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Do I Have to Get an Emissions Inspection in NC?

When the time comes to renew your registration, you might begin to worry about your annual inspections. One particular point of confusion is the emissions inspection because it is not required for all vehicles. The local mechanics at Chapel Hill Tire are here with some information and an FAQ that will help you determine whether or not you need an emissions inspection. 

Your North Carolina County

Emissions Inspection Question 1: Is your vehicle registered in one of the 22 NC counties that require an emissions inspection? 

If so, you might need this routine inspection each year. Emissions inspections are only currently required in the following counties: 

  • Alamance
  • Buncombe
  • Cabarrus
  • Cumberland
  • Davidson
  • Durham
  • Forsyth
  • Franklin
  • Gaston
  • Guilford
  • Iredell
  • Johnston
  • Lee
  • Lincoln
  • Mecklenburg
  • New Hanover
  • Onslow
  • Randolph
  • Rockingham
  • Rowan
  • Wake
  • Union

You are immediately exempt from the emissions inspection if your vehicle is registered in one of the other 70+ NC counties. 

Newer Vehicles

Emissions Inspection Question 2: Is your vehicle more than 3 years old?

New vehicles undergo inspections before hitting the sales lot. These vehicles are also at a low risk for emissions issues. As such, the three newest model years of a vehicle are exempt from emissions inspections. 

Older Vehicles

Emissions Inspection Question 3: Is your vehicle less than 20 years old?

Emissions standards are increasingly challenging to meet for older vehicles. Resultingly, classic cars (20 years and older) are exempt from emissions inspections in North Carolina. 

Your Car’s Mileage

Emissions Inspection Question 4: Does your vehicle have 70,000 miles or more on the odometer? 

Low mileage is typically associated with low emissions. As such, vehicles with less than 70 thousand miles on the odometer are exempt from this inspection. 

Fuel Type

Emissions Inspection Question 5: Does your engine run on gasoline? 

Diesel-powered and electric vehicles are exempt from emissions inspections. However, all gasoline-powered vehicles—including hybrids—can qualify for the emissions inspection. 

Vehicle Weight

Emissions Inspection Question 6: Do you have a light-duty vehicle?

Only light-duty vehicles (less than 8,501 lbs. Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)) require emissions inspections, while medium-duty and heavy-duty vehicles are automatically exempt. You can find your GVWR in the tire information panel. You can read our guide (with pictures) here

The Verdict: Do I Need an Emissions Inspection?

If you answered yes to all of the questions above, you will likely need to get an emissions inspection to renew your registration. The only other emissions inspection exemptions apply to:

  • Farm vehicles
  • Motorcycles
  • Recreational vehicles (RVs)
  • Motor homes

If you are still unsure whether your vehicle requires an NC emissions inspection, speak with a local mechanic for insight. 

What Does It Mean To Be Exempt From The Emissions Inspection? 

Exempt vehicles can renew their registration without taking or passing the NC emissions inspection. However, these vehicles are not entirely off the hook for their emissions. All cars on the road require a safety inspection before renewing their registration. Elements of the vehicle emissions system are checked for tampering during the safety inspection. You can read more details in our guide to everything checked during an NC safety inspection

Chapel Hill Tire: Emissions Inspection Near Me

Chapel Hill Tire has you covered if you need an emissions inspection in the Triangle. Our professionals deliver leading safety and emissions inspections—ensuring you can renew your registration. If anything causes you to fail your inspection, our mechanics can deliver the services you need to pass. Chapel Hill Tire boasts 9 impressive locations across Apex, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Durham. We invite you to make an appointment online, browse our promotions, or give us a call to get started today!

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