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New Mexico Car Inspection Laws

man fills out a clipboard inspection on a car

California was the first state in the U.S. to require emissions testing, starting in 1966. New Mexico followed suit in 1983 when our state instated vehicle inspection laws. They did so to prevent car accidents and mitigate the environmental impact of cars. Keep reading to learn about car inspection laws in New Mexico.

Car Inspection Requirements in New Mexico

New Mexico requires vehicle inspections to mitigate emissions and protect the environment. Emissions tests, otherwise known as smog checks, are required for some vehicles. Other New Mexico car inspection requirements vary depending on the vehicle type and location. For example, cars coming to New Mexico from another state must complete a vehicle identification number (VIN) inspection.

According to the City of Albuquerque website, any vehicle model year 1989 and after that weigh under 10,001 pounds must undergo emissions testing. However, there are exemptions whereby certain vehicles are exempt from emissions testing, including:

  • New vehicles purchased from a dealership or manufacturer that have remained in the original owner’s possession for the four years following initial registration with the Motor Vehicles Division (MVD)
  • Dedicated electric vehicles
  • Diesel vehicles
  • Vehicles that are only used for legally sanctioned competitions
  • Farm equipment
  • Vehicles that are not operated on public streets and highways
  • Vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 lbs. or more

Inspection requirements can vary depending on the jurisdiction in New Mexico where the automobile is registered or commuting from. For example, here in Bernalillo County, all motor vehicles, including gas-electric hybrid vehicles that plan to commute into our county must undergo emissions testing upon registration and once every other year.

Out-of-state vehicles, in contrast, aren’t required to pass emissions inspections if simply traveling through our state. However, anyone who moves to New Mexico from another state must bring their car to a certified MVD facility for a vehicle identification number (VIN) inspection. VIN inspections aid government regulators in identifying and preventing the trade of stolen vehicles.

New Mexico Emissions Testing Criteria

Any vehicle that the state of New Mexico deems needs to undergo emissions inspections must do so at least once every two years or upon any change of ownership. These inspections must take place at a certified Air Care Station. New Mexico requires emissions tests to meet the following criteria:

  • Test pollution control equipment to verify the catalytic converter component connections
  • Test visible emissions test to verify that there are no toxic particulate emissions as a result of burning oil or poor fuel combustion
  • Test gas cap pressure for vapor leaks
  • Diagnostic test of emissions control components functionality
  • Test tailpipe exhaust to measure the carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions

How To Determine if I Need a Smog Check in New Mexico

If you are unsure whether your location or type of vehicle needs to undergo regular New Mexico emissions testing, check the Albuquerque Air Care website. There, you can find updated lists of requirements and a map of inspection providers.

Even if the law doesn’t require your vehicle to undergo a car inspection, motorists can still get a safety inspection or emissions test to maintain their car’s good condition, check for any underlying safety issues, and extend their car’s longevity. The following factors can help you determine whether you should get an inspection. When in doubt, take your car to a certified car inspector for an assessment.

  • Vehicle age
  • Fuel type
  • Vehicle weight
  • Catalytic converter
  • Oil age
  • Battery replacement
  • Repair needs

How To Get a Car Inspection in New Mexico

Now that you understand the scenarios that necessitate car inspections in New Mexico, let’s look at how to get one.

Emissions inspections

There are 130 certified Air Care Station locations in the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County area. Find a station nearest you by checking the map at the aforementioned website. Emissions inspections shouldn’t cost more than $15 to $25 plus tax.

If your car needs an emissions inspection in another county, search your area for trusted, well-reviewed car maintenance and repair shops that are certified to offer one.

When getting an inspection, be sure to bring a payment method, your driver’s license, and proof of insurance. Most car inspections take less than an hour to complete.

VIN Inspections

To get a VIN inspection, visit one of seven MVD locations in the state. Make an appointment online to reserve a VIN inspector at your nearest MVD. A VIN inspection should take no more than 30 minutes. Bring the following materials and information with you to a VIN inspection:

  • Your driver’s license
  • Your address
  • Your vehicle year, make, and model
  • Your vehicle’s VIN
  • Your vehicle’s odometer reading
  • Registration documentation
  • Insurance documentation

Why New Mexico Vehicle Inspections Are Critical

New Mexico has inspection laws in place to keep our roads and environment safe. Not all cars in New Mexico are required to have regular inspections.

To summarize, if you don’t live in or commute to Bernalillo County, have an electric vehicle, or have a diesel vehicle, you don’t need emissions inspections. If you move to New Mexico from another state, visit an MVD for a VIN inspection. A quick inspection will keep you safe and compliant with New Mexico law.

What To Do if a Negligent Motorist’s Vehicle Injures You

However, just because you take precautions to ensure your vehicle is safe, doesn’t mean others will do the same. If you have suffered injuries due to another motorist’s failure to maintain a roadworthy vehicle, then reach out to our Albuquerque law firm of Buckingham & Vega Law Firm to discuss what happened.

Our car accident attorneys may inform you that you have a valid New Mexico injury claim. If so, you can file to recover compensation for any injuries and other losses you suffered as a result of any violations of New Mexico car inspection laws or something similar. Contact us to schedule a free initial consultation today to discuss your case.

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