Most states in America require that all cars and trucks pass some form of (bi) annual smog check or vehicle emission inspection to legally operate within their jurisdiction. Some states, like North Carolina, only require smog checks in certain counties, typically the more densely populated ones. Also, there are states such as Hawaii and West Virginia that don’t require smog checks, only vehicle safety inspections. We hope this article gives you great smog check advice.
While states like Florida, Mississippi, and Arkansas, for the most part, don’t mandate vehicle safety or emissions inspections, except under very specific circumstances. Also, this blog entry focuses on smog check advice for motorists in the Winston Salem, North Carolina region, but for more information regarding vehicle emissions protocols in your area, the auto experts at Carolina Auto Service recommend contacting your local DMV, or visiting their web site.
Do I need a smog check in Winston Salem, NC?
All vehicles registered in Winston Salem, NC require an annual vehicle safety inspection and emissions test. North Carolina offers smog check exemptions for cars, trucks and SUVs that meet specific criteria.
Smog Check Exemption:
- Vehicles 20 years or older
- Some light-duty vehicles less than three years old or with less than 70,000-miles
- Diesel-powered vehicles
- Farm vehicles
- Antique vehicles – Requiring special authorization for cars or trucks older than 30 years old
Here is the full list of the 22 North Carolina counties that require annual vehicle safety inspections and emissions tests. If you happen to be reading this in another state, check with your local DMV for more information regarding smog check advice, rules and regulations in your county.
North Carolina Counties that Require Smog Checks
- New Hanover
Two Types of Smog Checks
A dynamometer is the traditional system of machinery used to measure a vehicle’s emission levels. A dynamometer consists of roller components that sit under your vehicle’s wheels. The roller apparatuses are connected to the system’s main electrical computer unit as well as a tailpipe emissions reading device. When revving the engine, the dynamometer measures the level of toxic emissions released from the vehicle’s exhaust. Dynamometers can be used to inspect any automobile make or model.
Electronic Diagnostic Scanner
All cars, trucks and SUVs produced after 1996 can be smog checked via an electronic automotive diagnostics scanner. This digital, handheld device connects directly to your automobile’s internal computer through its OBD-II port. The scanner digitally downloads and analyzes all emissions-related codes and information directly from the vehicle’s computer.
Smog Check Advice: Pre-Inspection
Regularly scheduled service and routine maintenance is the key to ensuring your car or truck will pass an emissions inspection. Conversely, if your automobile is not running so great, or experiencing mechanical trouble, your odds of failing a smog check increase. Furthermore, listed below are some useful, pre-test smog check advice that will increase your chance of passing any vehicle emissions test.
Check Engine Light
Your vehicle’s check engine light is a major red flag indicator that your car or truck is experiencing engine trouble and is an automatic failure on an emissions inspection. Also, before proceeding with a smog check, you must resolve any check engine light-related repairs or service beforehand.
Oil Change and Filter
Routine oil and filter changes not only lubricate, cool and protect an automobile’s engine components, but also significantly reduce the amount of harmful, toxins it emits. Furthermore, a smog check inspection is a great time to change your car or trucks oil and filter, if you haven’t done so recently.
Warm it Up
Warming up the engine, in particular, the catalytic converter, should be a part of any smog check advice checklist. All vehicles manufactured after 1974 include a catalytic converter, the engine component that filters harmful exhaust emissions. Also, most catalytic converters require about 20-minutes of driving to reach their optimal filtration levels. You should thoroughly warm up your engine before your scheduled inspection and even remain in idle while you wait (if possible).
If the car or truck you are bringing in for an emissions inspection hasn’t been driven for an extended period of time, the auto experts at Carolina Auto Service advise taking the vehicle out on the highway periodically two weeks before a smog check.
In terms of smog check advice and tires, it is extremely important to arrive to your emissions inspection with properly inflated tires. Furthermore, when undergoing a smog check using a dynamometer, underinflated tires can register a false reading, indicating an inaccurately high level of concentrated emissions. Also, the same goes for wet tires, excessive moisture can also register increased levels of smog. Additionally, if you have any concerns your vehicle may not pass a smog check, avoid coming in for an inspection on any wet or rainy days.
Smog Check Advice: What Happens if My Vehicle Fails a Smog Check?
If your car or check does not pass its emissions inspection, you will receive a detailed diagnostics report as to why your vehicle failed. Furthermore, after making any necessary repairs or corrections, you can then bring your vehicle back to be re-inspected. Also, if your vehicle passes the North Carolina vehicle safety inspection but fails the smog check, your automobile may be eligible for a repair waiver if it meets the following criteria.
- Passes the vehicle safety inspection but fails the on-board diagnostic smog check.
- Proof of repair, with a minimum amount of $200, pertaining to items on the failed smog check report.
- The vehicle in question was re-inspected and again passed the safety element, but again failed the smog check.
Contact Carolina Auto Service Today
If you are looking for a one-stop-shop for all of your smog check needs, then look no further than Carolina Auto Service. We are an official North Carolina state-certified, vehicle safety, and emissions test and repair center, endorsed by the DMV. Also, our staff of ASE-certified automotive technicians is on-site and ready to assist with pre-inspection diagnostics, along with any post-inspection repairs or service. Located on South Stratford Road near Interstate 40, Carolina Auto Service has proudly provided the Winston Salem NC community with high quality, reliable smog check inspection services since 2004.