For a select group of lucky individuals, vague statutes and complicated regulatory codes are fun to read.
Those dedicated professionals don’t need an additional reason to spend hours unraveling the complicated web of the Code of Federal Regulations. For the rest of the world, it all boils down to “why do I care?” and “will this ever affect me?”
Those two worlds collided for me recently, when I received in the mail my Arizona car registration renewal form with the words “Emissions Test Required” printed on it.
I’ve had my car, a model year 2006, for just over 5 years now and had never had to have the test before, so I was surprised to see that it was now required. Turns out, you get a sort of “free pass” exemption for “most 2007 and newer model year vehicles.”
Presumably, that year gets shifted one year newer each year, leaving those of us with about 5 year old cars as rookie emissions test-goers.
With the help of the informative pamphlet I received in the mail with my registration and www.myAZcar.com, I read up on what I needed to know to get my required certification for registration.
The pamphlet offers 15 locations in the Phoenix metropolitan area, conveniently open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 7 pm and Saturdays from 8 am to 5 pm. The website also allows you to view the approximate wait time at each station, which are operated by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ).
I arrived at my chosen station at about 4:30 pm on a Tuesday and only had to wait about 5 minutes. This gave me a chance to review my handy pamphlet for tips including turning off my air conditioner and keeping the engine running while in park or neutral.
It also gave me a minute or two to check out my surroundings, including large signs informing me that emission tests and requirements are a direct result of increasingly strict federal regulations.
When it was my turn, the station attendant directed me to pull up into the testing space and asked me to turn off the car and pop the gas tank. He hooked my gas cap to a piece of machinery and asked me to step out of the car.
While I sat in a chair nearby, he removed the gas cap contraption and put a different testing apparatus somewhere under my steering wheel. Two or three switches and flips later, he told me I could get back in the car and asked how I wanted to pay for the test, which was $27.75.
No more than 10 minutes after we started, he handed over my report and informed me that my vehicle had passed.
Results of my test were electronically transferred to the Department of Transportation, so I can now easily go online to finish the registration process.
If this sounds like too much of a hassle for you, there are several options that will allow you to avoid the emissions test process altogether.
First, you can only own vehicles that are less than 5 years old, assuming the requirements don’t change to include more vehicles.
Second, if you’ve chosen to reduce your carbon footprint by driving an alternative fuel vehicle, you may be exempted based on certain requirements.