If you currently live in Georgia or South Carolina but are relocating between the two states, it’s important to be aware of the differences in the requirements for your car’s emissions testing.
If you live in Georgia but are moving to South Carolina, you’ll be happy to know that South Carolina does not require testing. However, if you live in South Carolina or a Georgia county that does not require testing but are moving to a Georgia county that does, you may need to set a reminder to go in and have it done . Here’s what you need to know.
Age and Location Matter
As of 2016, if your vehicle is a 1992 model year or newer and is registered in certain counties, you’ll have to have it tested. Counties that require emissions testing include Rockdale, Henry, Paulding, Gwinnett, Forsyth, Fulton, DeKalb, Coweta, Cherokee, Douglas, Cobb, Fayette, and Clayton, according to Georgia’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
If you live in one of these thirteen counties, your vehicle must be tested every year before you can register it. In the event that it does not pass registration, it’s a good idea to have it inspected four to six weeks prior to the registration date, which is the date of your birthday.
If your vehicle is a 2014 model year or newer, or if your vehicle is a 1991 model year or older, you are exempt from testing in Georgia, regardless of which county you live in.
Alternative Fuel Vehicles and other Exemptions
If your vehicle runs on E85 or gasoline, it’s a Flex Fuel vehicle and it must be tested. You must also have 100 percent regular gasoline in the tank. Additionally, hybrids such as the Ford Escape and Honda Civic must be tested since they run on gasoline when they reach the limit of the electrical power.
Vehicles that run on 100 percent battery electricity, natural gas, hydrogen, or propane are exempt from being tested, notes the DMV. Additional exemptions include RVs, motor homes, motorcycles, and diesel vehicles.
The inspector will use the vehicle’s data link connector to read the codes it stores in the computer. If the check engine light is lit, for example, the vehicle will fail the test, as an illuminated check engine light tells you that the vehicle stored a code. These codes let you know that something in the system is not working properly. If you have a soft code the check engine light will reset itself.
The only code that does this is an oxygen sensor, which means the oxygen sensor is sensing a rich or lean condition in the exhaust—too much or too little oxygen. It’s not the oxygen sensor that’s bad though; it’s something else causing the mixture to be considered incorrect. This could be a multitude of problems, including a bad spark plug, bad plug wire, a malfunctioning coil, or any number of things that affect the amount of unburned oxygen in the exhaust.
Buying a Used Vehicle
If you buy a used vehicle in one of the thirteen counties that require testing, the seller must ensure the vehicle has passed the test. The Georgia Vehicle Emissions Inspection Report is used for the initial registration and, if still valid, for one registration renewal. The inspection report is good for twelve months. The seller does not need to provide the buyer with a copy of the report; however, the report is on file at the tag office.
There are many differences in emissions testing across Georgia and South Carolina. It’s a good idea to stay informed when you’re in the process of relocating between states.