Though it is not federally required, most states subject at least some portion of their population—usually those living in major metropolitan centers—to annual or bi-annual emissions testing in an effort to reduce detrimental air pollution. 
If you live in an area that requires it, you’ll need to figure out whether your vehicle meets testing requirements and schedule regular smog checks if it does.
But if this is your first time scheduling emissions testing, don’t worry—licensed
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comparison
app
and broker
Jerry
has put together the following guide detailing everything you need to know about emissions testing in Oregon, including what to do if you fail.
And if you want to save money on Oregon car insurance costs, Jerry can help with that, too!
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Oregon emissions testing regulations

As previously stated, not every state requires or enforces regular emissions testing, but Oregon does, especially in its largest urban centers. This is largely done to improve air quality and reduce harmful emissions contributing to climate change. 
Emissions testing in Oregon is overseen by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Not every car is required to undergo emissions testing in Oregon—to find out whether you’re exempt, let’s take a look at the regulations below.

Which counties in Oregon require emissions testing?

Depending on where you live in Oregon, you may not be required to undergo emissions testing at all. Only the Medford/Ashland and Portland metro areas require vehicles registered within their jurisdiction to undergo routine emissions testing once every two years.
If you do not live in either of these metro areas, you don’t need to worry about scheduling or passing regular emissions testing for your vehicle.
MORE: Oregon electric vehicle incentives

Which cars need emissions testing in Oregon?

If your vehicle is registered in the Portland area, was manufactured after 1974, and falls into any of the following categories, you will be required to undergo routine emissions testing. Expect a fee of $25.
  • Gas vehicle
  • Hybrid vehicle
  • Alternative fuel vehicle (AFV)
  • Diesel vehicle that weighs less than 8,500 lbs
Similarly, your vehicle will need to pass regular smog checks if it is registered in Medford/Ashland, was built within the last 20 years, and meets any of the following specifications. The testing fee is $20. 
  • Hybrid vehicle
  • Gas vehicle
  • Alternative fuel vehicle
  • Diesel vehicle that weighs less than 8,500 lbs
If you are a new resident of either Portland or Medford/Ashland, your vehicle will also need to pass emissions testing and a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) inspection. The cost of a VIN inspection is $7, and it can be performed at a DEQ testing station alongside the smog check.
If you are buying a new vehicle in Portland or Medford/Ashland and it comes from a licensed dealership, you will not have to worry about scheduling an emissions test until two years have passed—every dealership is required to have all non-exempt vehicles tested before they can be purchased.

Exemptions from Oregon emissions testing

Some vehicles are exempt from Oregon emissions testing—so if you drive one of the following, count yourself lucky, as you won’t be required to undergo a routine smog check:
  • All-terrain vehicle (ATV)
  • Golf cart
  • Motorcycle or moped
  • Tractor
  • Diesel vehicle that weighs more than 8,501 lbs
  • Vehicles built before 1976 (Portland)
  • Vehicles that are over 20 years old (Medford)
If your vehicle falls under one of these exemption categories, you will need to fill out and submit a Declaration of Exemptions form to the DEQ. This can be done online. If you have any questions or require more information regarding exemptions or the exemption form, call the DEQ at (877) 476-0583.

How does emissions testing work in Oregon?

If your vehicle meets the aforementioned requirements for emissions testing in Oregon, you’ll receive a testing notice in the mail that will provide a date by which you must bring your vehicle in for testing.
  1. Locate a testing center. To find a testing center near you, consult this
    list
    compiled by Emissions.org.
  2. Bring your vehicle in for testing. At any time before the due date listed on your testing notice, bring your vehicle to a verified testing location and have it tested.
  3. Pay the testing center’s fee. Fees have been mentioned above, but you can generally expect to pay between $20 and $25, depending on whether you live in Medford/Ashland or Portland.

Types of emissions tests

Generally speaking, the only types of emissions testing offered by the state of Oregon are On-Board Diagnostic (OBDII) tests and tailpipe tests, which more-or-less include a thorough inspection of your vehicle’s tailpipe, dashboard lights, and gas cap, followed by a test with an OBD-II scanner to check for emissions-related error codes.
These tests are administered at three different test location types: DEQ certified centers, DEQToo partner locations, and self-service test kiosks.

What happens if you fail emissions testing in Oregon?

If your vehicle fails emissions testing, you will need to have the emissions-related issue repaired and then schedule a reinspection—this first reinspection is free, but if you require multiple, you’ll have to pay for them.
Should you fail your initial emissions test, your Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) will detail the exact cause of failure and outline what needs to be fixed. 
It is recommended that you have an Oregon DEQ-recognized repair shop address the problem, but you can ultimately have any mechanic you choose perform the service.
If necessary, you can apply for a 21-day trip permit that will allow you to legally drive your vehicle—even if your registration has expired—as long as you are in the process of getting the issue fixed and your car reinspected. A 21-day trip permit will cost you $30.

How to save on car insurance in Oregon

While you wait for your car to (hopefully) pass emissions testing, why not take some time to see whether you could be paying less for your vehicle’s current insurance policy? 
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FAQs

No, you don’t need to undergo emissions testing every year in Oregon, but you will need to schedule testing every two years if you live in Portland or the Medford/Ashland metro areas. 
If your vehicle is registered in Portland and was manufactured after 1974, or if your vehicle is registered in Medford/Ashland and was built within the last 20 years, you will need to regularly schedule emissions testing.
Generally speaking, the only way to legally avoid emissions testing in Oregon is if you drive a vehicle that is exempt from such inspections, such as an all-electric vehicle or any car manufactured before the 1975 model year. 
If your car is not exempt from emissions testing, it’s in your best interest not to circumvent the legal requirements—it could result in your registration renewal being denied.
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff.
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