Here in Wisconsin there are 7 counties that are required to have their vehicles ran thru emissions including  Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Washington and Waukesha. This test is a way the state is able to monitor that the vehicle is running up to their standards and not putting pollutants into the air. The Wisconsin Vehicle Inspection Program also identifies vehicles that have tampered emissions control equipment. The owners of those vehicles are required to have tampered items replaced, repaired, or returned to properly working.

When Does My Vehicle Need Testing?

A vehicle will need to be tested every 2 years by a certified testing site. Vehicles manufactured in an odd year will get tested in years that are even and vice versa. For example, a vehicle manufactured in 1999 would be tested in 2018, 2020, 2022, etc. On the other hand, a vehicle manufactured in 2002 would be tested in 2019, 2021, 2023, etc. The test needs to be performed before the motorist is able to renew the license plate, beginning in the third year following the vehicle's model year.  The vehicle must pass an emissions test before the registration renewal is effective. Failure to do so prevents the renewal of the license plate, which then makes the vehicle's registration suspended and illegal to operate until the test is done once the registration expires.

Vehicles that have a transfer of ownership will also need an emissions test performed if the vehicle is more than five model years old within 45 days following the change. A test is not required if the vehicle passed a test within 180 days of the transfer in ownership.  In addition, vehicles previously titled and registered out of state and more than five model years old a test is required within 45 days.

Each time registration is due, or an emissions test is needed, the WisDOT mails a letter to the owner stating that a test will need to be done. Therefore, you will never be out of the loop as long as you keep up with your mail and the DMV has your current address.

What Is An Emissions Test?

When the certified site performs the test, the vehicle is plugged into a computer using the OBD port which is usually located underneath the dash on the driver's side of the vehicle. The test verifies things such as the vehicle's VIN number, license plates on the car, the type of vehicle (passenger car, van, SUV, & truck), gross vehicle weight rating (GVRW) of heavier vehicle, and what the electronic monitors of the vehicle are set at. The main concern that the test is verifying is that the check engine light of the vehicle is not on. The test itself is very easy and takes less than 5 minutes to perform.