Do Teslas Require A Smog Check? Here’s What You Need To Know


Smog checks are essential when it comes to registering your vehicle with the DMV. This check is essential whenever you register a new vehicle but are electric cars exempt from this rule? A lot of rules and policies about vehicles have related directly to internal-combustion vehicles. This brought up lots of questions when electric vehicles started being introduced. To this day policies and rules regarding cars are still being changed to make sure they incorporate electric cars. With the continuous expansion of electric vehicles so rules do not, or do, relate to electric cars, just like the rule we will be discussing today.

Do Teslas Require A Smog Check? No, because Teslas don’t produce any kind of tailpipe emissions they do not need to have a smog check. Nearly all-electric cars are exempt from smog checks because of this. Depending on where you live you may have to also have a safety inspection on the electric vehicle in order to renew the registration or register it for the first time.

This may be scary to some people as getting a smog check on your vehicle is a very common thing to do and not having to do that may feel weird. Some people may also be relieved by this fact as it gives them more time and makes registering vehicles easier.

Electric cars are one of the only vehicles that do not require a smog check, saving you a few dollars. In some states, some other kinds of checks may be required for Teslas but they are exempt from a smog check no matter where you are. Regardless of how you feel about it, Tesla owners do not have to receive a smog check when other vehicles may need one. 

Why Teslas Don’t Require A Smog Check

Teslas are fully electric cars, meaning they do not use gasoline or diesel to power them. Because of this, there are no products that are the result of the combustion of fuel, which means no emissions. It wouldn’t make sense if you simply had to take a car that doesn’t even use the necessary materials to create smog into a smog check. If you walk into a DMV and show proof that it is a fully electric car then there is simply no need for a smog check and this has been happening for nearly as long as electric cars have been around.

It would be a little funny if your state still tried and forced electric vehicles such as Teslas to receive emissions tests simply because there would be nothing to test. Teslas do not even have any equipment in them that the computers for emissions tests can connect to. This literally makes it impossible for Teslas to undergo a smog check. Simply showing proof that the vehicle is fully electric should be more than enough for most DMVs. If there are excessive amounts of problems (because it may be possible that your DMV doesn’t deal with electric vehicles very often) try to stay calm and ask around for someone that may have experience or a manager that may be able to help you navigate the processes as there are sometimes some slight differences in the process when it comes to electric cars.

Some states do have mandatory safety inspections for vehicles from which Teslas are not exempt. Teslas may require a safety inspection, which usually includes a mechanic checking things like lights and sensors to make sure that the car is still safe to drive. In places where this is required, almost all cars are required to undergo this safety inspection, so it should not be a surprise unless you recently moved somewhere new. An emissions test is usually run during the safety inspection, but because there are no emissions to check, this part of the check is skipped for Teslas. The price for this check will usually cost around the same amount of money that a smog check would cost in your area.

What Vehicles Do Require A Smog Check?

Before electric cars, all vehicles required a smog check in order to be registered. Now only vehicles that are known to produce emissions have to have a smog check. This means vehicles that use fuel sources like gasoline or diesel generally need to have a smog check. Depending on how you obtain the vehicle, you may or may not need a smog check when you go to register your vehicle. If you bought it from a dealership then a smog check is not required, if you bought it from a private party then in most cases you will need a smog check.

It is important to note that there are exceptions to this depending on what state you live in. In California, if the vehicle is older than 1975, they do not need a smog check, and vehicles that are eight model years or younger do not require a biennial smog check. These rules vary from place to place so it is important to do research on what the requirements for your area are. Some states don’t even require any sort of smog check for vehicles driven and registered in the state. The rules for each individual state can either be found by a simple search on the internet or a call to your local DMV.

Why Hybrids Require A Smog Check

Hybrids are a mix of gas-powered and electric vehicles. This means that hybrids still produce emissions. Hybrids can either be plugins or just like normal cars but with a much larger battery that can power the vehicle. Both kinds of these hybrids still require smog checks because they still use gasoline and produce emissions. Some states do have rules that may change or alter whether or not a hybrid needs smog checks but for the most part, they do need smog checks.

If we are being completely honest it may seem silly that hybrid vehicles need to receive smog checks. Hybrid vehicles have proven that they generally produce a much lower amount of emission than that of a gasoline or diesel-powered vehicle. This sadly still does not exempt them from smog checks nearly anywhere.

It is possible that an excess amount of toxic emissions may be released if something like the catalytic converter doesn’t work in the vehicle. This is the main reason why these vehicles still have to go and receive smog checks. Unless the vehicle truly doesn’t produce any harmful byproducts when powering the vehicle, then it can’t be exempt from smog checks.

Electric cars do not have any byproducts when fuel is used to make cars move. Hybrids, however, still use gasoline combined with electric power to move the car. This means that although it is generally much “cleaner” than a normal gasoline vehicle they are still not exempt from smog tests in most states. Some states do have rules that allow new vehicles such as hybrids to not receive a smog test for a certain amount of time but after that time limit is up they will have to receive smog tests just like every other vehicle. Again it is important to check your local and state guidelines regarding hybrid vehicles if you have questions. 

Do Teslas Require A Safety Inspection Even If They Don’t Require A Smog Check?

Depending on where you live a kind of safety inspection may be required if you want to register any kind of vehicle. Teslas will require a safety inspection only if where you live requires a safety inspection. Usually, these inspections are coupled with an emissions test to make sure that the car passes emissions and is safe to drive. Teslas can skip the emissions part of the test and will only need to undergo the safety inspection part of the test. The price will generally cost around the same as receiving a normal emissions test for a car in your area but will vary depending on where you go and where you live.

There are about 15 states that require safety inspections on vehicles, this could mean either annually every other year, or sometimes even every ten years. One or two more states require safety inspections also upon purchase of a vehicle. The image above shows what is required according to state laws. These laws have changed in some states over the last few years so make sure to double-check your state laws.

The way that you have to receive a safety inspection on the vehicle, as well as how often you have to have one, varies greatly even between the few states that do require the safety inspection. Asking around and doing some research may allow you to receive the best care and the most convenient places to choose from, especially when you are trying to figure out where to take an electric vehicle like a Tesla.

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