Who Needs Emissions Testing in AZ?

car emissions

Arizona has had emissions requirements in place since 1967 when the state’s Department of Health decided that it was time to crack down on air pollution. To this day, some Arizona residents are still bound by the Mandatory Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program.

The problem is that the Arizona emission testing requirements don’t impact everyone equally. This leaves many Arizona drivers confused about whether or not they need to get their vehicles tested.

We’re here to clear the air. In this guide, we’ll cover everything from specific emissions testing to requirements to standard state exemptions.

Read on to find out if Arizona emission testing requirements apply to you.

Arizona Emission Testing Requirements

There are several types of inspections you may need to get for your motor vehicle in the state of Arizona. Let’s take a look at Arizona emissions laws and who they apply to. Keep in mind that many Arizona residents are exempt, so you may not need an emissions test at all.

Which Counties Require Emission Testing?

Currently, emissions tests are designed to reduce pollution in the regions of the country where air pollution is at its highest. Unsurprisingly, these areas are high-density urban areas, where thousands of cars are on the road at all hours of the day.

If you live in Tuscon or Phoenix areas, you may need to get emissions testing. More specifically, emission testing is required for certain residents in:

  • Pima County
  • Maricopa County

You will also have to get emission testing if you don’t live in these counties but commute to them on a regular basis. This will include anyone who works or goes to school in Pima or Maricopa County.

Which Vehicles Must Undergo Emission Testing?

Living or commuting in Pima and Maricopa County doesn’t inherently mean that you will need to get a regular emissions test. Emission testing is reserved for motor vehicles that have a higher risk of polluting the air.

You may need to get regular emissions testing if your car is:

  • built in 1967 or later
  • more than five years old

If your car requires emissions testing, you will need to get it done in a timely manner, even if you are out of state. If you have your car with you, find an emissions testing center in the state you’re in. If your car is in Arizona, any licensed driver can bring it in for emissions testing. 

How to Avoid Emissions Testing in AZ

If your car falls under the requirements for emissions testing, there is no avoiding it. Some (but not all) drivers who are out of state when their emissions test comes up may get a waiver. Some (but not all) drivers who fail the emissions test may also receive a waiver.

There are also many motor vehicles that are exempt from emissions testing even if they fit the criteria we’ve listed above. These include:

Remember, you are also exempt if you live, work, and/or go to school outside of Pima and Maricopa County, if your car was built earlier than 1967, or if your car is currently less than five years old.

How Often Do Vehicles Need to Be Tested?

For drivers whose vehicles meet the requirements for emissions testing in Arizona, it’s not always easy to determine when you need to have your vehicle tested. Most of the time, you will need to have your vehicle tested every year or every other year.

You should receive a notice that your emissions test is up for renewal. If you believe that you qualify for a waiver, you must contact the Arizona DMV immediately.

Getting Your Arizona Emissions Test

If your car doesn’t require emissions testing, you’re in the clear. If you believe that your vehicle will require an emissions test, keep reading. We’ll talk about how to get your car tested, what to expect, and more.

Finding a Testing Location

The good news is that Arizona provides emissions testing locations all over the state and you can locate your nearest test facility and track wait times online.

Keep in mind that these testing facilities don’t take appointments. Instead, they operate on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Types of Emission Tests

All qualifying vehicles will undergo basic emissions testing, which includes an inspection of dashboard lights, gas caps, and other emissions control components. There are four additional types of emissions tests:

  • IM 147 testing
  • steady speed/idle testing
  • on-board diagnostic testing
  • opacity testing

The test you need will depend on the type of vehicle you have. For example, opacity testing is reserved for diesel vehicles, excluding light-duty diesel vehicles built after 1996.

Failed Emission Tests

If your vehicle fails the emissions test, you will receive failure codes from the inspection personnel. You will need to take these codes to a sponsored vehicle repair facility within 60 days of receiving them.

Once you do so, the repair facility will explain the required repairs and provide an estimate. You will be responsible for a $100 copay and the state will cover additional expenses up to $900. Once the repairs are complete, have your vehicle retested.

Need More Motor Vehicle Services? GG&D Can Help

Many Arizonans are unclear on Arizona emission testing requirements. We hope that this guide has cleared the air and given you the information needed to determine if your vehicle requires emission testing.

At GG&D, we offer a wide variety of motor vehicle services including title transfers, registration renewals, temporary permitting, and more. As a 3rd part MVD, we can save you a lot of time and hassle. Take a look at our locations to find the GG&D nearest you.


GG&D provides complete full service vehicle registration & title services. Driver License & ID Services available at all GG&D locations.


GG&D Motor Vehicle Services, LLC was a founding member of the 3rd Party Motor Vehicle Association. We offer vehicle title transfers, license plate replacement, motor vehicle registration, duplicate titles, notary services, temporary permits and other MVD Arizona services. GG&D has locations in Phoenix, Glendale, and Mesa. Find a location near you!

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