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In the auto industry, there is a fairly long list of regulations that are consistent across the state of Georgia.  One thing that is strangely not consistent from county to county that can get auto dealerships into sticky legal situations is EMISSIONS.  Auto dealers in Georgia have a long list of regulations to abide by. In this article, we discuss How to Navigate Georgia Emissions Testing Laws.

Who Dictates Emissions Testing Requirements?

In Georgia, whether a county is emissions required is determined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which reviews information provided by the state when determining whether a county is an emissions-required county. Click here for more information.

It is illegal 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. The key phrase here is then passing, in other words at the time of sale, the emissions were valid in passing. It is against Georgia law for a dealer to sell a car to a customer before it has been emissions tested.

Why Are Emissions Testing Requirements Risky for Auto-Dealers?

Auto dealers don’t always get cars tested for emissions before they sell them because not all of their customers are from emission-required counties. This can become messy very quickly for dealerships. Our law firm has seen far too many dealerships enter messy legal battles when it comes to emissions because (1) the dealer didn’t know the customer 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.

Pros Cons
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.  For a dealership that is focused on cutting costs and does not want to incur this cost, it might seem best to skip this step.  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. It eliminates surprise fees for your dealership, and prevents you from possibly losing a sale/repeat customer.

Pros Cons

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

Need Support Navigating Emissions Claims?

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!

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