Euro 1 to 6: Where Does Your Car Sit

With climate change evidence mounting further and being environmentally aware becoming the norm, car emissions and standards are important topics of discussion to help improve the world we live in.

Have you ever wondered what the Euro emission standards mean and whether your car meets the latest Euro 6 standards? We put together a guide to help you understand the details.

What are the Euro Emission Standards?

The first emission regulations date all the way back to the 1970s. However, the Euro Emission standards were first introduced in 1992. The initial standard is now known as Euro 1. This standardised fuel injection and made catalytic converters mandatory in vehicles.

The standards were introduced to help improve air quality by reducing air pollution and are to become more stringent and severe over time. They define the limits accepted for exhaust emissions of new vehicles sold in the EU and EEA member states.

Since the introduction of Euro emissions regulations, all vehicles on European roads must meet a standard depending on the type of vehicle and when it was built. This is determined by the results of tests carried out by car manufacturers to simulate levels of hazardous emissions produced in certain driving conditions. Vehicles need to meet a different set of criteria for each Euro standard.

What Euro emissions rating is my car?

Below is a guide that outlines how the different Euro emissions categories are applied after specific dates to new car models. Do take note that if your vehicle is older than the dates shown, it won’t have a Euro emissions standard. This means you could be banned from entering certain towns and cities at times.

table describing euro emissions standards

If you’re not sure, use this government look-up tool here: Car fuel and CO2 emissions data

Euro 1

Car registered from 1 January 1993

This was the first European emission standard for diesel and petrol cars. All petrol cars from this point onwards required a catalytic converter and had to run on unleaded petrol to reduce carbon monoxide emissions. It did not include a separate measurement requirement for NOx (Nitrogen Oxides). The emission standards were CO: 2.72g/km, HC + NOx: 0.97g/km for petrol and CO: 2.72g/km, HC + NOx: 0.97g/km, PM: 0.14g/km for diesel.

Euro 2

Car registered from 1 January 1997

With the implementation of Euro 2 limits were reduced for carbon monoxide, unburned hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen. There were different emissions limits for petrol and diesel. However, it still did not include a separate measurement requirement for NOx. Emission standards were CO: 2.2g/km

HC + NOx: 0.5g/km for petrol and CO: 1.0g/km, HC + NOx: 0.7g/km, PM: 0.08g/km for diesel.

Euro 3

Car registered from 1 January 2001

Euro 3 introduced a separate NOx emissions limit for diesel and petrol engines. Carbon monoxide and diesel particulate limits were also reduced. The warm-up ‘grace’ period was also removed from the testing procedure, making it harder to meet the standards. Emission standards were CO: 2.3g/km, THC: 0.20g/km, NOx: 0.15g/km for petrol and CO: 0.66g/km, HC + NOx: 0.56g/km, NOx: 0.50g/km, PM: 0.05g/km for diesel.

Euro 4

Car registered from 1 January 2006

There was a focus on cleaning up emissions from diesel cars with particular attention to nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. It also halved the acceptable limit of carbon monoxide for petrol engines. The limits for diesels dropped to CO: 0.50g/km, HC + NOx: 0.30g/km, NOx: 0.25g/km, PM: 0.025g/km and CO: 1.0g/km, THC: 0.10g/km, NOx: 0.08g/km for petrol.

Euro 5

Car registered from 1 January 2011

From Euro 5 onwards all diesel vehicles were now required to have Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs). Having a DPF can significantly boost the emissions system’s ability to reduce emissions, capturing 99% of all particulate matter.

Unfortunately, DPFs can get clogged up over time, especially if you mainly drive shorter distances. Often a motorway journey can help the system clear unburnt soot, but sometimes the system will be too clogged up at which point your DPF may need forced regeneration or physical cleaning.

Emissions limits were further reduced for diesels to CO: 0.50g/km, HC + NOx: 0.23g/km, NOx: 0.18g/km, PM: 0.005g/km, PN [#/km]: 6.0×10 ^11/km and for petrol to CO: 1.0g/km, THC: 0.10g/km, NMHC: 0.068g/km, NOx: 0.06g/km, PM: 0.005g/km (direct injection only).

Euro 6

Car registered from 1 September 2015 

Cars sold before September 2016 may still have a Euro 5 engine rating – Please check with your manufacturer. 

There was a further significant reduction in NOx emissions. For diesel in particular, the permitted level of NOx has been reduced to 0.08g/km from 0.18g/km in Euro 5.

The complete emission standard for diesel engines are CO: 0.50g/km, HC + NOx: 0.17g/km, NOx: 0.08g/km, PM: 0.005g/km, PN [#/km]: 6.0×10 ^11/km.

While the emission standards for petrol are CO: 1.0g/km, THC: 0.10g/km, NMHC: 0.068g/km, NOx: 0.06g/km, PM: 0.005g/km (direct injection only), PN [#/km]: 6.0×10 ^11/km (direct injection only).

These new limits have made it much harder for manufacturers to meet emissions regulations, prompting many to introduce new innovative technologies to meet standards. One such technology is Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) for diesel vehicles. A chemical reaction brought on by the injection of a special liquid into the exhaust converts nitrogen oxide emissions into water and nitrogen. These are then forced out through the exhaust pipe.

For petrol cars, an Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) valve is usually chosen to burn off excess emissions. Unfortunately, EGRs are prone to clogging up and may need periodical cleaning to ensure they work effectively. For more info on getting your EGR replaced see here.

How to know if my car is Euro 6

Euro 6 standards are the cleanest cars to date producing the lowest amount of exhaust pollutants ever to improve air quality. Most vehicles registered after September 2015, will be Euro 6 compliant as standard. However, it is advised to check with the manufacturer to be sure as some cars sold before 1st September 2016 may still have a Euro 5 engine.

To check whether or not your car meets Euro 6 standards, simply enter its details into the emissions look-up tool on the dedicated government website or check your vehicle owner’s manual.

In some city centres with congestion charges, if your vehicle is non-compliant, you could be liable to pay a fee that goes towards the improvement of air quality. As stricter measures come into place, it is likely that further incentives will be put into place encouraging drivers to switch to Euro 6.

For further reading on how you can contribute to reducing vehicle emissions, here are 7 Ways To Reduce Your Car’s Carbon Footprint.

Will there be a Euro 7 standard in the UK?

It is believed that the EU will introduce a Euro 7 standard in the coming years. With the UK itself having goals to reduce carbon emissions by 80% before 2025, it is very likely these new regulations will be adopted in the UK too to make it easier for manufacturers to supply the British isles with the latest models.

Standardised regulations make it easier for manufacturers across borders to build vehicles for different markets and ensure costs can be kept down for consumers, including for UK manufacturers looking to export.

Can I make my car Euro 6 compliant?

It is unlikely that you will be able to make an older vehicle Euro 6 compliant without a significant financial outlay and technological expertise. Simply put, it is unlikely to be worth the investment and it is unlikely to be cost-effective to make an older vehicle compliant, it would be much simpler to purchase a newer vehicle that meets the regulations.

How do Euro standards affect MOT tests?

Emissions are one part of things checked during an MOT test. The emissions from your vehicle will need to be below the legal limit of the respective Euro standard for your vehicle.

The DVLA has put stricter requirements around the exhaust system and emissions in place for MOTs following new regulations introduced in May 2018.

One of these new MOT failure points for diesels is that a vehicle will fail its MOT if the tester finds that the DPF has been tampered with, or has been removed altogether. Furthermore, if a DPF is fitted, a major fault can also be recorded if there is any sign of “visible smoke of any colour” during the test, at which point the vehicle will also fail its MOT.

ClickMechanic can help save you time by sending out a mobile mechanic to collect your vehicle and take it for its MOT. Once the MOT is complete you can decide if you want the mechanic to undertake the work your vehicle may need in order to pass the test.