Background | Importance of Emissions Testing | Vehicle Testing | Title Transfers | License Renewal | More Information

Vehicle Owner

The Gateway Vehicle Inspection Program is part of Missouri’s continuing effort to improve air quality in the St. Louis region. All 1996 and newer gas-powered vehicles and 1997 and newer diesel-powered vehicles 8,500 pounds or less gross vehicle weight rating registered in the St. Louis nonattainment area will be subject to a combined emissions test and safety inspection. The nonattainment area includes registered vehicles in St. Louis City, Franklin, Jefferson, St. Louis and St. Charles counties. The Gateway Vehicle Inspection Program began Oct. 1, 2007. 

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Background on Emissions Testing Program Changes

In the summer of 2005, the department convened the Emissions Inspection and Maintenance (I/M Summit) to bring the St. Louis community together to consider and build consensus for a redesign of the vehicle emissions I/M program in St. Louis. Based upon the consensus of the I/M Summit, the Missouri General Assembly passed Senate Bill 583 in 2006. As a result of this legislation, the Gateway Clean Air Program, the centralized emissions inspection and maintenance program, ended Sept. 1. The program used the month of September to allow participating shops ample time to become familiar with the software and equipment necessary to perform the emissions test. The Gateway Vehicle Inspection Program began Oct. 1, 2007. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Missouri State Highway Patrol jointly administer the Gateway Vehicle Inspection Program.

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The Importance of Emissions Testing

Why does my vehicle need to be tested?
Motor vehicles are a leading source of air pollution in the St. Louis area due to the large number of vehicles on the road and amount of miles traveled daily. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has designated the counties of St. Charles, St. Louis, Franklin, Jefferson and St. Louis City as an ozone nonattainment area. The area does not meet the federal health-based air quality standards for ground-level ozone, a strong lung irritant.

The Gateway Vehicle Inspection Program will be an important part of the eight-hour ozone plan designed to bring the St. Louis area into attainment by June 2010. The federally-required I/M program is designed to reduce passenger vehicle emissions.

Studies show those most affected by poor air quality are those with respiratory illnesses. When passenger vehicle emissions react with heat and sunlight, ground-level ozone is formed. Because ground-level ozone is highly reactive, high concentrations can cause throat irritation, congestion, chest pains, nausea and labored breathing for anyone exposed to this pollution. Ozone can also aggravate the breathing of those with lung or heart conditions. Performing repairs on the vehicle before emissions issues worsen will help reduce ground-level ozone. Everyone benefits from improved air quality when the release of excessive vehicle emissions are prevented.

Does my vehicle need a test?

Are vehicles operating more cleanly today than ever before?
Vehicles manufactured in 2007 are designed to operate more cleanly than the new vehicles of 1970. Vehicles manufacturers have complied with more stringent emissions standards set by the federal government each year. New emissions devices combined with unleaded fuel have improved vehicle emissions during the past 37 years; however, manufacturers still have no control over routine maintenance of a vehicle once it leaves the dealership.

Vehicles 1995 and older registered in the nonattainment area made up 20 to 23 percent of the vehicle fleet in 2007. The impact on ground-level ozone from these older vehicles will continue to decrease as these vehicles become a smaller percent of the fleet and are phased-out.

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Vehicle Testing

How do motorists know when to have vehicles tested?
The Missouri Department of Revenue will continue to mail vehicle registration papers 60 days prior to plate expiration to notify motorists when to have their vehicles emissions tested and safety inspected. Vehicles with an even model year are tested in even years, and vehicles with an odd model year are tested in odd years. An emissions test is also required any time an eligible vehicle undergoes a title change. At the time of the title transfer, the seller is required to provide the purchaser with a valid emissions inspection compliance certificate or compliance waiver.

Where can I go to have my vehicle emissions tested?
The state will license auto shops in the St. Louis area to conduct the emissions testing. All currently licensed safety inspection stations are encouraged to participate in the program.

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What is the cost of an emissions test?
The emissions testing fee should not exceed $24, and the safety inspection fee should not exceed $12. The station shall determine the acceptable forms of payment. The fees should include one free reinspection, if the same licensed station conducts it within 20 business days.

How long is my emissions test valid?
Once a vehicle receives a passing emissions test, the motorist will receive a Vehicle Inspection Report. This test is valid for registration purposes for 60 days. If the vehicle owner allows the emissions test to expire, the vehicle will have to be reinspected at cost to the motorist.

If my vehicle fails, where can I go to have it repaired?
Anyone may perform necessary repairs for the vehicle. Customers are not required to have repairs completed at the station that performs their vehicle’s emissions test. It is important to note that waiver criteria may affect where a motorist chooses to have repairs performed. For more information see Waiver Criteria or Failed Vehicles.

What is required for retesting my vehicle?
If your vehicle has been repaired, it’s time to get ready for a retest. Retests are required until your vehicle passes or until you obtain a cost-based waiver from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Once repairs are completed, the vehicle must return to the initial testing station within 20 business days to qualify for one free reinspection. After 20 business days, you will be required to pay the full emissions test fee again.

The vehicle owner must present a completed repair data sheet that is filled out and signed by whomever repaired the vehicle. This information will be used to provide performance ratings for Missouri Recognized Repair Technicians as well as facilitate cost-based waiver issuance.

Before you retest...drive your repaired vehicle normally for several days before returning to the station that initially performed the emissions test. Doing so can help reset your vehicle’s readiness monitors. For more information see readiness.

Are safety inspections still required by the state?
Safety inspection requirements are not changing. The Gateway Vehicle Inspection Program combines the safety inspection and emissions testing requirements for vehicles registered in the St. Louis ozone nonattainment area. Model year vehicles 1995 and older are not subject to the emissions portion of the program, but are still subject to all safety inspection requirements. Any auto shop that currently performs safety inspections may continue to offer safety only inspections and may choose not to participate in the Gateway Vehicle Inspection Program. However, auto shops must join the program to perform emissions testing on 1996 and newer vehicles.

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Title Transfers

What if I purchase a used vehicle?
State law requires automobile dealers to sell vehicles that will pass the emissions test. The dealer may choose to test the vehicle prior to the sale and provide the motorist with the passing emissions test or a cost-based waiver. Purchasers should understand that if the vehicle received a waiver, it will likely fail future emissions tests. If the dealer chooses not to provide either a passing test or waiver, the owner should get the vehicle tested within 10 days or 1,000 miles of the purchase date. Should the vehicle fail the emissions test, the owner may return it to the dealer for repairs needed to get it to pass the emissions test (no waivers allowed). If the dealer cannot get the vehicle to pass the emissions test, the dealer must reach another agreement with the vehicle owner.

State law requires private sellers of vehicles to provide the purchaser with a current emissions test approval or waiver for the vehicle prior to the sale. The vehicle purchaser has 60 days from the date of the emissions test to register the vehicle. For more information see Consumer Protection Information for Used Car Buyers Fact Sheet.

I had my vehicle tested last year when I purchased it; why do I have to test it again this year?
The Gateway Vehicle Inspection Program tests even-model year vehicles biennially during even calendar years and odd-model year vehicles biennially during odd calendar years. An emissions test is required any time an eligible vehicle undergoes a title change. In some cases, when a used vehicle is sold, an emissions test may be required in two successive years.

For example, if a 2000 vehicle is purchased in 2007, the seller is required to provide a passing emissions test to the buyer to register the vehicle. The seller, not the buyer, should pay for the test that occurs in 2007. In 2008, the vehicle would be required to pass an another emissions test paid for by the new owner based on the even model year testing schedule. In this instance, the vehicle was required to have an emissions test in two successive years. However, the vehicle would not be scheduled for another emissions test until 2010.

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License Renewal

Now that my vehicle has passed its inspections, how do I renew my license?
Vehicle owners that receive a PIN number on their vehicle renewal notice may register online at www.plates.mo.gov. The Department of Revenue will mail your renewal stickers soon after they finalize your online renewal. You should allow 10 days for your stickers to arrive and plan your renewal accordingly. Vehicle owners should apply the stickers properly to their license plates. The stickers are proof that the vehicle owner has renewed their license, not the online confirmation. The vehicle owner can also visit a license fee office for vehicle registration and plate renewal purposes.

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