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Maryland Emissions Testing: How It Works and Why It Matters

June 19, 2023

Columbia Auto Care & Car Wash - Auto Care | Vehicle Emmsion testing in Columbia, MD

The Maryland Vehicle Administration (MVA) operates a vehicle emissions inspection program (VEIP) to help ensure clean air and water throughout the state. Vehicles must pass a smog check every two years to pass the Maryland State Inspection. While an emissions inspection is a requirement, finding a facility in Columbia, MD, that performs the emissions inspection is often easier said than done. Fortunately, the experts at Columbia Auto Care & Car Wash can help. We utilize the latest and most advanced emissions inspection equipment to test all vehicles. If your vehicle fails the mandatory test, we can complete the necessary emissions repair. Continue reading for more on the Maryland State Inspection emissions inspection. 

Why Is the Maryland State Inspection Important?

The year 2022 represented the 50th anniversary of the Clean Air Act (CAA). The CAA was enacted to combat hazardous air pollutants from stationary and mobile sources, including vehicles. Dangerous pollutants produced by vehicles include,

  • Nitrogen oxides, 
  • Carbon dioxide,
  • Benzene, 
  • Soot, 
  • Greenhouse gases, and 
  • Other particulate matter. 

Maryland emissions laws are designed to counteract and prevent these toxins. 

What Can Happen If I Skip Emissions Inspections? 

Maryland is extremely serious about providing clean air for residents. As such, Maryland has harsh penalties for individuals and businesses who fail to comply. 

  1. Violators of Maryland emissions laws can face steep penalties of up to $45,268 per noncompliant engine or vehicle. 
  2. You could pay up to $4,527 per event if try to circumvent the system by tampering with a device.

How Often Do I Need an Emissions Inspection in Columbia MD? 

You will receive a notice via email about 11 weeks before your vehicle’s due for an emissions inspection. If you do not have an email registered, the Maryland Vehicle Administration will contact you via USPS. In either case, most registered vehicles must have an emissions inspection every two years. If you own a new vehicle that is registered for the first time, you will typically be contacted by the Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program after about 36 months. However, Maryland car owners should expect to have an emissions inspection at least every two years. 

What to Do Before a Maryland State Inspection?

Getting a Maryland State Inspection at Columbia Auto Care & Car Wash is easy. A few simple tips and best practices to consider include:

  • Ensure your coolant and oil levels are up to par
  • Check that your exhaust pipe is clean. 
  • Ensure your gas cap is properly fitted. 
  • If your Check Engine Light is illuminated, you should have it fixed before you have the emissions inspection. 

Which Counties in Maryland Require Emissions Inspection?

The following counties in Maryland require emissions for vehicles registered there:

  • Anne Arundel
  • Baltimore
  • Calvert
  • Carroll
  • Cecil
  • Charles
  • Frederick
  • Harford
  • Howard
  • Montgomery
  • Prince George’s
  • Queen Anne’s
  • Washington

And if you regularly commute to one of these counties for school or work, you may be subject to an emissions inspection. 

What Vehicles Must Have an Emissions Inspection in Columbia MD?

The two classes of vehicles required to pass the Maryland State Inspection:

  • Any light-duty or passenger vehicle that is model 1996 or newer
  • Any heavy-duty vehicle (up to 14,000 pounds) that is a 2008 model or newer

Are Any Vehicles Exempted from the Maryland Emissions Inspection in Columbia, MD?

If you drive a historic vehicle, you are exempt from having an emissions inspection. A historic vehicle is any vehicle that is 20 years old and has not been altered from its original design. In addition to historic vehicles, the following cars, trucks, and SUVs are exempt: 

  • Motorcycles
  • Solely diesel-powered vehicles
  • Solely electric-powered vehicles
  • Registered farm vehicles 

Contact Columbia Auto Care & Car Wash in Columbia, MD for an Emissions Inspection

When you need an emissions inspection, Columbia Auto Care & Car Wash makes the process as easy and hassle-free as possible. We are the leading Certified Maryland State Inspection Station in the Columbia MD area. And if your vehicle fails any part of the test, we are a Certified Emissions Repair Center, which means we can quickly provide a cost-effective solution. 

Contact Columbia Auto Care & Car Wash today! Call us at (410) 740-9890, complete our online contact form, or visit us at 10611 Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia, MD.


This article is intended only as a general guidance document and relying on its material is at your sole risk. By using this general guidance document, you agree to defend, indemnify and hold harmless Columbia Auto Care & Car Wash and its affiliates from and against any and all claims, damages, costs and expenses, including attorneys’ fees, arising from or related to your use of this guidance document. To the extent fully permissible under applicable law, Columbia Auto Care & Car Wash makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, as to the information, content, or materials included in this document. This reservation of rights is intended to be only as broad and inclusive as is permitted by the laws of your State of residence.

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