Illinois Emissions Guide

Getting your car smogged can be frustrating, especially if you don’t know why, where, or how. Luckily, the rules for emissions in Illinois are fairly clear-cut and can be summed up easily.

In most counties in Illinois, emissions testing is required every two years for vehicles older than four years and built after 1996. Without certification, you won’t be able to renew your registration.

Illinois employs the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for its emissions inspections. The counties that do not meet these standards are the ones that require testing. These are usually the denser and more populated areas of the state.

Which Counties Require Testing?

Only a handful of counties in Illinois require smog testing, and even fewer require it in every zip code. 

Dupage, Cook, and Lake county are the three where every zip code will be required to smog their cars.

The following counties have varying rules depending on zip code:

  • Kendall
  • Monroe
  • Kane
  • Madison
  • McHenry
  • Will
  • St. Clair

If you reside in any of these counties and are unaware of the rules for your zip code, check the official Illinois Emissions website for more information. 

Where do I get an Emission Test in Illinois?

Are you due for your emissions testing? Finding a testing center close to you is easy. 

There are certified testing centers all over the county where testing is required. After finding a testing center, set up an appointment and bring in your vehicle. Following the test, given that you’ve passed, they will give you proof of passing the test that you can present to the DMV.

How do I Prepare?

There are a few preliminary steps you can take to make your experience getting emissions testing go smoothly:

  • Make sure your OBD-II port is functional and accessible. This will make things go much quicker if there were to be an issue.
  • Schedule a few weeks in advance to make sure you’re not waiting on other vehicles. You can save a lot of time in the long run by ensuring you don’t have to wait for other inspections.
  • Repair obvious exhaust/emissions system damage before going. Self-explanatory maybe, but there’s no way you pass with a hole in your exhaust or catalytic converter.
  • Have any check engine lights been diagnosed before going? It could be warning you about a problem in your emissions system.

How do the Tests Work?

Since 2007, most testing centers in the state use OBD tests to check emissions. 

Cars following 1996 (the earliest that need to be smogged in most cases) are required to have OBD-II ports that the shop can pull data from to carry out your test. 

The OBD reader looks at all the essential emissions parts that could be worn out or faulty and allow your car to produce too much smog. Some of these parts include the catalytic converters, exhaust gas recirculation valve (EGR), and certain parts of the fuel system. 

A visual inspection is carried out to look for any obvious problems with the parts important to emissions and safety.

Catalytic converter

What if I Fail?

If your vehicle fails emissions testing, one of these parts in your emissions system is faulty or worn out. The necessary repairs will need to be made to test again and pass.

Driving without proof of emissions testing is not only bad for the environment, but it’s also bad for your wallet. Fines can reach over $300.

Not only do you have to worry about fines regarding emissions, but you won’t be able to renew your registration without testing. Driving with an expired registration can result in $90 fines, or even your car being impounded, resulting in expensive storage fees. 

If you complete a large number of repairs on your vehicle and still don’t pass, you may be eligible for a repair waiver. A repair waiver is an exception granted by the state if you exceed a minimum number of repairs and still do not pass. 

If you’re not able to afford the repairs, the Illinois Hardship Waiver may be able to grant you an exception from getting emissions testing for a year after it was originally required. 

Does my Car Need to be Tested?

All cars produced after 1996 but older than four years need to be tested for emissions. The majority of vehicles built before 1996 are not required to be tested, so long as they are compliant with the Illinois Vehicle Emissions Inspection law. 

There are a few exemptions for certain vehicles. Diesel and electric cars do not need to be tested. Motorcycles, scooters, or mopeds are also free from the need to get an inspection. 

Emissions Service at Becker Service Center

Are you failing to pass smog? Come visit us here at Becker Service Center to get a high-quality inspection and repair so you can pass your emissions test.

Call or schedule an appointment online today to meet with our ASE-certified technicians and friendly team!