3-Year and 70,000 Miles Exemption Information

What created the 3-year exemption? [Back to Top]
In 2011, the General Assembly directed NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) to evaluate the impact of 1) eliminating all vehicles from an emission inspection as well as 2) eliminating the three newest model years. As a result of the study and the recommendations that were sent to the General Assembly in 2012, House Bill (HB) 585 was eventually enacted as Session Law 2012-199.

What did the law exempt? [Back to Top]
The law exempts from emission testing, vehicles that are registered in or sold in North Carolina if they are within the three most recent model years and have less than 70,000 miles on the odometer.

What is the effective date for this law? [Back to Top]
April 1, 2015

If my vehicle is exempt from the emission test is it also exempted from the annual safety inspection? [Back to Top]
No. The law only exempts the emission portion of the annual inspection for vehicles in the counties where emissions inspections are required on 1996 and newer vehicles.

How do I determine the model year of my vehicle? [Back to Top]
The model year of your vehicle is listed on your vehicle's title, registration card, as well on the Emission Control Label that is located in the vehicle engine compartment. If you are unsure of the model year of your vehicle, you can call the NC DMV Help Desk at 1-877-421-0020.

What method should I use to determine if my vehicle is exempted from emission testing? [Back to Top]
Determine if your vehicle is within the three most recent model years by subtracting two (2) years from the current calendar year. For example, with a vehicle receiving an inspection during calendar year 2015, model years 2015, 2014, and 2013 will be exempted from emission testing if the odometer has less than 70,000 miles.

If my vehicle is within the 3 most recent model years but has 70,000 miles on the odometer when it is inspected, what type of inspection should I receive? [Back to Top]
The vehicle would receive an emissions/safety inspection because a vehicle must have less than 70,000 miles on the odometer to be exempt from the emissions portion of the state inspection.

If my vehicle is exempt from the emission test can I have my annual safety inspection performed in a safety-only county? [Back to Top]
Yes. Emission exempted vehicles can have the safety-only inspection performed in any of the 100 counties of North Carolina.

If I return to my inspection facility for a re-inspection and now my vehicle exceeds the 70,000 mile limitation, do I need to have an emission test performed? [Back to Top]
No. If your vehicle had less than 70,000 miles on the odometer at its original inspection, and reaches or exceeds 70,000 miles within your 60-day re-inspection window, you do not need an emission inspection.

If my vehicle is not registered in North Carolina and it has less than 70,000 miles on the odometer, would I be able to obtain an emission inspection to meet my state's requirements of needing an emission inspection? [Back to Top]
Yes. The three-year emission exemption only applies to vehicles registered or being sold in North Carolina.

If my North Carolina vehicle meets the 3-year emission exemption, can I still request an emission inspection? [Back to Top]
Yes. Any 1996 and newer vehicle meeting North Carolina's Safety and Emission Inspection Program requirements can have the vehicle inspected along with paying all associated fees for the inspection.

If my vehicle meets the 3-year emission exemption but my check engine light is on, will I fail the safety inspection? [Back to Top]
No. The check engine light (which is part of the emission/safety inspection) is not part of the safety-only inspection and therefore it will not affect the inspection results. Since the vehicle may still be under warranty, the cause of the check engine light should be looked at by an authorized repair facility or dealership.

Are dealerships allowed to take part in the 3-year emission exemption? [Back to Top]
The exemption is available to all NC registered vehicles or used vehicles that will be sold in an emission county. Potential buyers of vehicles that were exempt from an emission inspection need to be aware these vehicles were not emission tested. Buyers should consider obtaining guidance from their mechanic to ensure the emission system is performing correctly.