Each state has laws regarding vehicle safety inspections and emissions testing. All drivers in Connecticut, especially those who are moving to the state or purchasing a vehicle for the first time, should understand their obligations when it comes to vehicle inspections.

While not all vehicles in Connecticut require a safety inspection, there is a list of those that do. The safety inspection laws are designed to target vehicles that are most likely to be defective, dangerous, or otherwise unsafe to drive.

If you or someone you love was injured in a car accident, do not hesitate to contact a fast-working personal injury lawyer with Gould Injury Law. It is possible that the other driver could be guilty of operating a vehicle that was unsafe to drive or not properly inspected.

The skilled and aggressive members of “The Fast Firm” can thoroughly investigate the cause of your accident and ensure that you get the financial compensation you deserve. Call 888-WIN-FAST to schedule your free consultation.

When Does the State of Connecticut Require Vehicle Safety Inspections?

Safety inspections are one way to ensure that each vehicle on the road is maintained for safe operation. Some states mandate that all vehicles receive annual safety inspections, which can help prevent vehicles from failing on the highway, which can lead to accidents and injuries.

A vehicle safety inspection involves a thorough examination of parts to ensure that everything is working properly. All areas of the vehicle will be inspected, including the interior, under the hood, the bodywork, and under the vehicle.

The following vehicles are required to receive a safety inspection when registering them in the State of Connecticut for the first time:

  • Composite vehicle (modified antique and street rod vehicles)
  • Vehicles with a salvage title
  • Taxis
  • Camping vehicles and trailers
  • Commercial vehicles over 18,000 pounds
  • Certain imported vehicles
  • Driver education vehicles
  • Service and schools buses
  • Student transportation vehicles
  • Homemade trailers (unless previously titled out-of-state with a vehicle identification number)
  • Wreckers

Vehicles that fail the safety inspection for service brakes, steering components, or frame rot will not be issued plates until repairs have been certified by a Connecticut-licensed dealer or repairer.

When is Vehicle Identification Number Verification Required?

An out-of-state vehicle does not require a safety inspection unless it is one of the types of vehicles listed above. However, vehicles that were previously registered in another state are required to have a vehicle identification number (VIN) verification performed.

Verifications of VIN numbers can be completed at emissions testing centers or at a DMV Inspection Lane for a reasonable fee. Keep in mind that you will need to present proof of ownership documents when you bring your vehicle to be VIN verified.

After the VIN is verified, you will receive a verification form that will need to be presented when you register your vehicle at the DMV.

What is an Emissions Test?

Emissions testing indicates the level of pollutants emitted from the exhaust of a motor vehicle. California was the first state to do emissions testing back in 1966. Since then, other states, including Connecticut, have started requiring regular emissions tests.

In the year 1990, the Federal Clean Air Act was amended to significantly reduce air pollution, after which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created a set of emissions standards designed to minimize the level of hazardous pollutants released by motor vehicles.

An emissions test can detect levels of:

  • Carbon monoxide
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Nitrogen oxide
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Emissions from evaporation

The ultimate purpose of the emissions test is to ensure that all vehicles are within EPA standards and to limit the negative impact on the environment.

What Are the Emissions Testing Vehicle Requirements in Connecticut?

Residents of Connecticut are required to get an emissions test, sometimes referred to as a smog check, for their vehicles every 2 years. According to the Connecticut Emissions Program, there are emissions tests conducted on close to 1.3 million vehicles in the state every year.

Vehicles can be inspected for a fee at one of the over 200 privately owned vehicle service facilities located throughout the state. If you are unsure of where to get your vehicle inspected in your area, you can enter your address on the Connecticut Emissions Program website and you will be able to see emissions inspection locations near your home.

All vehicles in Connecticut are subject to emissions testing every 2 years except for the following vehicle types:

  • Vehicles that are model 1996 or older
  • Vehicles younger than four model years old
  • Composite vehicles
  • Motorized bicycles
  • Agricultural equipment
  • Motorcycles
  • Vehicles with a Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Fully electric-powered vehicles (non-hybrid)
  • Diesel school buses (Type II)
  • Vehicles with Dealer, Transporter, or Repairer plates (only for the purpose of transportation during auction or wholesale)

What Types of Emissions Tests Are Performed in Connecticut?

An emissions test usually takes between 15 to 30 minutes, depending on which process is used. The type of emissions test performed on a vehicle depends on one or more of the following: make, model year, fuel type, and driveline configuration.

The following is an explanation of each emissions test type used in Connecticut.

On-Board Diagnostics (OBD)

The On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) is the fastest and most efficient emissions test. This type of inspection is the most common test for vehicles that are 1996 models and newer. Modern cars have an automotive diagnostic system known as OBD-II. This efficient system monitors various engine and emissions components, ensuring that everything is working properly.

After scanning your VIN number, the emissions technician will connect an analyzer to the vehicle’s diagnostic link connector (DLC). The OBD test will not only detect if the vehicle is emitting excess pollutants, but it will also alert drivers to vehicle conditions that waste fuel, shorten engine life, and could potentially result in expensive repairs.

A vehicle’s check engine light turns on to alert drivers to issues such as poor fuel economy, high emissions, and poor performance. It is important to note that if your check engine light is on during the emissions test, your vehicle will fail.

Pre-condition two-speed idle (PCTSI)

The pre-condition two-speed idle test is generally used for older vehicles. In this test, emissions are tracked while the car is in park or in neutral. The technician will rev the engine at high and low revolutions per minute (RPM) levels.

In addition to the PCTSI test, the catalytic converter will be visually inspected. The vehicle will fail the emissions test if one or more of the catalytic converters is missing.

Gas cap pressure leak

All vehicles that receive the PCTSI test will also be given a gas cap pressure leak. The purpose of the test is to ensure that the gas cap on a vehicle properly seals the gas tank, allowing the evaporative emission system to properly dispose of fuel vapors. If the vehicle has a defective or missing gas cap, it will fail the emissions test.

Modified snap acceleration test

The modified snap acceleration test is used on older diesel-powered vehicles. During the inspection, the technician will measure the density of exhaust emitted from the vehicle’s tailpipe using an opacity meter.

As with the PCTSI test, your vehicle will also receive a visual inspection of the catalytic converter and fail the emissions test if one or more is missing.

Tips to Pass the Connecticut Emissions Test

Even if you drive an older vehicle, there are some things you can do before an emissions test to increase your chances of passing.

Keep in mind the following tips as the date of your emissions test approaches:

  • Change your oil: An engine with fresh oil runs more efficiently and produces less harmful gas.
  • Warm your car up: It is recommended to drive your car for at least 20 minutes before arriving at the emissions test location. After 15 to 20 miles, the vehicle’s catalytic converter, oil, and coolant will reach optimal operating temperature.
  • Get a tune-up: Things such as worn spark plugs and dirty air filters can make a big difference in whether your vehicle passes the emissions test. Be sure to get a tune-up at least two weeks prior to the test.
  • Resolve an illuminated check engine light: A “check engine” light may be on because of a loose gas cap, fault oxygen sensor, or defective catalytic converter. It is important to get the issue resolved before the emissions test because a lit check engine light is an automatic fail.
  • Use a fuel additive: A fuel additive can remove carbon buildup inside the engine and reduce the carbon emissions produced by your vehicle.
  • Inflate your tires: Tires that are improperly inflated can affect a vehicle’s fuel efficiency and cause the engine to work harder, resulting in higher emissions.
  • Get a pretest: If you are concerned that your car will not pass the emissions inspection, it’s possible to take it in for a precheck or perform it yourself. If your vehicle fails the mock test, you will know what repairs you need to make before the real test.

Reasons Why a Vehicle May Fail the Connecticut Emissions Test


It is normal to feel slightly anxious taking a car in for an emissions test, especially if it is a recently purchased used vehicle that you are having tested for the first time. The good news is that if a vehicle fails the emissions test, it is usually a so-called easy fix.

The following are some of the most common reasons why a vehicle may not pass the initial emissions inspection:

  • Loose or defective gas cap
  • Worn spark plugs
  • Check engine light is on
  • Dirty air filter
  • Damaged catalytic converter
  • Rich air/fuel mixture
  • Evaporative emission control system defects

My Vehicle Failed the Connecticut Emissions Test, Now What?

If your vehicle fails the emissions test, don’t panic. You have 60 days to repair your car and take a free re-test.

While it is your decision where you choose to have your vehicle repaired after failing the emissions inspection, it is recommended to have the repairs done at a Certified Emissions Repair Facility (CERF). One benefit is these facilities employ Certified Emissions Repair Technicians who have been trained specifically to identify and fix emissions-related issues.

An additional benefit is that vehicles that have been repaired at a CERF may be eligible for one of the following waivers if your car fails the re-test:

  • Economic hardship waiver: To qualify for this waiver, you will need to submit documentation to the DMV showing that your annual income is below state and federal poverty guidelines.
  • Cost waiver: You can qualify for this waiver if you meet the minimum expenditure requirements on the related emissions repairs.
  • Functional diagnosis waiver: Approval for this waiver requires documentation from the manufacturer explaining why your vehicle cannot pass the emissions test and validation from a DMV inspector that further repairs are not required.

If you do not qualify for one of the above waivers, you are required to repair your vehicle to comply with emissions testing guidelines.

What If You Disagree With the Results of the Emissions Test?

All Connecticut motorists have specific rights, which can be found in the Emissions Testing Bill of Rights. This includes the right to question the results of your emissions test.

If you feel that the results of your emissions test were incorrect, you have up to 15 days to challenge the results.

Contact “The Fast Firm” Today

Whether you are looking for additional information on Connecticut’s vehicle inspection laws or you are looking for an experienced attorney to help you fight for compensation, you can rely on Gould Injury Law to act fast to get you the help you need and deserve.

Our law firm has been helping personal injury victims in Connecticut for over 20 years. Our legal team will act fast and aggressively to maximize the value of your case and resolve your claim quickly.

Your initial consultation is absolutely free and comes with no obligation. What’s more, our fast-working law firm takes personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that you pay nothing out of pocket. In other words, if you aren’t awarded a settlement, you do not owe us a dime.

Call us at 888-WIN-FAST or complete the online form for a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer today.