Washington clean cars

Transportation is the largest source of carbon pollution in Washington. Transportation contributes about 22 percent of total air pollution and 45 percent of greenhouse gas emissions throughout the state. Vehicle pollution causes health problems, such as cancer and asthma, and also contributes to climate change.

Committed to cleaner vehicles

Washington’s current clean cars program includes requirements for low emission vehicles:

  • Passenger cars – vehicles designed to transport up to 12 people
  • Light-duty trucks – vehicles weighing less than 8,500 pounds
  • Medium-duty passenger vehicles – vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds designed to transport people

Zero emission vehicle standards (ZEV)

Increasing the number of zero emission vehicles on our roads will reduce total greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year by 2030.

On March 25, 2020, Gov. Jay Inslee signed the Motor Vehicle Emission Standards – Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) bill. This bill directs Ecology to adopt California vehicle emission standards, including zero emission vehicle standards that require a percentage of the vehicles sold in Washington to be zero emission. Once the standards are adopted, consumers will have more zero emission vehicles to choose from starting with the 2025 model year.

Ecology started this rulemaking on June 22, 2021. Rulemaking usually starts at the rule announcement phase. However, we started at the rule proposal phase because the Legislature directed us to adopt California’s rules as written (RCW 70A.30.010).

The rulemaking includes:

  • Zero-emission standards for passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty vehicles
  • Zero-emission standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks (what California calls the Advanced Clean Trucks rule)
  • Low-emission vehicle requirements for medium-duty vehicles

More information about this rulemaking

Buying a car in Washington

New vehicles that do not meet Washington's vehicle emission standards cannot be registered, licensed, rented, or sold here — even if they meet federal standards. It is your responsibility to make sure your car meets the state standards.

If you buy a new car in Washington, then you can register it in Washington. Washington car dealers must sell vehicles that meet California's vehicle emission standards. If you buy a car with less than 7,500 miles that doesn't meet the California standards, then you can't register it in Washington. If you a buy a car with more than 7,500 miles, then you can register it in Washington.

Other states, including Oregon and California, have the same vehicle emission standards. If you buy a  2009 or newer model car in one of those states, it will meet state standards.