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What Every Car Owner Should Know About Colorado State Emissions Testing

Every state has its little quirks with their state emissions testing standards, and Colorado is no different. In order to pass your emissions testing the first time, it’s important that you know the specifics of the tests being administered to your vehicle so you can better take care of your vehicle for years to come. Keep reading for more information that every Colorado car owner should know about Colorado’s state emissions testing!

To begin, all car owners who live in Colorado are expected to bring their cars in for a regular vehicle inspection at the Department of Motor Vehicles (the DMV). Your emissions testing is done as a part of these inspections in certain counties to ensure cars on the road aren’t emitting too much smog into the air. Passing the smog check is mandatory for your vehicle in order to renew your registration, so take it seriously! 

There are a variety of emissions testing locations throughout Colorado, and each is an official Colorado DMV smog check provider. Most cars require a $24 fee for the tests to be administered, and others may be higher. Diesel vehicles are quoted their own price at whichever Diesel Emission Testing Center they choose.
The requirements of the emissions test will vary depending on your vehicle’s model year and fuel type. There are five types of smog checks administered in Colorado: 


  • Onboard diagnostics (OBD)
  • Two-speed idle test 
  • I/M 240 dynamometer (treadmill) test
  • RapidScreen Roadside test
  • Diesel emissions test

Here’s a breakdown of each!
Onboard Diagnostics (OBD)
The OBD emissions testing is done on gas-fueled or hybrid vehicles 8 to 11 years old, and analyzes a vehicle’s engine performance and emissions data as well as reviews any maintenance codes the vehicle may be showing. Standards for this test are the same for both hybrid vehicles and gas-powered vehicles. Any and all vehicles that display the ‘check engine’ light automatically fail.
Two-speed Idle Test
The two-speed idle test measures the concentration of pollutants in the exhaust gases of your engine while your car is basically not moving, or ‘idle.’ This is carried out on gas-powered cars manufactured before 1982.
I/M 240 Dynamometer (treadmill) Test
This test is passable even if your ‘check engine’ light is on, and is an enhanced inspection of your vehicle’s emissions. Using an inertia dynamometer to simulate vehicle loads at a variety of speeds during a 240-second drive cycle, your vehicle’s emissions will be analyzed during acceleration, deceleration, and cruise modes. Such treadmill tests are carried out on cars that are at least 12 years old, with a model year from 1982 and on.
RapidScreen Roadside Test
The RapidScreen Roadside Test is the DMV smog test for low-emissions vehicles. This test doesn’t require owners of low-emissions vehicles to take them in for a physical inspection. Essentially, the RapidScreen program measures emissions and records the license plate numbers as vehicles drive past roadside monitors for metro Denver and the northern Front Range areas. So, if you get a letter in the mail letting you know that your low-emission vehicle has passed the RapidScreen, you’re good to go!
Diesel Emissions Test
Diesel vehicles require their own form of testing by licensed independent smog certification providers. Depending on your location, you may not need to get your diesel vehicle smogged. 

That’s not to say that emissions testing is required of all vehicles in Colorado. Vehicle testing is mandatory within certain counties, including those at risk for high smog levels. These counties in Colorado require a passing emissions test to register your vehicle:

  • Boulder
  • Jefferson 
  • Broomfield
  • Denver
  • Douglas
  • Portions of Adam
  • Portions of Arapahoe
  • Portions of Larimer
  • Portions of Weld
  • Portions of El Paso

Additionally, emissions testing is not required in Colorado if your vehicle is: 

  • A motorcycle, moped, farm vehicle, or horseless carriage
  • 7 model years old or less
  • A collector’s vehicle, model year 1975 or older
  • A completely electric vehicle

If you fail your emissions test in Colorado, never fear. You’ll need to figure out why your car failed, and that information is found in the Vehicle Inspection Report. Those issues are then addressed by an auto shop, and fixed, which is where Car Pros Muffler Masters can help!
For your preventive auto maintenance, or to go over a failed emissions test, we invite you to schedule an appointment with Car Pros Muffler Masters today! We are conveniently located at 3015 N Stone Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80907. If you have any questions, call us at 719-636-1087. You’ll be glad you did!


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