‘Check engine’ light on? Read this now!

Brenda Wynn

Brenda Wynn, Davidson County Clerk

When it’s time to renew your tags, you should be aware of new state regulations that have overruled a long-term grace period offered to residents of Davidson County. Up until recently, if you failed your car emissions test for renewal of your auto tags/registration, you could then get an extension for 30 days until you had it repaired.

Recently the state has enacted regulations that no longer allow the county to issue temporary operating permits once you fail the test. This means that if you get your emissions tested and fail, you cannot operate your vehicle once your plates expire.

Brenda Wynn, Davidson County Clerk, recommends that you come to the Clerk’s office and get a temporary operating permit prior to getting your vehicle tested if you feel there is a high probability your car will fail. The extra thirty days will give you a little more time to get your car repaired. If your ‘Check engine’ light is on, or your car is smoking, here’s what she suggests:

“My recommendation is to spend $12 if your ‘check engine’ light is on and you don’t have the time and money to get the car fixed. Come spend the $12; that will let your operate your car legally for another 30 days. That way you don’t have to worry about getting pulled over for having expired plates.”

From the Davidson County Clerk’s Office official website:
Here are the rules for Temporary Operating Permit (commonly referred to as a Temp Tag or Drive Out Tag):

If you are unable to apply for your vehicle’s registration, then under certain circumstances you may be able to obtain a temporary operating permit.

To apply for your Temporary Operating Permit, provide the following in person at the main office or one of five satellite locations:
• Vehicle make, model, year, color, Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and date of purchase (if applicable)
• Reason for applying: title problems or not available for timely registration, not ready to be tested for emissions, other
• Proof of ownership (title, title signed over, and/or notarized bill of sale and seller proof of ownership )
• One photo identification containing a distinguishing number (Tenn. Driver License), or two other forms of identification
• Completed and signed application (the applicant must attest that due to certain issues they are unable to obtain their registration)

In addition, be aware of the following:
• There is a fee of $12.

For any extenuating or unusual circumstances visit the main office only.

If you have purchased your vehicle from a Tennessee dealer or a Tennessee auction, you must return to your dealer for a Temporary Operating Permit. Our office cannot issue a permit for a new or used vehicle sold through an auction or dealership.

You must be a Davidson County resident. If not, then you must go to the county in which you reside or to the Tenn. Department of Revenue.

The vehicle must be registered to the person making application (or the person applying must have power of attorney for the registered owner).

Temporary Operating Permits cannot be issued on salvage vehicles.

Temporary Operating Permits cannot be issued for failed Emissions test.

For additional information contact the Tennessee Department of Revenue at 615-741-3101.