Skip to main content
Hero background

Moving To A State With Emissions Testing: What Drivers Need To Know

When you move from a state or municipality that does not have emissions testing to a state or municipality that does have emissions testing, you might might be concerned over the potential of your vehicle not passing emissions testing. But most vehicles successfully pass emissions tests while others are exempted.

Vehicles less than one or two years old and classic vehicles generally do not require emissions tests. If you own a newer vehicle that is in good shape, which you have maintained regularly, your vehicle likely will pass. The most common cause of failing emissions testing is having something wrong with the exhaust system. Many times, it is either a bad exhaust pipe or possibly a manifold gasket that results in less than efficient emissions.

Another possibility might be the catalytic converter, which can be a costly repair if one needs to be replaced. In more extreme cases, a problem with the exhaust valves in an engine might cause a test failure, which generally would cost more to fix than replacing a catalytic converter. It is possible for a vehicle in good running condition to fail an emissions test if you have not let it warm up enough. For a catalytic converter to work properly, it must be at its normal operating temperature. If you live near the testing station, the drive over may not allow your vehicle enough time to warm up, and it will fail the test. Ensuring your vehicle is at normal operating temperature is the best way to avoid a false test result.

Some states do not require statewide emissions testing, although it may be mandatory in locations with larger populations. For example, Wisconsin does not have a statewide requirement for emissions testing, but it is required in southeastern Wisconsin where the population density is greater than the rest of Wisconsin. You can learn about emissions testing in other states and take a DMV practice test for licensing online at