Emissions Test MachineTune Tech Downtown in Boise is certified by the Ada County Air Quality Board as an Emissions Test Station. Testing usually takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete and require no appointment.

Here’s What You’ll Find Covered in this Article:

  • emissions testing in Ada and Canyon Counties
  • vehicles exempt from emissions testing
  • what about hybrid and electric cars
  • check engine lights and testing
  • failing an emissions test
  • repair spending limits and waivers for cars failing the test
  • summary of this article on the Auto Care Podcast

Overview of Emissions Testing In Ada and Canyon Counties 

Ada County has required emissions testing since 1984 to comply with the Federal Clean Air Act. The Ada County Air Quality Board manages the program.

Canyon County’s testing was established in 2010. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) established the program and provides helpful information FAQs on their website.

Vehicles registered in Ada or Canyon County can have emissions tests done at stand-alone Emission Vans or at existing repair facilities designated as “test” stations. Since Ada and Canyon counties share vehicle test data between the programs, a test performed in either county will satisfy the testing requirements for either program. (Repair and retest stations will be addressed later in this article.)

Vehicles in Ada and Canyon counties that are 1981 and newer must be tested every 2 years. The fee can vary but usually runs around $20.

Testing for 1981 to 1995 gas vehicles is conducted at idle and at 2500 RPMs. 1996 and newer vehicles will only have the OBDII computer system read for a current fault code or readiness monitors that haven’t run. Diesel vehicles manufactured between 1981 and 1997 are tested with a “snap acceleration” method. All 1998 and

Emissions Test Machine
Emissions Test Machine

newer diesel vehicles are tested with the OBDII method.

What vehicles DON’T Need an Emission Test?

 Your vehicle does NOT require testing if it’s:

  • New and/or less than four (4) years old
  • Electric or hybrid
  • Over 14,000 lbs. Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)
  • Under 1,500 lbs. GVWR

What to Do with Your Hybrid or Electric Car?

Hybrid Car Name logo
Hybrid Cars

Hybrids and electric cars do not currently require an emission test. However, the Ada County motor vehicle database has not yet classified these vehicles in such a way to eliminate mailing of annual emission test postcards to these vehicle owners. This means you will need to take your postcard and the corresponding vehicle to

our Tune Tech Test Station or another certified “test” location to receive a FREE exemption.

What to Do if Your Check Engine Light is On?

A “Check Engine” light that comes on means your car’s computer has identified a problem. This warning light notifies you of possible performance problems with your vehicle. Depending on the problem, it may mean excessive emissions are being produced. If you are due for an emission test when this warning light comes on, go ahead and get the test done. A 1996 or newer vehicle with a check engine light on will almost always have an OBDII code set and will end up failing an emissions test.

The test document provided by the test station will give information that helps you, your mechanic, or the “Repair and Retest” mechanic fix the problem. In a 1996 or newer model vehicle, one or more codes from the OBDII system will be listed on the failed test document. In 1995 or older vehicles, the document will list the emissions gas values allowing a mechanic to make the appropriate repair to correct the problem.

Remember, since Tune Tech Downtown Boise is certified as a “testing station”, we are not allowed to provide emissions repair work for your vehicle. This is true for all repair shops with “testing station” status

If your vehicle fails to pass an emissions test, you have 3 options before retaking the emissions test. Repair work necessary can be done by yourself, your mechanic, or one of the designated “Repair and Retest Stations”.

What to Do if Your Car or Truck Fails the Test

If your vehicle fails an emissions test, you will be charged a reduced fee of $16.50. The problem will need to be fixed and your vehicle retested within 30 days. If a passing retest results, you will be charged the remaining $3.50 when you retest.

If your 1996 or newer vehicle fails to pass the test, and the OBDII system only identifies readiness monitors, you or your mechanic can follow the drive cycle instructions on the Air Quality Board website to prepare your car for a retest.

After following the instructions, you can retest your vehicle. You can also have your mechanic drive the car to run the “readiness test”. After that, a scanner can read the readiness monitors in your car’s computer to insure they have run. If all the car’s readiness monitors run, your car will most likely pass an emissions retest.

Vehicles 1981 to 1995 are tested at the tailpipe. If a vehicle in this age range fails an emissions test, you can choose to do the required repairs yourself or have any mechanic (except one at a certified test station) do the repairs.

What to Do if You Can’t Afford Needed Repairs?

When your vehicle fails an emission test and you have spent more than $300 on emissions related repairs to fix the vehicle, you may qualify for an emissions waiver for the current emissions period if your car fails the retest. Vehicles 1995 or older that fail tailpipe emissions must be inspected to insure that all emission control equipment is present and functioning. Providing the certified emissions technician has verified all catalytic converters, secondary air injection system components, gas cap and check engine light functionality are present and working, requirements will be met and you’ll be given a waiver. Remember, if emissions components have been removed from your car, the expense to reinstall them is not considered part of the $300 expense cap.

It’s important to understand that the $300 in repairs must be spent on whatever is causing the vehicle to fail emissions. That can be a bit tricky depending on the situation. Here is an example that may require you to contact the Quality Assurance Department at the Air Quality Board.

Example: A 1994 Chevrolet Suburban fails the tailpipe emissions because it has a burnt valve in the engine. If all emissions components are present and working there is no way to spend $300 or less to fix a burnt valve. A valve job would be necessary and could cost in excess of one thousand dollars. This vehicle should be taken to a Repair and Retest Station where a certified technician will verify everything he is required to check. If he cannot give a Waiver, the shop will instruct you to contact the Air Quality Board.

Remember, if you need an emission test today, no appointment is necessary at Tune Tech Downtown. Just drop in and your emissions test will be done promptly. The testing itself is usually complete in 3 to 5 minutes with the longest wait time seldom being more than 10 minutes.

Our hours of operation in Boise are 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday to Friday; 8:00 to 5:00 on Saturday.

Call if you have any questions (208) 336-5315 or contact us here.

The following video identifies our location in Downtown Boise. It gives a brief look at a test being completed. Our phone number is presented at the end of the video.