Frequently Asked Questions


Which vehicles must be tested?

All gasoline and diesel-fueled vehicles, including flexible fuel and hybrid vehicles, equal to or less than 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), 25 years old or newer from the current testing year, and registered within an E-Check county must comply with the E-Check requirement.  All even model year vehicles must test in even-numbered years.  All odd model year vehicles must test in odd-numbered years.

New vehicles are exempt for the first four model years.

For more information, please visit our Need a Test? Web site.

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Why does my vehicle need to be tested?

Automobiles are a major contributor to ground level ozone. In Ohio, the E-Check program is the most cost-effective method of reducing volatile organic compounds, and maintaining the required air quality. High pollution levels not only affect the future health of Ohioans, but also make it more difficult to draw new business and create jobs in our communities. The E-Check program will help provide a healthy future and a strong economy for Ohioans and their families.

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Why is the Ohio E-Check program important to Ohio's economy?

The E-Check program is a key component of the ten year maintenance plan to protect air quality while allowing for ten years of economic growth. With the pollution reductions achieved by the E-Check program, there is more room for new businesses to bring jobs to Ohio and for existing businesses to expand.

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What counties are included in the Ohio E-Check program?

The 7 Ohio counties currently participating in the program include: Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit.

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What is necessary for new residents?

New Ohio residents to Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, or Summit counties:

If moving into an E-Check county one of the following process must be followed to register a vehicle in the State of Ohio:

  • The owner of the vehicle must go to the title bureau and request the VIN verification inspection only.  The owner will pay $3.50 for the inspection.
    • After the VIN inspection has been completed, the owner will take the vehicle to an E-Check station for testing.  The owner will need to present the VIN Inspection Certificate to receive a free test.  If the VIN Inspection Certificate is not presented, one of the following must be presented:
      • Ohio title
      • Ohio memorandum of title
      • Ohio lease agreement with the VIN and your Ohio address listed on it
      • Ohio temporary registration
    • After passing the emissions test, the owner of the vehicle should return to the title bureau and obtain an Ohio title.  The owner can also obtain the required registration from the registrar.
  • Purchase a voucher for $18.00 at the station or from Envirotest Systems.  After completing the registration process, the motorist will be eligable for a refund.  For more information on the voucher process, click here.
  • The owner of the vehicle must obtain a new Ohio driver's license with the updated address.  After obtaining the license, take the license, current vehicle registration, and the vehicle to the testing station.  After passing the emissions test, the owner of the vehicle will be able to obtain an Ohio title and registration.

Ohio residents moving into an E-Check county must bring one of the following:

  • Purchase a voucher from Envirotest for $18. Vouchers may be purchased at the stations or via phone at 1-800-CAR-TEST
    • Proceed to the E-Check station and have the vehicle tested. The voucher must be presented at the time of the test.
    • After passing the emissions test, the owner can obtain the required registration from the registrar.
    • After passing the emissions test, a reimbursement for the cost of the test can be obtained from Envirotest. For refund information, call 1-800-CAR-TEST.
  • New temporary registration showing your new address (30-day temporary tag)
  • The owner of the vehicle must update their Ohio driver's license with the updated address.  After obtaining a new license or postcard from the Ohio BMV with the updated information, take the license or postcard, current vehicle registraion, and the vehicle to the testing station.  After passing the emissions test, the owner of the vehicle will be able to obtain the required registration.

*Please note that Ohio residents are only required to test if the current year corresponds with your vehicle's normal testing year.  The paragraph below will help you determine if your vehicle needs a test.

Testing is required for even year vehicle models in even years and odd year vehicle models in odd years (i.e. a 2002 model year vehicle is required to test in 2012, a 2001 vehicle is not required to test in 2012). If the vehicle is not required to test for registration purposes, proceed to the registration bureau and register as usual.

 

 

 

 


What type of testing is required for diesel vehicles?

All diesel-fueled vehicles equaling 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight rating or less must be tested through the E-Check program if they are registered in one of the 7 E-Check counties. Model year 1996 and older diesel-fueled vehicles are given an opacity test to determine the "density" of the exhaust emitted from the vehicle's tailpipe. Opacity is defined as the percentage of light transmitted from a source which is prevented from reaching a light detector. The major environmental concern with diesel-fueled vehicles is the particulate matter emitted as a result of combustion. Particulate matter includes microscopic particles and tiny droplets of liquid. Because of their small size, these particles are not stopped in the nose and upper lungs and may end up in the lower lungs. These particles can then become trapped and cause irritation. Exposure to particulate matter can cause wheezing and similar symptoms in people with asthma or other forms of Chronic Lung Disease.

Beginning January 5, 2004, model year 1997 and newer diesel-fueled vehicles will undergo the OBD II test, instead of the tailpipe test. For more information on OBD II, please see the OBD II FAQ.

If a diesel-fueled vehicle cannot be driven on the dynamometer due to conditions such as all-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, etc., then it is given an idle snap test.  This is a test where the vehicle remains in neutral or park, and the engine is revved to produce emissions.  The dynamometer is not utilized during this method of testing. 

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How far in advance can I have my vehicle tested?

An E-Check compliance certificate is good for 365 days, so it is possible to have your vehicle tested up to one year in advance of your registration date.  It is often helpful to test early when you know that you will not be in Ohio when it is time to renew.The certificate must be valid thru vehicle registration expiration date.

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Who can take my vehicle in for a test?

Any motorist may take a vehicle requiring an emission test to the testing station.  Ohio EPA recommends that the motorist take the vehicle title or registration to ensure a smooth testing process.

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How often will my vehicle need to be tested?

Vehicles are required to be tested every two years. Vehicles with an even-number model year will be inspected in even years. For example, a 2004 vehicle will be tested in 2012, 2014, etc. Vehicles with an odd-number model year will be inspected in odd years. For example, a 2005 vehicle will be tested in 2011, 2013, etc. Since the compliance certificate is good for 365 days, we recommend that you have your vehicle tested far in advance of the registration expiration date.

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Where can I find the testing history of a vehicle?

 

Ohio EPA will provide motorists with the Ohio testing history of a vehicle.  To obtain the Ohio testing history, call Ohio EPA at (614) 644-3059 with the vehicle identification number. To learn if the vehicle has a valid test, motorists may contact the Ohio E-Check hotline at 1-800-CAR-TEST.

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How will I be notified about the test?

You will be notified by mail approximately 90 days before your registration expires. The mailer will provide you with station hours, and a phone number to call for more information.

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Are there any restrictions on where I can have my vehicle tested?

No.  You may have your vehicle tested in any of the Ohio E-Check stations located in one of the 7 E-Check counties, regardless of where the vehicle is registered.

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Do I need to make an appointment before taking my vehicle to a test station?

No. Vehicles are tested on a first-come, first-served basis. No appointments are necessary.

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What if I purchase a used vehicle?

If the seller of the vehicle supplies you with a valid E-Check compliance certificate, the vehicle does not need to be tested again. If the vehicle does not have a valid E-Check compliance certificate, you must have the vehicle tested prior to registering the vehicle. If the buyer is unsure whether the vehicle has a valid certificate, please contact 1-800-CAR-TEST with the vehicle identification number.  Please note that if the vehicle is within the first four model year exemption period, no test is required.

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Will I still be able to get my registration by mail?

Yes. Simply mail the emissions test certificate with your renewal notice and registration fee.

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What will my vehicle be tested for (tailpipe test only)?

The E-Check tailpipe test measures your vehicle's emissions under various operating conditions. It is designed to measure levels of hydrocarbon (HC), carbon monoxide (CO), and oxides of nitrogen (NOx). Vehicles will be required to meet emissions standards established for the year the vehicle was manufactured.

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If my vehicle does not pass the test, will the test center make necessary repairs?

No, the test centers do not make repairs. You may take your vehicle to a service facility of your choice to have necessary repairs made.

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Do I have to pay if my vehicle fails the test?

In accordance with House Bill (H.B.) 119, a motorist may receive up to 3 free tests within a 365 day period.  The fourth test, and all thereafter, the motorist will be charged $18 for the test. Only one free passing test is permitted per 365 day period.

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Are there specific repair facilities licensed by Ohio EPA to make emissions repairs?

Ohio EPA licenses repair shops and certifies repair technicians within the 7 E-Check counties. Technicians are trained and certified in areas of emission diagnosis and repairs. The technicians must complete a high-quality training program developed by the Training Repair Industry Advisory Group (TRIAG) and Ohio EPA to become Ohio certified E-Check repair technicians. Licensed E-Check repair facilities must employ at least one certified E-Check repair technician and maintain the following equipment:

Reference Materials
DVOM or Digital Multi-Meter
Vacuum Gauge
Fuel Pressure Test Kit
Carbon Cleaner System
3.5 or 5 Gas Analyzer
Scan Tool
Basic Ignition Scope with DIS capabilities

If a vehicle fails the test, the motorist will be given a complete list of all licensed repair stations in the area.

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What if my vehicle continues to fail the test?

Motorists are eligible to receive one of two types of waivers, depending on the results of repairs performed on failing vehicles. For information on these waivers, please go to our page on Waivers, Extensions and Exemptions.

 

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Why isn't testing required in all states? in all 88 Ohio counties?

Automobile emissions testing is required in all or part of 33 states to help maintain the federal air quality standard.  Areas that were in moderate non attainment or worse for ozone in 1990 are included in Ohio's E-Check program. These areas include the metropolitan statistical areas of Cleveland/Akron. These areas need to reduce ozone air pollution in order to maintain healthy air quality and to accommodate economic growth. E-Check complements industrial controls in these areas to maintain healthy air quality. Without E-Check, additional requirements could be imposed on industry, limiting the area's ability to attract new jobs and broaden the tax base.

Ohio EPA does not have the authority to implement or require testing of vehicles registered outside the 7 counties. Ohio's legislators did not give Ohio EPA the authority to implement an automobile emissions testing program in all Ohio counties.

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Why must we test when vehicles are operating more cleanly today than ever before?

It is true, an automobile manufactured in 2000 runs more cleanly than the new vehicles of 1970. Automobile manufacturers have complied with more stringent emissions standards set by the federal government each year. New emissions devices combined with unleaded fuel have improved auto emissions during the past twenty-seven years; however, manufacturers still have no control over routine maintenance of a vehicle once it leaves a showroom.

From 1970 to 2000, U.S. population increased 35 percent and vehicle miles traveled increased 127 percent. Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles records indicate there were 5,201,307 registrations in 1970 compared to 13,036,965 registrations in 2012. Transportation sources are the most prevalent cause of volatile organic compound emissions which combine with sunlight to create ground level ozone. Auto emissions can have adverse health effects on Ohio citizens.

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I had my vehicle tested last year when I purchased it; why do I have to test it again this year?

When the title of a vehicle is transferred and the new owner wishes to register that vehicle, a passing E-Check test may be required for registration. The vehicle then begins being tested biennially based on model year.  In some cases, when a motorist purchases a used vehicle, an emissions test may be required in two successive years. For example, if a 2005 vehicle was purchased in 2012, the motorist would be required to provide a passing test certificate to register the vehicle. In 2013, the vehicle would be required to test again based on the odd model year testing schedule. If the passing test certificate from the 2012 test is more than 365 days old at the time of registration, the vehicle will be required to test again.  If the test certificate from 2012 is still valid at the time of registration, the vehicle will not have to be tested in 2013.

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My vehicle failed at one test station and I drove to another station and it passed. Is there something wrong with your equipment at the first station (tailpipe test only)?

In accordance with the contract documents, the E-Check contractor is required to verify calibration of each test lane on a daily basis before system startup. The contractor is required to perform other daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly tests or calibrations to ensure the system is operating properly. In addition, the gas analyzer readings are compared regularly with others in the system to determine the uniformity of the test equipment and to ensure motorists receive a fair test regardless of the location of the test facility. Not only does Ohio EPA field staff regularly verify these calibration records, but they conduct field testing of lane equipment for proper operation.

Many failing vehicles experience inconsistent operating conditions due to intermittent failure of various emissions parts. The inconsistent operating condition of an engine will cause emissions readings to vary and may cause a vehicle to fail the E-Check tailpipe test one minute and pass several minutes later with no repairs having been performed between tests. A vehicle not fully warmed up may emit more pollutants than a vehicle operating at normal temperatures. In order to minimize problems associated with intermittent failures, Ohio EPA recommends motorists have routine maintenance items checked and operate the vehicles at least 15 minutes prior to being tested. 

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My vehicle does not emit smoke and there isn't a spot of rust, why does it need to be tested?

Many motorists believe that a vehicle which does not emit smoke and has an immaculate paint job is a well-maintained vehicle. Outward appearance of a vehicle is not an accurate indication of how well the vehicle's engine has been or is maintained. The pollutants detected by the E-Check test are odorless, nearly colorless and therefore, undetectable by the naked eye. If a vehicle does not pass the E-Check test, the vehicle is not operating "cleanly" with regard to the harmful emissions. If all emissions repairs are made to a vehicle to bring that vehicle into compliance, the motorist generally experiences an improvement in gas mileage. Proper emissions repairs also lengthen vehicle life.

Regardless of age or mileage, vehicles that are maintained in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations have a better chance of passing the emissions test. Passing the E-Check test indicates that your vehicle's emission control system is operating well, polluting less, and consuming less gas.

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Additional questions about the Ohio E-Check Program?
Call 1-800-CAR-TEST or 1-614-644-3059.