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State of Connecticut Emissions Testing on Used Automobiles

CraftytotheCore purchased a used vehicle in 2011 and had to deal with emissions testing.

In the big scheme of things, emissions testing on used automobiles may seem like a very minimal requirement. All residents should gladly do it, right?

Many states do not require it of automobile owners. The State of Connecticut does. There are a lot of rules and requirements to it as well. It's not as simple as some may think.

I hope this article provides a better understanding of what's involved in emissions. Having a basic knowledge of emissions is crucial to buying a used car in Connecticut.

Know about emissions before buying a used car

Know about emissions before buying a used car

My Experience Buying a Used Vehicle

In November 2011, we purchased a used automobile from an auto mechanic that also sells used cars. He is a licensed Connecticut dealer.

We were told that the vehicle had to be registered and that his dealership would get the emissions testing done because it was due.

Within a few days, the vehicle was ours. We drove home happily in our new-to-us ride.

The check engine light was on the entire way home. The next day we called to complain because we had bought the vehicle with a used vehicle warranty. It was not sold as-is. The dealership was really thorough about how they fixed it for us for free. Then two more times within the warranty period, the check engine light came on, and both times, the dealership fixed the problems.

Finally, when the warranty expired, the check engine light came on again, so we took it back to the dealership. They charged us over $600 for repairs. They claimed the entire engine had to be taken apart and put back together, and we got a great deal for the time they put in it. All the while claiming they did this for us as a favor and would have charged us a great deal more if we hadn't been a customer of their dealership.

Then, while traveling on a Connecticut highway in the vehicle with my children and dog, the van started smoking from under the front hood. I pulled over on the side of the highway and called 911. There was smoke coming out from the bottom of the van by now too. My family ran over to a grassy embankment and sat down to wait for help.

Pretty soon, a state police officer saw us stranded and came to help. But to my dismay, he told me to get back in the vehicle and start driving. My children were very reluctant. I explained to the officer that the van looked like it was going to catch on fire. The officer told me that he didn't see anything wrong and to just start driving.

We drove about one-quarter of a mile, and the van started pouring out smoke. I couldn't see to drive. All I did see were the flashing lights behind me of the state police officer's car and the officer summoning me to pull over again.

I stopped immediately, and he told me to go to the nearest exit, where we waited for a towing company in a large parking lot.

At the repair service facility, we were told that wherever we had work done on the vehicle prior to that, they forgot to put a bolt back, and it caused parts and fluids to come out of the vehicle. That was what had caused the problem. But the new bill was almost $800 for more work done to the vehicle.

For the past two years, the vehicle has been running smoothly. Then just two months ago, the check engine light came back on. We took it to two different repair facilities to get a quote. The first facility said they could not determine why the light was on. The second facility told us that it was an oxygen sensor.

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We received a letter from the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles claiming the registration is due at the end of November, but we must go through emissions first.

Our vehicle failed emissions. We were told to take it to a certified specialist to get repairs and then bring it back through emissions.

Within a couple of days, however, we received a notice from the Connecticut Department of Emissions explaining that we owe a late fee for noncompliance of emissions. I called the number on the form to protest, explaining we never received a notice other than the registration renewal, which was not overdue.

We were told that the emissions was overdue on the vehicle. In fact, it's so overdue that the vehicle hasn't been through emissions since 2009.

This means that the dealer where we bought the vehicle never put it through emissions. How then could the State of Connecticut register the vehicle at all if emissions were not compliant?

Upon asking this question of the Emission Department, I was told that they have a law in the Connecticut State Statutes which addresses this, but there is no consequence or penalty for not complying. In other words, it's not ok for a dealer to register a car that has not passed emissions. But there are no repercussions for registering a car that has not passed emissions. In fact, the penalty falls to the owner. That would be me.

Connecticut General Statutes

C.G.S. Section 14-164c (n), No motor vehicle dealer licensed under section 14-52 shall sell any motor vehicle unless such motor vehicle (1) is in compliance with subsections (c) and (d) of this section and the regulations adopted by the commissioner, and (2) has passed an emissions inspection conducted in accordance with said subsections and regulations...

What Is Emissions Testing?

Ozone pollution is invisible. Connecticut ozone pollution exceeds federal health standards, especially in summer.

The Clean Air Act, a federal law, gives the Environmental Protection Agency responsibility for regulating emission control requirements on vehicles. The Act is overseen by each individual state.

Emission control systems do not always perform as well over the full useful life of the vehicle due to aging.

Emissions testing uses a diagnostic system test is the quickest and most efficient of all emissions tests. The test alerts the owner to any repairs that can reduce air pollution. The test is performed by an inspector.

An emissions testing cable is connected to the vehicle’s Diagnostic Link Connector. The test abstracts specific protocols from the vehicle, allowing the testing equipment to verify whether or not emissions is in compliance.

What Is an Emissions Test Center?

A vehicle is tested at privately owned automotive service centers throughout Connecticut.

Each location offers a sign outside of their building with a Test Center number. They are also required to provide a designated emissions testing parking and waiting area where you can view the test and information.

At any of the test locations, usually, you can just show up without an appointment. It's best to call to find out business hours and to make an appointment if you can't wait.

Most people will need to go to a full-service test center where emissions can be performed on any vehicle regardless of fuel type or model year. (An OBD Plus Test Center performs emissions except on 1996 or older diesel-powered vehicles or vehicles newer than 1997 with a gross weight of 8501 pounds.

Also, if your vehicle is oversized, consider calling a test facility first to make sure they are able to accommodate you.

Midas, Firestone, and Pep Boys are examples of chain retailers that provide emissions testing. For a complete list, view the Connecticut emissions website.

What if the Vehicle Fails Emissions?

A vehicle might fail emissions testing if it's exceeding emissions standards for the year it was manufactured.

Vehicles need to be repaired and retested within 60 days from the date of the initial test.

If the registration date falls within these 60 days, emissions must pass before the automobile may be registered. This is a situation for somewhere there aren't sixty days available because the registration date is almost come to pass.

Fees Associated With Connecticut Emissions

Emissions testing is required in Connecticut every two years for the most part. There are exceptions contrary to the rule. Most people with an automobile will be subjected to this emissions testing. The fee is $20.

If the deadline has passed to go through emissions testing, there is an additional $20 late fee.

When someone fails emissions testing, they do not have to pay for a second test once the vehicle has been repaired and re-tested.

Do Automobile Emissions Have Anything to Do With Cancer?

I thought it would be interesting to find out what the cancer statistics are for Connecticut. One of the arguments for pro-emissions is that it decreases cancer rates.

According to the American Cancer Society, in 2022, Connecticut had 22,810 new cancer cases. Oregon, a much larger state, had about the same with 25,130, and Oklahoma had 23,700.

Based on the statistical map I downloaded and researched, there doesn't seem to be a correlation between a decrease in cancer and emissions testing on vehicles.

According to the EPA, they believe the emissions programs have helped reduce the amount of cancer and other health problems related to pollution.

In fact, the EPA believes that reducing ozone pollution reduces the incidents of asthma and bronchitis. According to the CDC, the number of people diagnosed with asthma is growing every year, though. Even the CDC admits they do not know why asthma rates are rising!

Map showing asthma statistics in the United States

Map showing asthma statistics in the United States

This map shows that there is more research needed to conclude precisely whether or not emissions testing actually reduces asthma incidents.

Connecticut is one of the states with the highest incidence of asthma sufferers.

What Happens if the Cost Is Too Much for Repairs to Make My Vehicle Emissions Compliant?

The minimum emissions repair expense to be eligible for a cost waiver is $876.04. That would include costs for actual repairs made to the vehicle by a certified emissions repair technician. Estimates are not eligible.

Also, an automobile owner may apply for a diagnostic waiver if diagnostics fail to provide evidence to suggest emissions repairs are needed.

Keep all receipts as proof of expenses.

What Documents Will I Receive After Going Through the Emissions Process?

After bringing an automobile to an emissions test center and passing emissions, the owner of the vehicle will receive a Vehicle Inspection Report.

If the vehicle fails emissions, the owner will receive an Emissions Repair Form, a brochure, and a list of certified repair centers.

How to File a Complaint Against a Car Dealer or Repair Facility

  • First of all, you cannot speak to a person over the phone. All complaints have to be filed in writing.
  • You need Consumer Complaint Form K-35. It's found online.
  • Print out two copies, complete them both and sign them. Also make a copy for your own records.
  • You must include copies of all paperwork related to your complaint such as warranty, invoice, repair bill, etc. Do not send the originals, copies only.
  • Include a telephone number where you can be reached between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Include your email if you have one.

Send one copy to the DMV Consumer Complaint Center:

Department of Motor Vehicles
Consumer Complaint Center
60 State
Wethersfield, CT 06161

The other copy gets sent to the dealer or repair facility that the complaint is about.

If a customer is awarded a court judgment, DMV may be able to assist in obtaining restitution by holding a hearing to invoke the licensee's surety bond.

Complaints investigates by CT DMVComplaints not investigated by CT DMV

Used car warranty

Improper repairs

Deposits and billing

Misdiagnosis by a mechanic

Repair orders/estimates/authorizations

Vehicle vandalism occuring at the repair shop

Sales/purchase orders

Damage caused by improper towing




False statements

Non-consensual towing and storage charges

Facts About Vehicles on Connecticut Roads

There are nearly two million registered vehicles in Connecticut. Nevertheless, there are tens of thousands of visitors from other states (that do not require emissions testing) to Connecticut for one reason or another, whether it be to go on a nature hike, visit an aquarium, or plan a trip to a casino.


While I understand the mission of EPA to reduce levels of pollution, it makes little sense why some states have the emissions rules and some don't!

After all, many cars from many different neighboring states that travel through Connecticut daily do not have any emissions testing at all.

That's quite unfair considering Connecticut brings a large number of visitors and tourists into this area by automobile on Interstate I-95 because we have Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Casinos.

So to make Connecticut residents put up, pay for, and deal with emissions is essentially penalizing the residents for polluting our own state. When other travelers are not required to ensure their cars are not bringing pollutants into our state. And, also, the number of tourists we get here, are not necessarily held to the same emissions standards either because it goes by the state of registration.

That brings me to the wondering exactly how many cars in Connecticut are noncompliant with emissions? And out of those cars, are the owners residents or visitors?

We will never know. The only automobile owners penalized are those that register their cars in Connecticut. Also, as I've shown, statistics do not really support the need for emissions testing based on cancer rates. Even with emissions rules and regulations here, we have just as many cancer patients or more than states that do not have emissions. As far as asthma issues, those seem to be growing annually without a specific cause.

What are your thoughts?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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