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How to Pass Emission Test in Illinois

How to Pass Emission Test in Illinois

Living in Illinois means adhering to the state’s vehicle emissions testing program. To ensure the air quality is preserved, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) requires vehicles to undergo regular emission tests. These tests aim to identify and reduce the release of harmful pollutants into the atmosphere. If you are a vehicle owner in Illinois, it is vital to understand the requirements for passing an emission test. This article will provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to pass the emission test in Illinois and address common FAQs associated with the process.

Understanding the Emission Test in Illinois:

The emission test in Illinois is known as the Air Team Vehicle Emissions Testing Program. It applies to gasoline-powered vehicles registered in certain counties, including Cook, DuPage, Lake, Kane, McHenry, and Will. The purpose of this test is to measure the level of pollutants emitted by your vehicle, such as hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and particulate matter (PM).

Emission tests are mandatory for vehicles that are four years old or newer. Once a vehicle reaches its fifth year, it must undergo an emission test annually. However, vehicles with a model year of 1996 or older are exempt from this requirement.

Preparing for the Emission Test:

Before taking your vehicle for an emission test, it is essential to ensure that it is properly maintained and in good running condition. Here are some steps you can follow to increase your chances of passing the test:

1. Perform Regular Maintenance: Regularly servicing your vehicle, including oil changes, filter replacements, and spark plug inspections, can significantly improve its emission levels.

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2. Check the Check Engine Light: If your vehicle’s check engine light is illuminated, it will automatically fail the emission test. Have a mechanic diagnose and fix any issues before taking the test.

3. Drive Your Vehicle: Driving your vehicle for 20-30 minutes before the test helps warm up the engine and catalytic converter, which can improve emission levels.

4. Ensure Proper Tire Inflation: Underinflated tires can affect your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and emission levels. Check and inflate your tires to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure.

5. Use Quality Fuel: Filling up your vehicle with high-quality fuel can help reduce emissions. Avoid using low-quality or contaminated fuel.

6. Replace Faulty Components: If your vehicle has malfunctioning emission-related components, such as oxygen sensors or catalytic converters, consider replacing them before the test.

Taking the Emission Test:

Once you have prepared your vehicle, it’s time to take the emission test. Here’s what you can expect during the testing process:

1. Locate a Testing Facility: Find an authorized Air Team testing facility near you. You can visit the Illinois Air Team website or call their hotline for locations and operating hours.

2. Bring Necessary Documents: Ensure you have your vehicle’s registration card, proof of insurance, and any emission-related repair receipts, if applicable.

3. Pay the Testing Fee: The emission test fee in Illinois is $20. You can pay with cash, credit card, or a check made payable to the Illinois EPA.

4. Vehicle Inspection: A certified emissions inspector will inspect your vehicle’s emission control system and collect necessary data using an onboard diagnostic (OBD) system or tailpipe emissions analyzer.

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5. Receive the Test Results: You will receive a vehicle inspection report indicating whether your vehicle passed or failed the emission test.

Common FAQs about Emission Testing in Illinois:

Q: What if my vehicle fails the emission test?
A: If your vehicle fails the emission test, you are required to have it repaired and retested within 30 days. Failure to comply may result in penalties, such as vehicle registration suspension.

Q: Are there any exemptions from emission testing?
A: Vehicles with a model year of 1995 or older are exempt from emission testing, as well as certain types of vehicles, such as motorcycles, electric vehicles, and diesel-powered vehicles weighing over 8,500 pounds.

Q: Can I repair my vehicle myself?
A: You can perform certain repairs yourself, but some repairs may require professional expertise. It is best to consult a certified mechanic for emission-related repairs.

Q: Are emission tests only conducted in certain months?
A: No, emission tests are conducted year-round. It is recommended to check the operating hours of the testing facilities before visiting.

Q: Can I appeal if I believe the test results are inaccurate?
A: Yes, you can request a retest or appeal the results within 30 days of the initial test. Contact the Illinois EPA for more information on the appeal process.


Passing the emission test in Illinois is crucial for vehicle owners to ensure compliance with the state’s environmental regulations. By following the steps mentioned above, maintaining your vehicle, and being prepared for the test, you can increase your chances of passing the emission test successfully. Remember to regularly service your vehicle, address any check engine light issues, and drive your vehicle before the test. If your vehicle fails the test, have it repaired promptly to avoid penalties. Stay informed about the emission testing requirements and regulations to ensure a smooth and eco-friendly driving experience.

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