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20-Year-Old Cars Free From Emissions Test

North Carolina’s vehicle inspections requirement beginning Dec. 1 will exempt 20-year-old vehicles from getting a yearly emissions test in the 22 counties that emissions testing is required, the state Department of Environmental Quality announced Thursday.

For example, a 1999-model year vehicle would be exempt from obtaining an emissions inspection starting Dec. 1. The following year, a 2000 model year vehicle would be exempt from obtaining an emissions inspection.

As required by law, a motor vehicle must pass an annual safety inspection before it can be registered or the registration renewed in the state. All North Carolina counties require the safety inspection.

Emissions inspections will still be required for vehicles under 20 years old starting Dec. 1 in the following counties that still require emissions inspections: Alamance, Buncombe, Cabarrus, Cumberland, Davidson, Durham, Forsyth, Franklin, Gaston, Guilford, Iredell, Johnston, Lee, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, New Hanover, Onslow, Randolph, Rockingham, Rowan, Union and Wake counties.

The 20-year rolling inspection is the a result of the passage of Senate Bill 131, or Regulatory Reform Act of 2016-2017. The bill was signed into law in 2017 and then approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. Based on a study of county-level emissions and current ambient air quality data, the Department of Environmental Quality concluded that changing the vehicle model year coverage did not interfere with continued attainment or maintenance of any applicable National Ambient Air Quality Standard in the state, according to DEQ.  The 20-year rolling inspection is outlined in N.C.G.S. 20-183.2(b)(3).

Learn more on the Division of Air Quality Inspection and Maintenance page and the Division of Motor Vehicles site.

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Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.