The basics...


What exactly gets inspected?

Lane Inspection videoThe inspection is actually a series of evaluations specific to your vehicle’s characteristics. In addition to the emissions evaluation, your vehicle will be evaluated as follows: 

  1. Pretest Safety Check
    As your vehicle enters the facility, a brief check around the vehicle is performed to ensure that there are no visible reasons that would make it unsafe to evaluate.  Inspectors look for obvious fluid leaks, worn tires, etc.  If your vehicle is rejected for further evaluation for safety or other reasons, you will be given a form stating what condition(s) must be corrected before an inspection can be performed.

  2. Visual Inspection of Emissions Equipment
    All vehicles are checked for items like illuminated dashboard warning lights, the presence of a gas cap and tire pressure.  In addition, most vehicles are checked for a variety of other required components to ensure that they are installed, intact and in working order.  These include catalytic converters, air injection systems and oxygen sensors.

    Vehicles not originally equipped with these components are not required to have them.  However, vehicles originally equipped with any of these and other components must not be altered.  The components must be present on the vehicle at the time of inspection.  Gray market vehicles and customer-built vehicles must either have appropriate components or present required paperwork from a state-operated Emissions Technical Center that exempts them.

  3. Gas Cap Pressure Check
    Gas caps on 1975-and-newer vehicles are tested for leakage.  Your vehicle’s gas cap will be removed and attached to a pressurization device.  Gas caps that do not have an adequate seal allow harmful emissions to escape into the atmosphere.  Vehicles with faulty gas caps will not pass the overall inspection.  Faulty gas caps must be replaced and vehicles subsequently returned to an Air Care Colorado facility for a full re-inspection.  State of Colorado regulation require a full re-inspection because vehicles may perform differently once a properly-sealed gas cap is installed.

  4. "Check Engine" Light
    The “Check Engine” light is an indicator of a malfunction or serves as a maintenance reminder.  Depending upon the make and model of your vehicle, it may say "Check Engine," "Service Engine," or "Emissions," or may simply illuminate an image of an engine.  An illuminated "Check Engine" light at the time of inspection will either result in a failed overall inspection or an advisory so that it may be addressed.
  5. Opacity (Smoke) Inspection
    Your vehicle will be checked for the presence of visible smoke.  If your vehicle is emitting too much visible smoke, it will fail the overall inspection.
    (According to state regulation, repairs for visible smoke are not considered as part of the $75/$715 repair limit)

  6. On-Board Diagnostics (OBD)
    On-Board Diagnostics, known as OBD or OBD II, refers to computer-based systems built into all 1996-and-newer light-duty vehicles.  OBD systems monitor the performance of a vehicle's major components, including those responsible for controlling emissions.  The systems continuously check vehicles to ensure they are operating as designed, and to detect emissions-related problems before they might otherwise be noticed.

  7. I/M 240 Dynamometer "Treadmill”
    Vehicles are driven on a treadmill-like device that evaluates emissions under a series of simulated driving conditions.

  8. Two-speed Idle
    1981-and-older vehicles are subject to this non-driving evalauation that monitors emissions at idle speeds.

Pretest Safety Check

As the vehicle enters the building, a brief check around the vehicle is made to make sure there are no visible problems that would make it unsafe to test. The inspector will look for obvious fluid leaks, worn tires, etc. If the vehicle is rejected from testing for safety or other reasons, you will be given a form stating what condition(s) must be corrected before the vehicle can be tested.

Visual Inspection of Emissions Equipment

All vehicles are given dashboard warning light and gas cap presence and pressure checks. In addition, vehicle model years 1975 through 1995 are given the following equipment checks, to ensure all required equipmwnt is installed, intact, and in apparent working order:

* catalytic converter
* air injection system
* O2 sensor system
* "check engine" light

Vehicles not originally equipped with these items are not required to have them. Vehicles that were originally equipped with any of them must have them in place in order to pass the emissions test. Gray market vehicles and customer built vehicles must have components appropriate to their model year, or must present evaluation paperwork from a state Emissions Technical Center.

Grace Period

How long do I have to get an inspection once I receive my registration renewal postcard?

There is a 30-day grace period for your annual or biennial emissions test upon expiration.  Simply, this means you have a month (30 days) after your tags expire to get an inspection.  However, keep in mind that more than 30 days past the expiration date could result in a $50 ticket. Requests for extensions beyond the 30-day grace period must be made through your local Motor Vehicle office.