Emissions Testing in Texas

Texas Vehicle Emissions Testing Requirements Explained -- Dave’s Ultimate Automotive

It's easy to understand that all vehicles registered in Texas must pass an annual inspection. What might be a bit more confusing for some drivers is the requirement for emissions testing as part of the yearly requirement. For assistance with sorting out the requirements, obtaining an inspection and/or emissions test, and making any needed repairs to bring your car into compliance, you can rely on Dave's Ultimate Automotive in Round Rock, Texas. We have the qualified technicians and appropriate diagnostic equipment needed to help you navigate the inspection/emissions requirement process.

Requirements Overview

Not surprisingly, the annual safety inspection for all registered autos in Texas includes checklist items such as lights, tires, windshield wipers, and horns, among other items. Emissions testing is required for vehicles between two and 24 years old in the following areas:

  • Brazoria
  • Collin
  • Dallas
  • Denton
  • El Paso
  • Ellis
  • Fort Bend
  • Galveston
  • Johnson
  • Kaufman
  • Montgomery
  • Parker
  • Rockwall
  • Travis
  • Round Rock

Differences in Testing

The type of emissions test performed on your vehicle depends upon its age. For modern cars manufactured in or after 1996, emissions are measured through the OBD-II system. A computerized scanning tool is connected to your auto's OBD-II port, generating a report on how well the emissions/exhaust system works. (Chances are that if you have an existing exhaust problem, the check engine light is illuminated.) For older cars (made in 1995 or earlier), technicians measure emissions using the two-speed idle test. This is done by directly measuring what is expelled from the tailpipe. Readings of hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide are taken at both low and high idle speeds.

Exceptions, Exemptions, and Extensions

Beyond the general requirements, there are exceptions, exemptions, and extensions to the emissions testing policy. First, new initially-registered autos receive a two-year certificate and will not need testing until that period expires. Also, vehicles with diesel engines and motorcycles aren't subject to the requirement. Additionally, the regulating state agency can grant a temporary waiver under certain circumstances.

For example, if you spend $600 or more ($450 in El Paso) on emissions-related repairs and if the vehicle isn't deemed to be a significant pollution contributor, you can be given a pass. If you drive a limited number of miles (less than 5,000 since the last test and anticipated to drive less than 5,000 before the next test) and you have spent at least $100 on related repairs during the cycle year, you can get an extension. Other reasons impacting extension can include income level and parts availability. Dave's Ultimate Automotive can help you through the emissions testing requirements and with these possibilities.

Written by Dave's Ultimate Automotive