Car Inspection Laws in Colorado

Posted On November 14 2022 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Drivers may need a car inspection if they operate the vehicle in Colorado. Some rules are in place to protect the state from smog emissions. Sometimes they are difficult to keep straight. But we at Purvis and Thompson, are here to clear up any possible confusion.

Does Colorado Require Emissions Tests?

Yes and no. Some vehicles require testing, but not all. If your car is more than seven model years old, it will require a test. In 2022, if the vehicle that you are driving is a model year from 2015 or earlier, it requires a mandatory emissions test.

Here are the criteria that determine whether a car is subject to an emissions test. 

  • Vehicles that are 7 model years or older than the current year require testing.
  • The driver must complete an emissions test if a vehicle weighs more than 8,500 pounds and is considered a heavy-weight vehicle.
  • Certain counties require testing. These are Denver, Douglas, Jefferson, Boulder, and Broomfield. Parts of Adams, Larimer, Arapahoe, and Weld counties have specific rules about testing for emissions.
  •  Light-duty, gasoline-powered vehicles that weigh less than 8,500 pounds are among the cars that will be required for an emissions test.
  • Some registration renewal cards will specify the need for a test.
  • You could be required to test your vehicle if it is regularly driven to a specified area for school or work. 
  • When a vehicle is purchased, its emissions must be tested. Any time a car changes hands, it will require a new test.
  • If your car, truck, van, or SUV were manufactured from 1982 to seven years before the current year, it would need to be tested once every two years.
  • Annual inspections are necessary if the vehicle was manufactured earlier than 1982. 

How do Emissions Tests Work?

Depending on the model of your vehicle and what type of fuel your automobile requires will dictate what kind of inspection you will receive. These are the five emission tests you might need if you are a Colorado driver. 

  • Your vehicle will be subject to an onboard diagnostics test if it is a hybrid or gasoline-fueled automobile between 8 and 11 years old.
  • If your car is a hybrid electric car or some other vehicle with low emissions, you can do a RapidScreen Roadside Test
  • If your vehicle is gasoline-powered and older than a 1982 model, you must pass a two-speed idle test.
  • The treadmill test, or I/M 240 dynamometer test, is required for vehicles manufactured from 1983 to 12 years ago. 
  • Diesel engines are often in commercial vehicles. These vehicles require an independent provider to do the emissions tests.

Where, When, and How Much

If you need a Colorado emissions test, their website Air Care Colorado will show you all available locations and wait times. Inspection sites are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am until 5:30 pm and on Saturdays from 8:00 am until 1:00 pm. On Sundays and state holidays, inspection stations are closed.

If your car is a 1982 model or older, you can expect to pay $25 for your emissions test. If the vehicle is a 1981 model or older, inspections will cost $15. You may pay in cash, by check, credit, or debit card.