The unnecessary emissions test

I bought bottles of Iso-heet and STP gas treatment, filled up, drove around for a couple of hours - the emissions test guy told me my pickup ('87) was too old to be tested. I hadn’t opened the notice from the MVD - he was right. He wouldn’t test unless it needed it; the machines are tied into the state’s system. I can pollute all I want? That doesn’t make sense.

A lot of states don’t test vehicles over 25 years old, some don’t test for the first 10 years either.

Then you have states that don’t test at all.

1 Like

Another cutoff-1995 and older (pre-OBD II) require rollers for a test, lots of shops don’t have those now.

Why would you ever think this would make sense?

Washington hasn’t required any emissions testing since January 1st 2020, Before that it was mainly Pierce County up to Snohomish County with the exception of Clark County across the Columbia River from Portland Oregon. Testing stopped when the car hit 25yrs old.

Old farts can fart as much as they want, so why not old cars.


Random—Where are you located? I think you have posted your location in the past, I just don’t remember.
Requirements change, in the apples to oranges comparisons, where I level in CA in the late 80s, any pollution equipment that the car was equipped with at time of manufacturing must be present, then only a tailpipe emissions was done, that was performed only when vehicle was sold.
Again, apples to oranges—Florida—no testing whatsoever.

1 Like

In VA depending on where, if it’s required, if the car is OBD II they just plug it in and if no codes present and the appropriate monitors are set, it passes, no tailpipe stick. Who knows maybe you still could have out of range tailpipe emissions anyways. Don’t remember what is done for pre OBD II, I haven’t had one of those in years.

In North Carolina it used to be 35. But in 2019 they changed it to 30 years. I have a 1975 vintage Suzuki road bike (GT750). I no longer have to get an inspection.

NC only has an emissions check in the bigger cities. I live in the Outer Banks (a Coastal county) and we do not have emissions here. Only a safety inspection.

Never seen that. Not in NM.


I lived in LA county, which required regular testing. When I moved to Mono county only when purchased.

I thought it was funny, an all-dressed-up-and-nowhere-to-go moment. I had been conditioned by 20 years of biennial tests that I didn’t even open up the notice. I wanted a test but the guy’s equipment wouldn’t do it.

It seems the DMV and the city web sites are outdated, or is your truck a 1986 model year vehicle?

It’s a cost benefit thing. Older vehicles may cost more to test, and cost more to repair to specification. So higher cost.

Old cars are driven less, and their owners will be more upset and likely to complain that their classic that is driven 500 miles per year can’t be licensed for legal reasons. So there is less benefit in enforcing it. Also, Someone who has a 25+ year old car that fails inspection might decide to sell it for a 1974 classic that has no emissions controls at all. So the emissions situation could even be made worse! Also, if someone maintains a 25 year old car, perhaps they keep the emissions under control themselves without needing to be forced to?

1 Like

It seems the VA DEQ ( ) hasn’t updated the requirements on their site in at least 20 years. In the requirements section it says cars over 25 model years old are exempt. But later in the section it say pre 1980 cars are subject to a 2 speed idle test. By my math pre 1980 would be over 40 model years old.

Also, the number of 25+ year old cars is so small that they are not a significant part of the pollution problem.


IIRC, even the state-run inspection stations in NJ removed the roller equipment several years ago.

1 Like


And very few of those old vehicles are driven much. You use your bicycle most of the time. Unless it’s leaking fluids, you truck doesn’t pollute when it’s parked.

But that doesn’t change the cost benefit ratio on its own. If 10 cars cost $100 each to test, or 10000 cars cost $100 each, the ratio is the same. What does change the ratio is the cost to maintain the testing equipment might be the same whether they test 10 cars a week or 140. And of course these old cars are driven way less and don’t pollute much due to that.

You are correct. When i took my 62 Caddy in for inspection the only emissons part of the test was to check for visible smoke from the tailpipe.

Here’s a funny story. I am 65 and I attended Arizona State for 1 semester (don’t ask) in early 1978.

I bought my first motorcycle, a 1972 Suzuki GT380 two stroke. When I got my plate the DMV person said: "You have to get it emissions tested and here’s where you go.

I show up and the tester sticks the probe up one of the tailpipes. He says: “OK, rev it up!”. When I do so the garage fills up with 2 stoke smoke and he says: “OK, yer good to go!” What highway robbery!

Also in AZ, on more than one occasion while taking my work diesel truck through yearly emissions testing, if one would fail, I’d just drive around the building, get back in a different line, and a different employee would test the truck and it would pass. Mind boggling.

and for AZ, we still have rollers for anything pre-2001 (I think,) and anything 3/4 ton rated or above. My 2500 pickup and 3500 Van have to go on the rollers.