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When do the changes to N.C. emissions testing requirements take effect?

Ken Little

UPDATE: While a number of North Carolina counties are expected to no longer require emissions inspections in the future, the plan will not go into effect until the federal Environmental Protection Agency approves the new State Implementation Plan, said Margaret Howell, spokeswoman for the state Division of Motor Vehicles.

“The 26 counties that are proposed to be removed from conducting emissions inspections are still required to do so until the state receives this EPA approval,” Howell said.

While the date of EPA approval is not known, the N.C. Division of Air Quality is accepting public comments currently as required.

Once the comments on the new plan are submitted to the EPA, the agency has up to 18 months to review and approve the plan.

Forty-eight North Carolina counties do not require annual emissions testing. The 26 additional counties that would become exempt from annual emissions testing include Brunswick, Burke, Caldwell, Carteret, Catawba, Chatham, Cleveland, Craven, Edgecombe, Granville, Harnett, Haywood, Henderson, Lenoir, Moore, Nash, Orange, Pitt, Robeson, Rutherford, Stanly, Stokes, Surry, Wayne, Wilkes and Wilson.

For additional information, visit the N.C. Division of Air Quality’s Inspection & Maintenance Program website at https://deq.nc.gov/about/divisions/air-quality/motor-vehicles-air-quality/inspection-maintenance-program.

Emissions testing is required for cars and light-duty trucks in New Hanover County. All counties will still require a safety inspection.

— Ken Little


Fewer than two dozen North Carolina counties will be required to conduct vehicle emissions testing once a law change goes into effect.

The move will allow roughly 2 million North Carolinians to discontinue testing the emissions from their cars, saving them $16.40 per inspection. All drivers still have to pay for the statewide annual safety inspection of $13.60 per vehicle.

Prior to the law, 48 of North Carolina’s 100 counties required emissions testing. The new law, which knocks 26 counties off that list, was set to take effect Oct. 1, 2017, or 60 days after EPA approval, whichever comes later.

Largely urban centers as well as some of their surrounding suburban counties will still require emissions inspections.

Those include 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 Associated Press

User-contributed question by:
Jack Franks

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5 Responses to “ When do the changes to N.C. emissions testing requirements take effect?”

  1. On September 8, 2017 at 1:13 am bo wrote:

    does the new nc emissions change require epa approval if oct. 1 comes and goes first

  2. On September 28, 2017 at 8:57 am Tammy wrote:

    Well what’s happening with the emissions inspection? It’s almost Oct 1.

  3. On October 2, 2017 at 7:48 am Cathy wrote:

    Well it October 2. Can we get just the safety inspection or do we still wait?

  4. On October 24, 2017 at 3:18 pm Jason wrote:

    What are we waiting on? Next week is November 1st?

  5. On November 5, 2017 at 12:03 am Steven wrote:

    Nov 5 still no new information. Im hoping they hurry this process my work truck has a faulty sensor that creates no problem other than cel (check engine light). im just trying to wait out the passing of this bill to save the cash, but if its up to our govt that truck will be a classic before its on the road again anyway.

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