Skip to main content

If you own a dealership or if you are a vehicle owner yourself, chances are you have heard of emissions testing. This article outlines emissions laws in Georgia, issues that can arise if these laws are neglected, and best practices to protect consumers and your dealership.

If you are more of an audio/visual type, click below to watch the YouTube version of this blog.

Georgia Emissions Law

In Georgia, counties dictate whether or not a vehicle needs an emissions test NOT the state. It is illegal in Georgia for a dealer to sell a vehicle to a consumer living in an emissions-required county if that vehicle does not have, “then passing” emissions– “then passing” meaning at the time of sale the emissions were valid in passing. Therefore, if a consumer purchases a car from a dealership outside of their county and their county requires an emissions test, the dealership must have proof of a passing emissions test at the time of the sale.

Common Emissions Issues

In my legal practice, I have seen dealerships enter messy legal battles when it comes to emissions because (1) the dealer didn’t know the consumer was in an emissions county, so they did not have the car tested, or (2) the dealer didn’t realize they were liable for emissions testing regardless of where the customer lives.

What You Can Do to Protect Your Business

Deciding how you want to approach emissions testing at your dealership can be a headache. Here are a few ways to navigate it and the pros and cons of each.

Option 1: Test at the time of sale

Dealers can wait to see where the customer lives at the time of sale. If the consumer is from an emissions county, they can then send the car for emissions testing.  While this practice may mitigate some expense, it is risky because the vehicle could come back with a failed emissions test resulting in the customer backing out of the sale. What is more, they often leave a Google review recounting how they spent the entire day negotiating a deal and then couldn’t actually buy the car because it didn’t pass an emissions test. Again, this is an option, but it comes with significant risk.


  • Save money in the short-term


  • Risk a failed test, loss of sale, and poor review (which costs you business/money in the long-term)

Option 2: Test all vehicles before listing 

The best practice is really to have every car tested for emissions before it goes up for sale, whether it’s sold to an emissions county resident or not. Now, for a dealership that is focussed on cutting costs and does not want to incur this cost, it might seem best to skip out on this, but you will inevitably pay for it in the long run if the customer is in an emissions county. Working the cost of emissions into your asking price for a vehicle helps protect everyone involved, eliminates surprise fees for your dealership, and prevents you from possibly losing a sale/repeat customer.


  • Customers do not have to wait for testing, making the sale process faster
  • Assurance that all vehicles are emissions passing
  • Lower risk of losing a sale and receiving a poor review


  • It will cost a bit more money upfront to emissions test your entire inventory

How Lefkoff Can Help You

If you are looking for more support when it comes to emissions laws in Georgia, you can find more information at You can also book a strategy session with us here. We’ll personalize your counsel and guide you through everything to ensure your business is protected.

Looking for more legal know-how to protect and empower your business? Join The Driveway, our monthly legal membership program. Check it out here!

Steven Lefkoff

Steven is the founder of Lefkoff Law and is committed to providing legal educational resources for businesses. Lefkoff Law serves Georgia-based small businesses and specializes in supporting car dealers.

Leave a Reply