Washington Vehicle Safety Inspection Requirements

Before you take your vehicle out on the roads of Washington, there are certain steps you’ll need to take before you can do so. Some of these requirements include carrying minimum auto insurance coverage on your vehicle to protect yourself in the event of a collision, and possibly having a safety inspection done on your vehicle to ensure it’s safety. Below, we discuss these safety inspection requirements and what the exemptions to the rule are.

Emissions Testing

Washington adheres to the Clean Car Law. This means that all vehicles including vans, cars, SUVs and pickup trucks that were made in 2009 or later will need to be bought and sold, registered and operated based on California’s emissions standards.

Even if a car has less than 7,500 miles on it, or is owned by a new Washington resident it still needs to meet California emissions standards. You can determine whether your car meets these standards through your car’s engine compartment where the Vehicle Emissions Control information is located.

If your label says that your car is certified under CARB (the California Emissions standard), is certified for sale in all 50 states (50-state certified) or able to be sold in the Northeast, then your vehicle meets Washington state emissions compliance requirements.  


There are certain requirements that your car will need to meet in order to pass emissions testing. Certain components of your vehicle must be in working condition including oxygen sensors, and your exhaust system. Your check engine light must not be on either, or you can expect to immediately fail your emissions testing.

These tests must be completed before you register your vehicle, when you are renewing your registration, and at least every two years. If you live in Clark, Spokane, King, Snohomish, or Pierce county, you are obligated to follow Washington vehicle emissions testing requirements.


As with every rule there are a few exceptions to the safety inspection requirements in Washington. If you drive an eco-friendly vehicle such as a Toyota Prius or a vehicle that is powered by compressed natural gas, propane, electricity or liquid petroleum, then you are exempt from emissions testing. Diesel vehicles that were made in 2007 or later, or weight under 6,001 pounds are also exempt.

Additional exemptions include registered collectible vehicles, those that are over 25 years old, farm vehicles, and motorcycles, to name a few. If you are unsure about the status of your vehicle, you can call the Washington State Department of Licensing for more information.

Take Advantage of Your Free Claim Assessment Today

If you’ve been injured in an auto wreck and you’re unsure about whether your vehicle or the other involved car passed Washington state emissions requirements, get in touch with a qualified Seattle auto crash lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can investigate the cause of the crash so that you can hold them accountable for their actions and secure full compensation for your damages.

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