Frequently Asked Questions

Why does southeastern Wisconsin need a vehicle inspection program?

In order to attain and maintain the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone, the Clean Air Act requires continued reductions in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions. The Wisconsin Vehicle Inspection Program (WIVIP) contributes to this effort by reducing VOC and NOx emissions from vehicles in seven southeastern Wisconsin counties. These emission reductions are an important part of Wisconsin’s overall air quality improvement strategy.

For details about the program, please see the latest I/M program annual report at . More information on mobile source emissions can be found at the US Environmental Protection Agency and at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

What is the vehicle inspection procedure?

All vehicles will receive an OBD inspection. The inspection consists of verifying that the vehicle's check engine light is working and communicating with your vehicle's on-board computer. On Board Diagnostic testing procedures are detailed here.

Will your vehicle pass the inspection?

A well-maintained vehicle should continue to pass the inspection. Nine out of ten vehicles pass the inspection.

What if your vehicle fails the inspection?

If your vehicle fails, it will need to be repaired and brought back for reinspection. Motorists are provided information to help the repair technician diagnose the cause of the failure. Motorists are also given information so they can review the track records of repair facilities to help them decide on where to take their vehicle for repairs. A list of state recognized repair facilities is also available to help you make decisions about where to have your vehicle repaired.

What if I need more time to have my vehicle repaired and retested?

Registration Renewal Tests: If your license plates are expiring, you would need to purchase a 30-day temporary license plate. They can be purchased either by mail, or in person at DMV Customer Service Centers or Wisconsin Vehicle Inspection Facility (in the office area). There is a $3 charge for the temporary plates and an additional counter fee if purchased at either a DMV center or inspection facility. A vehicle may be eligible for up to 3 temporary plates and some restrictions apply.

Change of Ownership Tests: If you recently purchased the vehicle and are nearing the end of the 45 day testing window, you would need to call the following number for a one-time 30 day extension: 1-866-OBD-TEST. There is no charge for this service. The 30-day extension can not be issued at the vehicle inspection station.

Can I renew my license plate stickers at all emission inspection facility locations?

After meeting emission-testing requirements, most motorists can now purchase their vehicle license plate stickers at all emission-testing locations. There is a $10 fee for this registration renewal service and some restrictions apply. Call the inspection facility for payment options. Please ask the emission inspector for details.

Do I have to get out of my vehicle?

Generally, all passengers and pets will have to exit the vehicle while the inspector is driving it. If it is necessary for you to stay in the vehicle during the inspection, you may move out of the driver's position to another seat in the car while the inspector tests your vehicle. If you have a specific concern, please see the station manager.

My vehicle is not in the area for a few months and needs a test. What do I do?

Please complete an application for temporary exemption from the testing requirement until the vehicle is back in the area. The exemption form is MV2472 and instructions are on the form.

How early can I get my vehicle inspected ahead of the license plate renewal expiration deadline?

Vehicles subject to emissions inspection may fulfill the inspection requirement up to 180 days prior to their license plate renewal date. You can determine whether your vehicle is due for inspection within the next 180 days by entering your license plate on WisDOT's plate inquiry page. If the inquiry result page includes the statement "IM test is needed," your vehicle's plate renewal date falls within the next 180 days. You do not need a renewal statement in order to receive your inspection- simply visit the station registration desk, located within the office area, prior to getting in line for an inspection.

Are you buying a used vehicle?

Vehicles more than five model years old are required to be inspected upon change of ownership. Motorists receive notice of the emission-testing requirement after they have titled and registered the vehicle. Failure to complete the emission requirement within the allotted 45-day time period will result in the suspension of the newly purchased vehicle's registration.

Who can I call for more information?

All program questions can be directed to 1-866-OBD-TEST (1-866-623-8378).