WA Inspections, Smog, & Emissions

It has become public knowledge that motor vehicles are a primary source of pollution – a fact that has been verified by the Washington Department of Ecology, which you can visit online at www.ecy.wa.gov. For this reason, it is a requirement for certain vehicles in Washington to undergo inspections to ensure that there are no flaws or malfunctions that could be causing more pollution than the average vehicle is expected to. Before Washington vehicle registration is possible within the higher pollution ranking counties of Washington, emissions inspection is a requirement that cannot be ignored.

What Vehicles Are Required to Complete Washington Emissions Testing?

There are vehicles that are considered to be exempt from the Washington emissions inspection requirements, such as the new model hybrids that can reach 50mpg or more. However, all other gas or diesel powered vehicles between 5 and 25 model years old must be inspected before registration in Washington is possible within these more polluted counties:

  • Spokane
  • King
  • Pierce
  • Clark
  • Snohomish

The vehicle is only required to complete such testing biannually. When you receive your registration renewal notice in the mail, it will indicate whether or not retesting is needed to renew your registration.

While registration is the most common reason for completing emissions testing in Washington, there are other vehicle situations that may also require such testing.

  • For transferring title of vehicle when ownership has changed, unless passing through immediate family or a co-owner who was listed with the original owner on the title.
  • For transferring an out-of-state vehicle into a county listed above that requires such testing.

Washington Emissions Testing Details

The state of Washington has several departments to handle different situations, with the Washington Department of Ecology handling vehicle emissions testing in Washington. If you need a test or need to find the right place to complete testing, this is the department to contact or visit online in order to get the information that you need.

Your emissions test costs a fee of $15, which may be paid by cash, check, or credit card.

  • If you want a list of all the Washington emissions test stations and their hours of operation, you can visit Emissions Testing

There are some stations that even provide testing for motor homes and RV’s, but not all will so make sure that you are sure whether the office you visit offers the testing that you need.

If you happen to be out of the state when your emissions testing time comes around, you can complete and submit the Application for Out-of-Area Temporary Exemption from Emissions Testing form which can be downloaded online.

If you are just moving to Washington and have recently had an emissions test in your previous state, it is not going to carry forward to Washington. Only a Washington administered test is acceptable for obtaining registration for your vehicle. If you are not granted an exemption from your Washington smog check, you must complete the test within 15 days of bringing your vehicle back to Washington.

Failing Washington Emissions Test

If your vehicle happens to fail your Washington smog check, the vehicle must be repaired properly in order to bring the vehicle up to Washington state compliance. Great for Washington residents, however, there is a limit placed on the repair amount, which is only $150 before you may be eligible for a repair waver if your vehicle continues to fail the smog check.

Qualifying for Washington Emissions Repair Waiver

If you meet the following criteria, your vehicle may qualify for the Washington emissions repair waiver:

  • You have spent at least $150 or more to repair emission-related issues, completed by authorized Washington emissions specialist.
  • You have the appropriate receipts signed by the authorized emissions specialist to contest to your spending.
  • You can prove that no element of your vehicle that is related to emissions has been altered in any way.
  • Your vehicle has failed a second emissions test after you have had the repairs needed.

This repair waiver will grant you the opportunity to register your vehicle without having to pass emissions, but you must be qualified by the state of Washington.

Reporting Vehicle Polluters

If you are passing by a vehicle with a tailpipe that is smoking more than a freight train, it seems like a good act to report the vehicle. However, the Department of Ecology in Washington does not provide a contact number for such reports. Instead, you can report the drivers to 1-866-548-8371, much like you would report a litter bug.


Choose A State