Questions about Vehicle Emissions Testing

If you have any other questions, please visit a Customer Service Representative at any full service testing stations, or call the Illinois EPA at (800) 635-2380, or check this website for updates.

Why does the vehicle emissions test program exist?

The Illinois EPA's vehicle emissions test program improves air quality and public health.The federal Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 requires emissions testing programs in large, metropolitan areas which do not meet certain federal air quality standards. Although Illinois has made significant strides to clean its air since the Amendments took effect, levels of air pollution in Chicago and Metro-East St. Louis areas still exceed these standards.

Why is it important to reduce emissions?

Motor vehicle emissions are a significant source of pollution, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that may cause dizziness, difficulty in breathing and death. Hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides combine with sunlight to form ground level ozone (smog). Ozone can aggravate health problems for people with heart disease and breathing-related diseases such as asthma and emphysema. It can be especially harmful to children and the elderly.

What vehicles are subject to vehicle emissions inspection?

Generally, most 1996 and newer gasoline-powered passenger vehicles are subject to testing after they are four years old. 2007 model year and newer heavy duty trucks, with a manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) between 8,501 and 14,000, are also subject to testing.
Diesel powered vehicles, vehicles powered exclusively by electricity, and certain other vehicles are not required to test. Check the Exempt Vehicles List for details.

What areas of the state are testable for vehicle emissions?

Vehicles registered in specific ZIP codes in the Northeastern Illinois and Metro-East St. Louis areas are subject to testing. The table below lists these testable areas by county or portions of counties. Exempt areas are identified by specific Zip codes.

CountyZip Codes
CookAll
DupageAll
LakeAll
KaneAll except 60109, 60119, 60135, 60140, 60142, 60144, 60147, 60151, 60152, 60178, 60182, 60511, 60520, 60545 and 60554.
KendallAll except 60447, 60512, 60536, 60537, 60541, those parts of 60543 that are not within the census defined urbanized area, 60545 and 60560.
McHenryAll except 60001, 60033, 60034, 60071, 60072, 60097, 60098, 60142, 60152, and 60180.
WillAll except 60401, 60407, 60408, 60410, 60416, 60418, 60421, 60442, 60447, 60468, 60481, 60935, and 69050.
MadisonAll except 62001, 62012, 62021, 62026, 62046, 62058, 62061, 62067, 62074, 62088, 62097, 62249, 62275 and 62281.
MonroeAll except 62244, 62248, 62256, 62261, 62276, 62278, 62279, 62295, and 62298.
St. ClairAll except 62224, 62243, 62248, 62254, 62255, 62257, 62258, 62260, 62264, 62265, 62269, 62278, 62282, 62285, 62289 and 62298.

Why is my vehicle being tested?

Vehicles are tested in this area to verify that the vehicle's emissions control systems are performing properly. Vehicle emissions testing programs are designed to identify vehicles that need to be repaired to meet emissions standards.

What kind of test is used?

An On-Board Diagnostic test (OBD) is used for 1996 and newer passenger cars and light duty trucks (including vans, sport utility vehicles and hybrids). An OBD test is also used for 2007 model year heavy-duty trucks.

Where can I take my vehicle for testing?

You must take your vehicle to an Air Team test station. Please refer to your test notice or check this web site for station locations, maps, and operating hours.

How often will my vehicle need to be tested?

Vehicles begin testing when the vehicle is four years old. For example, a 2003 car should be tested in 2007, 2009, 2011, etc. In certain cases, a vehicle may need to be inspected if it was not in compliance when acquired by a new owner, or when the vehicle is newly registered in a test area.

I've noticed that my vehicle's test month has changed - why is that?

The Vehicle Emissions Inspection Law of 2005 provides that beginning in January 2008, vehicles must pass an emissions test or otherwise comply with the law before the vehicle's license plates can be renewed. Implementing new provisions of this law will result in some vehicles being scheduled for testing a few months earlier or later than its previous test month.

Why doesn't this program test diesel powered vehicles?

The federal Clean Air Act does not require the inclusion of diesel-powered vehicles in emissions testing programs. However, the State of Illinois has implemented a program to inspect certain heavy-duty diesel powered trucks over 16,000 lbs in ozone non-attainment areas. This program is administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Does this program test heavy-duty vehicles?

Vehicle Emissions testing is required on all 2007 or newer model year heavy duty vehicles with a manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) between 8,501 and 14,000.

Why aren't newer vehicles given an exhaust and gas cap test?

OBD testing has replaced exhaust and gas cap testing on 1996 and newer vehicles equipped with standardized OBDsystems. Thissystem continually monitors the operation of the vehicle's emissions control system. The OBD test identifies the existence of emissions-related problems by retrieving emissions related fault codes stored on the vehicle's on-board computer.

Can the lane inspector manipulate the test to get a pass instead of a fail?

No. All emissions tests are performed utilizing computerized test equipment. Testing procedures and pass/fail determinations are automated and cannot be manipulated by the lane inspector.The inspector must follow specific, predetermined test procedures.

What happens if my vehicle fails the test?

If your vehicle fails, the inspector will give you a Vehicle Inspection Reportcontaining detailed test results. The vehicle will need to be repaired and returned for a re-test. The inspector will also provide a copy of the Repair Shop Report Card (RSRC) which contains additional information and lists of repair facilities that have demonstrated success in performing emissions-related repairs. The Illinois EPA recommends that these repairs be made by a technician who is trained and experienced in emissions diagnosis and repair.

How can I qualify for a waiver?

A waiver may be issued by a Customer Service Representative at a full-service test station if all of the following requirements are met:

  • The vehicle has failed the initial test and at least one retest;
  • The vehicle has received all repairs and adjustments for which it is eligible under any emission performance warranty provided under federal law;
  • All of the vehicle's emission control devices are present and appear to be properly connected and operating;
  • An expenditure of at least $450 in emissions-related repairs has been made (exclusive of any repairs related to tampering);
  • The repairs were performed by a recognized repair technician (for 1981 and newer model-year vehicles);and,
  • Evidence of repair is presented, consisting of either (i) signed and dated receipts identifying the vehicle and describing the work performed and the amount charged for the eligible emission related repairs or (ii) an affidavit executed by the person performing the eligible emission related repairs.

Why was my vehicle rejected?

Vehicles can be rejected from the test lanes for a variety of reasons. Most frequent reasons for rejection include: the OBD monitors were not ready; the repair form was not properly completed; the vehicle was exempt from testing;the wrong vehicle was brought in for testing; and the vehicle was brought in too early. Rejects do not count as tests. You can read a description of these and other reasons why vehicles can be rejected.