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Frequently Asked Questions about Colorado's Automobile Inspection Program

 
If you have questions that do not appear in this list,
then please call the Mobile Sources Program at 303-692-3120.
 
 
If your light-duty (8,500 pounds or less gross vehicle weight (GVW)) gasoline-powered vehicle is registered to a mailing address in the Automobile Inspection and Readjustment (AIR) Program area (i.e., all of Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson Counties, and parts of Adams, Arapahoe, Larimer, and Weld Counties)., then you may need an emissions test every two (2) years.
 
Please refer to Air Care Colorado's program area map or contact your county clerk for more specific information.
 
The best way to find this information is when your county clerk sends you your vehicle registration renewal card. It will say one of the following:
 
  • EMISSIONS TEST REQUIRED
    (due by the end of the month in which your current registration expires)
     
  • PASSED ROADSIDE EMISSIONS
    (vehicle was "clean screened" through the RapidScreen Roadside Emissions Testing program)
     
  • NO EMISSIONS TEST REQUIRED
     
  • EMISSIONS EXEMPT
    Some vehicles do not require an emissions test:
    - vehicles that are less than four (4) model years old;
    - alternative fuel vehicles (biofuels, electric, or hybrid-electric);
    - collector vehicles (model year 1975 and older);
    - horseless carriage, street rod, farm, kit cars, and motorcycles. 
.
  • Emissions testing is not required for vehicles that are four (4) model years old or newer.


  • Emissions testing is required when a vehicle changes ownership. Change of ownership requires a new passing emissions certificate supplied by the seller at the time of the sale. This requirement does not aply to vehicles that are four (4) model years old or newer.


  • Emissions tests are required for registration renewal when indicated on your registration renewal card.
    - Model year 1982 and newer vehicles receive an emissions test which is valid for two (2) years.
    - 1981 and older vehicles receive an emissions test valid for one (1) year.


     
  • An emissions test is required when a vehicle moves to (i.e., registers at a new mailing address in) the Automobile Inspection and Readjustment (AIR) program area

     
  • Diesel vehicles are tested as follows:

    • Light-duty vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 14,000 pounds or less are exempt from an emissions test if they are purchased brand new for four (4) model years, and then tested every year after that.

    • 2003 and older vehicles are tested every year.

    • 2004 and newer vehicles are tested every two (2) years.

    • Heavy-duty vehicles with a GVWR of 14,001 and more are exempt from emissions testing if they are purchased brand new for their first four (4) model years, and then tested every two (2) years until it reaches its tenth (10th) year. After that, the vehicle needs to be tested every year.
.
Yes. Please refer to the State of Colorado's Diesel Emissions Control Program page for additional information about testing diesel-powered vehicles.
 
NOTE: Air Care Colorado inspects only gasoline-powered vehicles. Diesel-powered vehicles are inspected through independent diesel emissions testing facilities.
 
  • If you bought a used vehicle from a dealer ...

    You have three (3) business days beginning the day after you took possession of the vehicle to bring it back to the dealer for repairs/repurchase. "Business days" are defined as Monday through Saturday, with the exception of state holidays. The dealer is required by law to repair, pay a third party to repair or repurchase the failed vehicle. The dealer will notify the consumer which of these three options it has chosen within three (3) business days after the vehicle has been returned to the dealer.

    If you do not return the failed vehicle within the initial three-day time period, then the dealer will be relieved of any further responsibility to repair or repurchase the vehicle for compliance with the emissions program.

    Additional information about this situation is available on the Air Care Colorado website.


  • If you bought the vehicle from a private party ...

    The seller must provide the buyer a new Certificate of Emissions Compliance (obtained after passing the emissions test) at the time of sale.

    For additional information about this situation, please contact the
    Colorado Department of Revenue at 303-205-5603.
 
Air Care Colorado has 18 emissions testing stations throughout the Automobile Inspection and Readjustment (AIR) program area. They are located in an effort to be as convenient as possible to the largest number of motorists.
 
Please refer to Air Care Colorado's map for station locations, directions, and current wait times.
 
Yes. Please bring your vehicle and (if possible) registration renewal card with you to the emissions testing station in order to complete the testing process.
 
All Air Care Colorado emissions testing stations are open
8:00 AM to 5:30 PM Monday through Friday,
8:00 AM to 1:00 PM Saturday,
and closed on Sundays and all Colorado state holidays.
 
Please check Air Care Colorado's website and Twitter pages to make sure a station is open before you go to it.
 
The actual emissions test usually takes about 20 minutes. Wait times to take the test vary, so please refer to Air Care Colorado's station map for current wait times at each station.
 
  • Emissions tests for non-exempt light-duty gasoline-powered vehicles model year 1982 and newer cost $25.00, and are required every two (2) years.
     
  • Emissions tests for non-exempt light-duty gasoline-powered vehicles model year 1981 and older cost $15.00, and are required every year.
     
  • The cost for testing diesel-powered vehicles varies between Licensed Diesel Emission Testing Stations pdf file . Diesel inspection stations can charge up to one hour of posted labor rate.
 
Every vehicle sold in the USA since model year 1996 comes equipped with On Board Diagnostics (OBD). This feature helps you quickly determine problems with your vehicle, allowing for quicker repairs and improved performance.
 
Air Care Colorado tests the following components of your vehicle's OBD system:
 
  • Check Engine Light - the primary way your vehicle's OBD system communicates with you. Inspectors check to make sure the light bulb and circuit are functioning properly.
     
  • Command Status - inspectors check to see if the OBD system detects any emissions-related problems, and if it can and does command the Check Engine Light to turn on.
     
  • Diagnostic Trouble Codes - these codes can describe the exact issue(s) that your vehicle is currently experiencing.
     
  • "OBD: Advise" - The OBD system found some problems. These can include communication problems, diagnostic trouble codes, issues with your Check Engine Light, or someting else.
    You should promptly seek further diagnosis and repairs in order to improve vehicle performance, save money, avoid failing your next emissions test, and prevent more serious problems.
 
Air Care Colorado is making OBD a more important part of its emissions testing process, providing you with additional test results and information on your Vehicle Inspection Report.
 
There are a variety of reasons why your vehicle may have failed the emissions test.
Here are the most common reasons:
 
 
Please refer to  Air Care Colorado's Brochure: "My vehicle has failed its Emissions Test ... now what do I do?" pdf file  for additional information.
 
A properly functioning gas cap is an essential part of the vehicle's emissions control system. A missing or leaking gas cap will cause the vehicle to fail the emissions test.
 
The State of Colorado requires a full retest when the vehicle fails initially for a missing or defective gas cap. Replacing the gas cap will affect the vehicle's emissions control capability, and may increases its tailpipe emissions.
 
RapidScreen is Air Care Colorado's roadside emissions testing program. This is an alternative to standard testing at emissions testing stations, allowing you to have your vehicle's emissions screened by driving past a RapidScreen emissions testing system.
 
Additional information about RapidScreen is available through the Air Care Colorado website.
 
Your vehicle should be on for at least 20 minutes (either through driving or idling) before taking the emissions test. The combination of driving to an emissions testing station and waiting in line at the station should usually help to meet this requirement.
 
Idling should be kept to a minimum at all other times. Idling your engine for just one minute produces as much carbon monoxide (CO) as smoking three packs of cigarettes!
 
Find out more about Colorado's efforts to reduce vehicle idling through the Engines Off program.
 
If your light-duty (8,500 pounds or less gross vehicle weight (GVW)) gasoline-powered vehicle is registered to a mailing address in the Automobile Inspection and Readjustment (AIR) Program area (i.e., all of Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson Counties, and parts of Adams, Arapahoe, Larimer, and Weld Counties)., then you may need an emissions test every two (2) years.
 
Please refer to Air Care Colorado's program area map or contact your county clerk for more specific information.
 
The best way to find this information is when your county clerk sends you your vehicle registration renewal card. It will say one of the following:
 
  • EMISSIONS TEST REQUIRED
    (due by the end of the month in which your current registration expires)
     
  • PASSED ROADSIDE EMISSIONS
    (vehicle was "clean screened" through the RapidScreen Roadside Emissions Testing program)
     
  • NO EMISSIONS TEST REQUIRED
     
  • EMISSIONS EXEMPT
    Some vehicles do not require an emissions test:
    - vehicles that are less than four (4) model years old;
    - alternative fuel vehicles (biofuels, electric, or hybrid-electric);
    - collector vehicles (modely year 1975 and older);
    - horseless carriage, street rod, farm, kit cars, and motorcycles. 
.
The emissions testing program in El Paso County was discontinued on January 1, 2007, based on long-term compliance with the U.S. EPA's carbon monoxide standards.
 
Yes. You can report vehicles with excessive smoke to the State of Colorado's
Smoking Vehicle Hotline at 303-692-3211 or cdphe.smokeline.state.co.us.
 
If possible, please include the vehicle's license plate number, and whether it is gasoline- or diesel-powered.
NOTE: this hotline is only for reporting smoking vehicles with Colorado license plates, and not out-of-state plates or temporary tags.
 
"I/M 240" stands for "Inspection and Maintenance - 240 seconds," and refers to the dynamometer (treadmill-like device) found in each lane of the emissions testing station. Vehicles that require I/M 240 testing are driven on to the dynamometer to simulate emissions during a variety of driving conditions (idle, low speed, and high speed) over the course of 240 seconds (4 minutes).
 
Additional information about the I/M 240 test is available at the Air Care Colorado website.
 
Collector's Item vehicles can be passenger cars or trucks that do not exceed 16,000 pounds empty weight and must be at least 32 years old. Such collector's items are registered for a period of five (5) years.
 
House Bill 13-1071 governs vehicles that qualify to register as Collector Vehicles, dividing them into the following categories:  

  • Category A includes model year 1975 and older vehicles. These vehicles are not required to obtain an emissions test, and are not required to sign the DR 2839 Collector’s Item Affidavit to renew. 

  • Category B includes model year 1976 or later vehicles that were registered prior to September 1, 2009. These vehicles are not required to obtain a passing emissions test, and are not required to sign the DR 2839 Collector’s Item Affidavit to renew. These vehicles will remain in Category B until a change of ownership occurs. The new owner may register the vehicle as a Collector Vehicle, but at that time it will be placed into Category C.

  • Category C includes Collector Vehicles that are at least 32 years old.
    In 2013, for example, model year 1981 or older vehicles qualify as Collector's vehicles;
    in 2014, the model year will be 1982;
    in 2015 the model year will be 1983, etc.

    Category C is further divided into the following sub-categories:

Yes. When a vehicle is registered to an address outside the Automobile Inspection and Readjustment (AIR) program area, but regularly drives that vehicle to the program area for employment or to attend school, then an emissions test is required.
 
If you are an out of state Colorado resident, then you must complete an Application for an Affidavit of Emissions Extension (Form DR 2376).  Send the completed form, an emissions test (if testing is performed in the county of temporary residence) and payment to that county's motor vehicle office in Colorado.
 
If emissions testing is not performed in the county of temporary residence, then a Verification of Vehicle Identification Number (VIN - Form 2698) must be included with the extension form.  Any law enforcement officer can complete the VIN verification form.
 
Additional information about VIN Verifications is available through the Colorado Department of Revenue.