What vehicles need to be inspected:
All vehicles that are registered in Massachusetts must receive a safety inspection each year. Vehicles listed below must also receive an on-board diagnostic (OBD) emissions test each year:
When do vehicles need to be inspected?
Your vehicle must undergo both an emissions test and a safety inspection every year before its current inspection sticker expires (at the end of the month printed on the sticker). To avoid end-of-the-month lines, have your vehicle tested during the first half of the month when it is due for an inspection. If you purchase a vehicle (new or used), it must be inspected within seven calendar days of its registration to continue operating on Massachusetts roadways.
What to bring to your vehicle's inspection:
Bring your vehicle registration and the inspection fee with you.
Effective October 1, 2008, commercial vehicles, trailers and converter dollies are subject to the Massachusetts Commercial Motor Vehicle Inspection.
This inspection is equivalent to the annual Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) inspection (known as a "DOT inspection"). When your vehicle/trailer receives a state safety inspection beginning October 1, 2008, you will not be required to obtain a separate annual "DOT" inspection.
Massachusetts registered single, full, or semi-trailers used in commerce, that have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) over 3,000 pounds or commercial vehicle/trailer combinations with a gross combined weight rating (GCVWR) of over 10,000 pounds are subject to this requirement, as are all heavy duty motor vehicles (over 10,000 pounds GVWR) and converter dollies.
Trailers and converter dollies in use after January 1, 2009 must be in compliance with this new inspection. For more information, please visit www.mass.gov/rmv/inspect and follow the link to "commercial inspections."
For more information about Commercial Vehicle Inspections, contact us.]]>
Waivers are not granted for safety-related failures.
If your private passenger or OBD-equipped mobile home vehicle fails its emissions re-test, it may be eligible for a waiver of emissions standards and a passing sticker that will be valid until your vehicle's next annual inspection. Only repairs performed by a Registered Emissions Repair Technician qualify for a waiver. Repairs made by anyone else are not eligible. If a Registered Emissions Repair Technician has tried to fix your vehicle but it still doesn't pass its emissions test, you can apply for an emissions waiver. There are no waivers for safety defects.
Your Vehicle May Be Eligible for a Waiver if:
You have spent at least the following on emissions repair costs (including labor and materials):
$790 for a vehicle five model years old or newer
$690 for a vehicle six to ten model years old
$590 for a vehicle more than ten model years old
Be sure to keep your repair receipts so you can show that you have met the applicable cost threshold for your vehicle.
Your vehicle's emissions control system must be intact, with no evidence of tampering
The vehicle must have passed its safety inspection within the previous 60 days.
The vehicle's OBD system (internal computer) must connect successfully with the inspection station's computer, must be "ready" for its re-test (i.e., it must have completed its self-checks of the emissions control system), and cannot be showing diagnostic trouble codes for engine misfire, catalytic converter efficiency failure, or energy storage (for a hybrid vehicle).
You provide the following required documentation:
Work orders and receipts from a Registered Emissions Repair Shop detailing the repairs that were made;
A completed Emission Repair Form signed by a Registered Emissions Repair Technician (or the technician must have entered repair information into the state's online database); and
Vehicle Inspection Reports from both your vehicle's initial inspection and its re-test(s).
If you lose your Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR), call the toll-free Motorist Hotline at 1-866-941-6277 to request that a duplicate be mailed to you. Please note that only repairs performed by a Registered Emissions Repair Technician qualify for an Emissions Waiver.
How to Apply for an Emissions Waiver
To obtain a waiver, your vehicle needs to be evaluated at a Motorist Assistance Center (MAC).
Call the toll-free Motorist Hotline at 866-941-6277 to schedule an appointment at a MAC near you. The agent you speak with will conduct a pre-appointment screening to be sure you have met the basic requirements.
Bring the required documents to your appointment.
If your vehicle qualifies for a waiver, the MAC will provide you with a waiver authorization so the inspection station that failed your vehicle can then issue you a passing sticker.
If your vehicle does not qualify for a waiver, MAC staff will advise you which requirements were not met.
Emissions. A vehicle that fails its emissions test must be repaired and pass a re-test within 60 days of its initial inspection. Give the Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) you received from the inspector to your repair technician, who can use the information it provides to diagnose your vehicle's emissions control problem(s). Need a copy of your Vehicle Inspection Report? Get a reprint here. If the inspector also gave you an Emissions Repair Form, be sure to have the repairer complete it and then return the form to the inspector when you take your vehicle back for its re-test. Check with your repairer to see if he or she has filled this form out on-line for you. If so, you will not need to return the form to the inspector.
There are two important reasons for completing repairs immediately:
It is technically illegal to operate your vehicle before fixing safety defects identified during an inspection.
Emissions control problems can significantly reduce gas mileage, and may cause long-term damage to your vehicle that will make repairs more expensive.
Keep your repair receipts inside your vehicle as proof that repairs have been made until your vehicle passes its re-test. This is especially important if your vehicle failed its initial safety inspection.
Sometimes, repairs don't fix the problem(s) that caused your vehicle to fail its emissions test or estimated repair costs are extremely high because a major component needs to be rebuilt or replaced. In these cases, you may still be eligible for a passing sticker. If your private passenger vehicle or OBD-equipped motor home:
Failed its emissions test and was fixed by a Registered Emissions Repair Technician but fails its retest, you may be eligible for a Waiver of Emissions Standards [link] and a passing sticker that will be valid until your vehicle's next annual inspection.
Needs a major and costly repair to pass its emissions test (e.g., transmission replacement or engine overhaul), you may be eligible for an Economic Hardship Repair Extension and a one-time, one-year sticker to continue operating the vehicle while you save for repairs or look for a replacement.
To get either a waiver or an extension, you will need to bring your vehicle and its inspection and repair records to a Motorist Assistance Center (MAC) for evaluation. The MAC will provide you with an authorization so the inspection station that failed your vehicle can then issue you a passing sticker, or will explain how your vehicle does not meet waiver or extension requirements. Your Vehicle Inspection Report will contain instructions on how to schedule an appointment at a MAC.
There are no waivers or extensions for any safety defects or for emissions problems with commercial vehicles.
Massachusetts uses two types of emissions tests: On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) for most vehicles and Snap Acceleration Opacity for heavy duty vehicles that are not equipped with OBD systems.
On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) tests are given to:
The Massachusetts Vehicle Check on-board diagnostic (OBD) emissions test is designed to ensure that your vehicle keeps running as cleanly as it was designed to run, which in turn protects the air we breathe.
The OBD test typically takes about 3 minutes. The inspector connects your vehicle's on-board computer to an analyzer in the station, and then downloads engine and emissions control data. The analyzer checks several OBD system functions:
Communication. Does your vehicle's OBD system communicate with the analyzer? If your vehicle's OBD system cannot communicate with the station's analyzer, the OBD system must be repaired before the emissions test can be completed.
Readiness. Is your vehicle's OBD system "ready" to be tested? As your vehicle drives, the OBD system checks the performance of various emissions-related components and systems. If the OBD system has not performed enough of these self-checks, your vehicle is "not ready" for an emissions test.
OBD Vehicles Exempt from Readiness Checks. Some 1996 and newer vehicles exhibit unique testing characteristics that prevent them from receiving a complete OBD emissions test. These particular vehicles will skip over the readiness checks and go directly to the MIL (malfunctioning indicator light) check.
Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs). Why would the OBD system turn on the Check Engine light? These indicators are diagnostic trouble codes that indicate which systems or components are not performing as designed. Reviewing these codes is the first step in diagnosing an emissions-related problem. These codes, along with other information in the OBD system, help guide emissions repair technicians to faulty parts and take the "guess-work" out of the process.
Check Engine Light. Is the Check Engine light (sometimes labeled as "Service Engine Soon") turned on? When this light is turned on, it indicates that one or more components of your vehicle's emission control system is not working as it was designed to work, and repairs are needed. If the light does not turn on when the OBD system tries to turn it on, this problem must be corrected.
The results are printed on the Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR), which the inspector will give you when the inspection is finished.
If your vehicle passes both its OBD emissions test and its safety inspection, it is issued a new sticker. If OBD detects a problem with your vehicle (generally indicated in advance by an illuminated "Check Engine" or "Service Soon" light), your vehicle will fail its inspection and will need to be repaired.
The most common causes of emissions test failures include:
Sometimes, a vehicle will fail or be turned away from inspection because its OBD system is "not ready." This simply means that the OBD system did not have enough valid data to evaluate the vehicle's emissions control system. This may be because the vehicle's battery was disconnected recently, perhaps while repairs were being made to the alternator, starter, electrical system, engine or transmission. Usually, a week of combined highway and city driving will reset the OBD system so that it will be ready for testing.
The VIR provides information that a repair technician can use to diagnose your vehicle's problem, fix it before it causes more air pollution, and spare you from more expensive repairs down the road.
Emissions Testing of Heavy Duty Diesel Vehicles
"Snap acceleration opacity" tests are used for diesel trucks, buses and other heavy-duty vehicles that weigh more than 10,000 pounds (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) but are not equipped with OBD systems.
In this test, the inspector uses an opacity meter or "smoke meter" to measure the smoke from the vehicle's exhaust pipe. The darker the smoke, the more the vehicle is polluting and the higher its opacity reading will be.
The inspector first secures the vehicle safely (so it cannot move) and tests to ensure that its engine governor is functioning properly. Then the inspector presses on the throttle to bring the engine up to its maximum governed revolutions per minute (RPM) several times - first to remove loose soot from the exhaust pipe, then to measure the opacity of the vehicle's emissions.
Readings from the final three acceleration "snaps" are averaged. The final average is compared to the emission standard for the model year and type of vehicle. Newer vehicles have more sophisticated emission controls, and must meet stricter standards.
Safety. A vehicle that fails its safety inspection must be repaired immediately. When you drive a car, truck, SUV or bus with safety defects, you are putting yourself and others at risk. You may also be issued a citation by police, which could lead to insurance surcharges.
Safety inspections typically take about 12 minutes. In a safety test, the inspector looks for or tests 14 key areas: