Smoking Vehicle Program 1-800-453-SMOG
To report a smoking vehicle in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, which includes Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Erath, Hood, Hunt, Johnson, Kaufman, Navarro, Palo Pinto, Parker, Rockwall, Somervell, Tarrant, and Wise Counties, go to the North Central Texas Regional Smoking Vehicle Program Web Site.
- The Problem
- How Reporting Works
- Does this Apply to Diesel Vehicles?
- What Causes Tailpipe Smoke?
- To Report a Smoking Vehicle
- Can Out of State Vehicles be Reported?
- What Happens After a Vehicle is Reported?
- What to Do if Your Vehicle is Reported
- Voluntary Response Form
- Other Steps For Cleaner Air
How often have you been caught in traffic behind a car, truck, or bus that is emitting smoke? You smell the fumes, roll up your window, close the vents, and look for your first chance to pass. It makes you angry.
Not surprisingly, a large percentage of the air pollution in Texas comes from the more than 17 million motor vehicles registered in the state. Each vehicle has the potential to be a source of air pollution. However, poorly-maintained vehicles are the biggest contributors to the pollution problem.
How Reporting Works
You can help the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) get the word to owners of smoking vehicles in Texas. The next time you see a car, truck, or bus anywhere in Texas with dirty smoke coming from its exhaust for more than 10 consecutive seconds, write down the license number, date, time, and city where you saw the smoking vehicle.
Report the smoking vehicle, within 30 days, by submitting the online reporting form in English or Spanish or by calling 1-800-453-SMOG (7664). You do not have to give your name, and the report is free.
The TCEQ will then notify the owner that his or her vehicle may be contributing to air pollution by smoking excessively. The TCEQ will also provide the owner with information about how car maintenance will improve the vehicle's performance.
Does this Apply to Diesel Vehicles?
Yes, diesels are affected. The TCEQ is aware that some diesel-powered motor vehicles may emit brief puffs of smoke when first started, or while under a heavy load, such as passing or climbing a steep hill pulling a trailer. However, according to state regulations, no motor vehicle should produce visible exhaust emissions for more than ten consecutive seconds. This law applies to all vehicles regardless of fuel type.
What Causes Tailpipe Smoke?
Tailpipe smoke is a result of incomplete fuel combustion, which is usually caused by improper engine operation in both gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. When a vehicle and its engine are not properly maintained, the likelihood of engine problems and smoke increases.
Although the smoke, as a whole, is problematic, its color can be helpful in indicating the potential source of the vehicle's problems.
To Report a Smoking Vehicle
(1) Upon observing a smoking vehicle, please make note of the following information:
- Texas license plate number
- Date observed
- Time (AM/PM)
(2) Report the information to the TCEQ, within 30 days, by one of the following methods:
- Report a smoking vehicle online (English)
- Report a smoking vehicle online (Spanish)
- Call 1-800-453-SMOG (7664)
- Send a fax to 512/239-5687
- Mail the information to:
- Smoking Vehicle Program, MC-206
- Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
- P.O. Box 13087
- Austin, Texas 78711-3087
Can Out of State Vehicles be Reported?
The TCEQ's Smoking Vehicle Program is not designed to accept reports on vehicles that are registered outside of Texas. The TCEQ does not have the resources or the authority to retrieve data on vehicle owners from other states.
However, state law prohibits any person from operating a motor vehicle emitting visible smoke for 10 seconds or longer on Texas roadways. Therefore, law enforcement authorities statewide do have the authority to issue citations to the drivers of out-of-state vehicles if they are observed violating this law.
What Happens After a Vehicle is Reported?
The TCEQ's smoking vehicle program is designed as a public outreach strategy to encourage the citizens of Texas to voluntarily maintain and repair their cars, trucks, and buses and to promote public awareness regarding the harmful emissions and air pollution caused by smoking vehicles. Because smoking vehicle reports are submitted anonymously, the TCEQ does not investigate reported sightings nor issue any enforcement actions for alleged violations.
The extent of the action taken by the TCEQ regarding smoking vehicle reports is the mailing of a notification letter to the registered owners of the reported vehicles. The letter notifies them their vehicles were reported to be observed emitting excessive visible exhaust emissions. It also encourages them to make repairs, if needed.
Although the smoking vehicle program is not a TCEQ enforcement program, the smoking vehicle notification letters inform vehicle owners that they can be ticketed for operating a smoking vehicle on Texas roadways. State law under Section 547.605 of the Texas Transportation Code prohibits motor vehicles with excessive visible smoke emissions from operating on Texas roadways. Law enforcement authorities statewide may issue citations, punishable by a fine of not more than $350, to the owner of "a vehicle that emits visible smoke for 10 seconds or longer."
What to Do if Your Vehicle is Reported
If you receive a letter from the TCEQ notifying you that your vehicle was observed emitting excessive exhaust smoke, please examine your vehicle's exhaust for dirty or excessive smoke. The TCEQ encourages you to correct the problem if the smoke persists for more than ten consecutive seconds.
If your vehicle was reported erroneously, please do not be concerned. Because the smoking vehicle reports are submitted anonymously, the TCEQ does not investigate reported sightings nor issue any enforcement actions for alleged violations based on the reports received. The TCEQ does not keep records of the reported vehicles nor any personal information regarding the registered owners.
If you no longer own the reported vehicle, you can notify the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) that you are not the current owner by submitting a Texas Motor Vehicle Transfer Notification Form to the TxDMV's Vehicle Titles and Registration Division. The TxDMV will keep the form on file to record the date that the vehicle was transferred to the buyer and the name and address of the buyer.
You can submit the form online at the TxDMV Web site. However, the TxDMV will not remove your name from this vehicle's title records until a new Texas Certificate of Title has been issued with the name of the new owner.
If you have further questions about the vehicle title and registration process, please call the TxDMV's Vehicle Titles and Registration Division at 888/368-4689.
Voluntary Response Form
The TCEQ appreciates the voluntary cooperation of Texans to help ensure cleaner air in Texas. If you have received a smoking vehicle notification letter from the TCEQ, please complete the Voluntary Response Form to help the TCEQ determine the effectiveness of the Smoking Vehicle Program. This form is also available in Spanish.
Other Steps For Cleaner Air
By reporting smoking vehicles, you can do your share for cleaner air. You can also help out by taking the following steps:
- Carpool or ride the bus
- Bicycle to work
- Don’t let your engine idle unnecessarily
- Drive smoothly — avoid jack-rabbit starts/stops
- Plan ahead to combine trips
- Refuel your vehicle late in the evening or after dark
- Don’t top off your tank
- Make sure your tires are properly inflated
- Keep your car or truck maintained
- Have your automobile inspected