As the winter inversion season nears, it’s a good time to start thinking about ways to reduce emissions in Utah. While driving less will always be an important strategy, next time you’re car shopping make sure to choose a car with a good smog rating for when you do drive. The smog rating details tailpipe emissions that contribute to air pollution.


Cars with a higher smog rating produce less pollutants that harm Utah’s air quality. One such emission is PM2.5, a fine particulate matter that pollutes air. Along the Wasatch Front, vehicles contribute over half of the emissions that form PM2.5. Reducing PM2.5 pollutants is especially important in the winter as we deal with winter inversions. While we cannot control the inversion, we can control our actions that contribute to poor air quality.


When looking at cars, remember to get the best smog rating in the price class that you can afford. If a car with a smog rating of ten isn’t in your budget, keep in mind that a seven is still better than a five.


The EPA has detailed information on smog ratings that makes it easy to compare cars. If you are considering a used car, you can look at the Vehicle Emission Control Information sticker on the underside of the hood. If you are debating between multiple cars, the EPA has a side-by-side tool that makes comparing smog ratings easy.


One thing to keep in mind is the EPA has updated their guidelines for 2018 cars. These ratings have been recalibrated to include vehicles that adhere to a stricter standard: Tier 3. A model year 2018 smog rating of 3 is about the same as a model year 2017 smog rating of 6.


Keep the smog rating in mind if you’re in the market for a new car to help keep Utah’s air clean. For more information on smog ratings, visit the Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s website.