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Division of Motor Vehicles

Vehicle Services FAQ's

Vehicle Inspection Program FAQs

Q. How is the test performed?

A: Typically, when a motorist enters the test facility, the lane technician asks for the vehicle registration card and the odometer reading and enters essential information into a computer. The computer automatically selects the proper standards for the vehicle’s model year. Most gasoline-fueled vehicles newer than the 1980 model year receive a low/high speed emissions test (two-speed idle). Gasoline-fueled vehicles within the 1968-1980 model year range receive an idle (curb) test. After completion of the inspection procedure, motorists receive a computer-generated Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) that contains the results of the emissions and fuel system tests.

Q. What happens to vehicles that fail?

A: If a vehicle fails either portion of the emissions test, the owner must have the emissions-related repairs performed before being retested. There is no charge to the motorist for retesting failed vehicles. Satisfactory completion of the test requirements is necessary before vehicle registration renewal. The lane technician provides all motorists with an informational brochure at the initial failed test to explain the repair and retest process.

Q. How can I apply for a waiver?

A: Under certain conditions vehicle owners may apply to the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for an exhaust emissions waiver. The Division does not grant waivers for failed fuel system tests or safety examinations. Waivers are issued to vehicles that continue to fail the exhaust emissions test even after appropriate repairs have been made. To be eligible, all items on the following check list must apply:

  • The vehicle failed the exhaust emissions test two or more times
  • Engine parameters are set to manufacturer’s specifications
  • You exceeded the repair cost limit. The limit is $75 for vehicles in the 1968-1980 model year range and for 1981 and newer vehicles registered in either New Castle County or Kent County. The waiver limit for 1981 and newer vehicles registered in Sussex County is currently $200. Please refer to the Vehicle Inspection Program Brochure for a waiver option that meets your vehicles manufactured year and county it is registered in. For a list of certified technicians, visit this page
  • The vehicle did not fail for visible smoke or missing emissions control equipment
  • When presented to a DMV technician for review, all repair receipts and Vehicle Inspection Reports (VIR) must accompany the waiver application

Q. Why vehicle emissions testing?

A: The federal Clean Air Act spells out air quality standards that all areas of the United States must meet. Motor vehicles are one of the major causes of air pollutants. Vehicle emissions include carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrocarbons (HC). Vehicle testing assures that vehicle-generated emissions are within specified standards.

Q. Why is emissions testing required in Delaware?

A: Delaware is one of the areas in 35 states with air pollution levels higher than federal health standards. In Delaware, motor vehicles create approximately one-third of the volatile organic compounds (mostly hydrocarbons). The purpose of Delaware’s emissions testing program is to identify:

  • Vehicles that exceed exhaust and evaporative emissions standards
  • Prevent registration until vehicles meet emissions standards

Q. Who sets exhaust emissions standards?

A: The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) sets the emissions standards for vehicles. The Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) administers the vehicle inspection program.

Q. What vehicles require emissions testing?

A: Emissions tests are required on automobiles and on trucks with a manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating (MGVWR) of 8500 pounds or less. Exceptions include vehicles manufactured before 1968, diesel-fueled vehicles manufactured before 1997, and motorcycles. DMV conducts approximately 400,000 tests each year.

Q. Who does the testing and what does it cost?

A: The Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) conducts testing. The required tests are without charge to Delaware residents.

Q. When are vehicles tested?

A: Typically, vehicles are tested biennially based upon the model year "and vehicles being titled/registered for the first time in Delaware". The testing is required prior to registration renewal. Vehicles in the first 7 model years are excluded from testing. The Division electronically sends registration renewal notices approximately 90 days before registrations expire. Set up electronic renewal notification.

Q. Where are vehicles tested?

A: There are 4 full service DMV facilities throughout Delaware with 21 test lanes.

Q. Who to contact to schedule an off-site inspection?

Wilmington: 302-434-3242
Delaware City: 302-326-5041
Dover: 302-744-2560
Georgetown: 302-853-1018