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My vehicle failed the test. What should I do?

If your vehicle failed its emissions test, that means it is exceeding the allowable emissions standards for the year in which it was manufactured. It should be diagnosed by a professional automotive repair technician to determine the underlying reason(s) for the failure, and to identify the repairs necessary to correct the problem(s). You must have it repaired and retested within 60 calendar days from the date of the initial test. You may always have your vehicle repaired at a facility of your choice, or you may make the repairs yourself. However, the State of Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) highly recommends that you have the repairs performed at a Certified Emissions Repair Facility, as these facilities employ Certified Emissions Repair Technicians, who are trained and certified in emissions-related failures and repairs.

If your vehicle fails a second test, you may qualify for a cost waiver, provided the repairs are performed at a Certified Emissions Repair Facility and certain cost criteria are met.
Click here for more information about waivers.

Depending on the age and mileage of your vehicle, certain emissions components are eligible for a federally mandated manufacturer’s warranty in the event of a failed emissions test that was the result of a manufacturer defect. This coverage may extend up to eight years or 80,000 miles.
Click here to access warranty information .

Why did my vehicle fail?

Why a vehicle specifically failed depends on the emissions test required for each vehicle, based on the model year, fuel type, and gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). Depending on the model year, weight, and driveline configuration of your vehicle, there are several reason why your vehicle may have failed.

Catalytic Converter (Visual Inspection) – All vehicles are subject to the visual verification of the catalytic converter; if one or more catalytic converters are missing from your vehicle, the emissions test will fail. The catalytic converter is a post-combustion control device that converts toxic exhaust emissions from your vehicle's engine into less-toxic pollutants. All vehicles are subject to the visual verification of the catalytic converter, which must be present and properly installed. If one or more catalytic converters are missing from your vehicle, the emissions test will fail. Please be advised that the Clean Air Act prohibits tampering with emission control systems originally installed and certified by vehicle manufacturers.

On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) Test – Failing the OBD emissions test can occur for one or more of the following reasons:

  • The OBD system is commanding the Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL) to illuminate while the vehicle is running.
  • The OBD system readiness monitors are ‘Not Ready,’ indicating specific OBD systems have NOT completed their self-evaluating protocols. This can be caused by disconnecting the vehicle’s battery or intentionally resetting the OBD system.
  • The Diagnostic Link Connector (DLC) in a vehicle is missing, damaged, or inaccessible.
  • The emissions analyzer cannot communicate with a vehicle (OBD communication failure).
  • The MIL light is not working.
  • The inspector performing the emission test must perform a visual verification of the MIL light. The light MUST illuminate with the key-on engine-off; if not, this indicates tampering with the light or a defective bulb or circuit.

Pre-Condition Two-Speed Idle (PC TSI) Test – Non-diesel vehicles from model year 2007 and older with the GVWR of 8,501 pounds to 10,000 pounds receive the PC TSI test, which measures tailpipe emissions. Vehicles fail this test for emitting excessive levels of one or both of the major air pollutants: carbon monoxide and/or hydrocarbons. During the PC TSI test, vehicles are subject to the Gas Cap Pressure Leak Test. If a gas cap fails the leak test, it means excessive amounts of fuel vapors are escaping into the atmosphere.

Modified Snap Acceleration (MSA) Opacity Test – This test applies to non-diesel vehicles from model year 1996 or older as well as diesel-powered vehicles from model year 2006 or older with the GVWR of 8,501 pounds to 10,000 pounds. The MSA test utilizes an opacity meter measuring the smoke density emitted from the vehicle’s tailpipe. If a vehicle fails this test, it is emitting excessive levels of particulate matter (smoke).

If you need further clarification on why your vehicle failed, please call the motorist hotline at (877) 469-2884.

What should I have received from the Testing Center?

If your vehicle failed, the Test Center should provide you with the following:

Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) – As a part of the inspection process, the Test Center is NOT required to diagnosis your vehicle’s failed test result. However, the Test Center is required to provide and go over the Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) with you. They should provide general information on the component or emissions system that failed. In addition, the Test Center is required to explain the retest policy and emissions due date listed on the VIR for your vehicle’s return.

Certified Emissions Repair Facilities (CERF) List – If your vehicle failed the emissions test, the Test Center is required to provide you with the Certified Emissions Repair Facilities (CERF) List generated by the emissions analyzer. You are under no obligation to have your vehicle repaired at the Test Center. However, the Test Center may inform you that their facility is an approved emissions repair location documented on the CERF list.

Emissions Repair Form – The Test Center is also required to provide you with the Emission Repair Form. When you return for your vehicle’s retest, the Emissions Repair Form must be completed. If the Emissions Repair Form is not completed and presented, the Test Center will turn you away, and your vehicle will not be tested. For program evaluation, the Emissions Repair Form is required to be completed by the repair facility or person who completed the repairs. This includes a CERF location, or by you, acknowledging that a non-certified repair facility made the repairs, or you repaired the vehicle, or no repairs were made.

Program Brochure – The Test Center should also provide you with the program brochure available in the facility’s area or counter. The brochure will provide the general program, failure, and waiver information also found on this website.

What is the retesting policy?

You have 60 consecutive calendar days from the date of the initial test to have your vehicle’s emissions problems repaired and pass the one-time free retest. If the 60th day is a Sunday or a program holiday, the emissions analyzer will adjust the date to the next business day. Your original Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) with the failed test result will indicate the expiration date and time for the expiration for your vehicle’s free retest eligibility. Please look at the date in the field called “New Emissions Test Due”.

What if I retest after 60 days?

If you have your vehicle retested after the initial 60-day retest period, you will be required to pay another $20.00 emissions test fee. Your vehicle will also be assessed a $20.00 late fee, by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Important note: If your vehicle’s registration is due for renewal, it will only be renewed if your vehicle passes its emissions retest.

What if I fail the retest?

There are three (3) different types of waivers that you may explore if your vehicle fails the retest: Cost, Economic Hardship, and Functional Diagnosis. Click here for information on waiver eligibility .

Please note: If your vehicle fails the free retest, you will be subject to the $20 test fee for each sequential test and after the 60-day free retest period expires, your vehicle will be out of compliance.

How many free retests am I eligible to receive?

Your vehicle is eligible for one free retest, per test cycle, at any test center. If your vehicle fails the free retest, each subsequent test will be subject to the $20.00 emissions test fee. Remember, after the initial failure, you will have sixty (60) calendar days to have the vehicle repaired and retested.

Important note: If you purchased a used vehicle from a private owner, and the vehicle previously failed its emissions test, prior to the ownership change, your vehicle will not be eligible for a free retest.

What if I question the accuracy of the test?

You are entitled to challenge the results of your emissions test within 15 business days. Please contact the motorist hotline at (877) 469-2884 for additional details.


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