Euro 1 to Euro 6 Guide – Find Out your Vehicle's Emissions Standard

What Euro Emission Standard is my Car?

As the world becomes more environmentally aware, pollution and air quality have been thrown into the limelight. Car manufacturers are no longer permitted to release cars with high emissions which is why an increasing number of marques are now concentrating on hybrid and pure electric vehicles which release little to no harmful gasses. While the industry is taking notice and making moves to reduce the carbon footprint of drivers, you might be wondering: What Euro emission standard is my car? This essential guide is packed with all the information you need to know.

What are the European ‘Euro’ Emissions Standards?

Euro 1

Euro emissions are not new. In fact, they date back to the 1970s. That said, the first EU-wide standard known as Euro 1 wasn’t enforced until December 31, 1992 with the soul aim of improving the air we breathe and eliminating harmful toxins. The compulsory introduction of catalytic converters in new cars was the first step to standardising fuel injection, reducing carbon monoxide emissions and regaining control over the environmental impact of vehicles released into the market. While Euro 1 regulations were no way as strict the regulations of today, significant changes were made. For instance, drivers were forced to switch to unleaded petrol.

Two particular emissions that the Euro standards take into consideration are carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Hydrocarbons (HC) are also looked at closely as well as particulates (PM), total hydrocarbon emissions (THC) and non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC).

Euro 1 emissions standards for petrol and diesel looked like this…

Petrol:

CO: 2.72g/km
HC + NOx: 0.97g/km

Diesel:

CO: 2.72g/km
HC + NOx: 0.97g/km
PM: 0.14g/km

Euro 2

With the goal of further reducing carbon monoxide emissions, Euro 2 turned things up a notch and the regulations got a little stricter. The implementation date for new approvals was January 1996 with the implementation date for all new registrations being January 1997. Euro 2 also reduced the combined limit for unburned hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen for both petrol and diesel vehicles.

Euro 2 introduced different emissions limits for petrol and diesel. These were as follows:

Petrol:

CO – 2.2 g/km
HC+ NOx – 0/5 g/km
PM – no limit

Diesel:

CO – 1.0 g/km
HC+ NOx – 0.7 g/km
PM – 0.09 g/km

Euro 3

As you’d expect, each Euro emissions standard update came with a new set of rules to further make vehicles on the road more efficient. Euro 3, implemented between January 2000 (new approvals) and January 2001 (new registrations), was very much focussed on eliminating the engine warm-up period and introduced tighter carbon monoxide emissions limits. Euro 3 also split the hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide limits for petrol and diesel engines and added a separate nitrogen oxide limit for diesel engines.

Here’s what the Euro 3 emissions limits looked like:

Petrol:

CO: 2.3g/km
THC: 0.20g/km
NOx: 0.15g/km

Diesel:

CO: 0.66g/km
HC + NOx: 0.56g/km
NOx: 0.50g/km
PM: 0.05g/km

Euro 4

The next update didn’t come until January 2005 (new approvals) and January 2006 (new registrations). And this time, the spotlight was on cleaning up the emissions of diesel cars. Diesel engines have long been known for their pollutant qualities, but Euro standards have greatly reduced the amount of toxins released. Euro 4 focussed on reducing particular matter (PM) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) with some diesel vehicles being fitted with particulate filters.

Here’s what the Euro 4 limits looked like:

Petrol:

CO: 1.0g/km
THC: 0.10g/km
NOx: 0.08g/km

Diesel:

CO: 0.50g/km
HC + NOx: 0.30g/km
NOx: 0.25g/km
PM: 0.025g/km

Euro 5

Euro 5 was all about tightening the limits on particulate emissions from diesel vehicles. One type of particulate matter, for instance is the soot seen in vehicle exhausts. It can also be caused by unburned carbon in gas or oil. To meet the stringent new requirements, all new diesel cars had to be specially fitted with particulate filters. Euro 5 was careful to address the effects of very fine particular emissions, introducing a limit on particle numbers for diesel engines in addition to the particle weight limit. Euro 5 applied to new type approvals from September 2011 and new diesels cars from January 2013.

Interesting fact – Euro 5 vehicles that meet all the required standards emit the equivalent of one grain of sand per kilometre driven.

Here’s what the Euro 5 emissions limits looked like:

Petrol:

CO: 1.0g/km
THC: 0.10g/km
NMHC: 0.068g/km
NOx: 0.06g/km
PM: 0.005g/km (direct injection only)

Diesel:

CO: 0.50g/km
HC + NOx: 0.23g/km
NOx: 0.18g/km
PM: 0.005g/km
PN [#/km]: 6.0x10 ^11/km

Euro 6

Euro 6 was the standard imposed on most new registrations in September 2015 with very strict new rules being places on diesel models, in particular. The updates included a significant reduction in NOx emissions with a 67% NOx reduction for diesel vehicles in comparison to Euro 5 standards. This was all thanks to Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) which helps to prevent nitrogen from being oxidised to NOx during combustion.

Euro 6 cars may also be fitted with: a NOx absorber and a Selective Catalytic Reduction additive to convert NOx to nitrogen and water. An injection of Cerium into the fuel tank while refuelling can also assist with the Diesel Particulate Filters.

Here’s what the Euro 6 emissions look like:

Petrol:

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]: 6.0x10 ^11/km (direct injection only)

Diesel:

CO: 0.50g/km
HC + NOx: 0.17g/km
NOx: 0.08g/km
PM: 0.005g/km
PN [#/km]: 6.0x10 ^11/km

Euro 6d diesel cars

While the emissions for Euro 6 cars used to be tested in a laboratory where conditions were no way near as realistic as on-road driving, a new way of testing has emerged. Euro 6d diesel car emissions are tested through real-world driving with the help of mobile exhaust monitoring equipment. Every single new car from September 2019 must have undergone such new emissions testing to be given the new Euro 6d status. While the emissions limits set are much higher than those in the laboratory, they’re much more realistic and attainable while still being incredibly strict compared to previous emissions standards. That said; from January 2022, new cars must pass the real-world test with lower limits and will bring about an even cleaner generation of new car models.

Cars released in 2022 will be cheaper to tax, particularly for business users as Euro 6d diesel cars will not be subject to the 4% company car tax surcharge that’s currently placed on all other diesel models.

Why is it important to know the emissions standard of your vehicle?

Well firstly, if you’re trying to reduce your carbon footprint, knowing the emissions standard of your vehicle will help you decide if you should be looking for new or used cars for sale that are more efficient. After all, your vehicle could be pumping our more fuel than you thought and be costing you a fortune in comparison to other models, so it’s good to keep tabs of what’s what. Secondly, times are changing quickly, and emissions are becoming more and more important for many reasons.

These reasons include:

  • The Road to Zero

The first thing to be aware of is a government initiative called The Road to Zero. This strives to create a world where zero emissions road travel is possible and includes a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040 and a complete ban by 2050. So, if you’re wondering, will Euro 6 diesels be banned? The answer is, most likely. Especially if the plan runs smoothly.

  • Ultra-low emissions zones

What’s more, over the next few years, there looks set to be an increasing number of ultra-low emissions zones (ULEZ). Currently, London’s ULEZ puts restrictions on vehicles based on their emissions standards. The minimum emissions standards for the capital’s ULEZ are Euro 4 for petrol vehicles and Euro 6 for diesel vehicles. So, if you live, work in or regularly visit the capital, it’s important to make sure your vehicle is up to scratch. If it’s not you could face unwanted charges with the daily toll currently being £12.50 – although annual discounts are available.

Similarly, if you plan to buy a new diesel or find car financing deals that suit your needs and are a diesel fan, always look for models that meet Euro 6 emissions to avoid all those daily charges.

  • Planning a European road trip

If you want to drive through Europe and enjoy an adventure to remember, that’s all well and good. But, knowing the Euro emissions standard of your vehicle is essential. This is because there are certain countries, cities and regions with low-emissions zones that use Euro standards to regulate them. In France, for example, there’s the Crit’Air system which categorises vehicles based on their emissions. Vehicles are defined by a coloured, numbered sticker on the windscreen.

Moreover, if you want to pop along to Paris and see the wonderful sites in this part of the world including the Eiffel Tower, you’ll face even more difficulties if your vehicle is a high-polluting model. Paris has a permanent low-emissions zone in place which restricts entry to high-polluting vehicles at certain times during the week. Throughout France, you may also come across emergency restriction zones. Entry is permitted according to your Crit’Air vehicle category.

Exhaust Emissions Tests

On top of all this, you must also understand the MOT emissions test limits. As exhaust emissions are dangerous, the EU and UK government have introduced exhaust emissions tests to make sure all vehicles on the road are services properly and not pumping out more fuels than they need to due to poor maintenance. In the UK, this test will form part of your MOT. If a vehicle has emissions over the standard rates and the expectations set by Euro 4 and Euro 5, it will fail its MOT. All new vehicles are required to meet the emissions guidelines.

There are many reasons why your car might fail an emissions test, even if they’re in an efficient Euro standards band. But these issues are often easy to fix. They can include engine damage leading to excessive emissions as well as a badly fitted catalytic converter. As the converter’s job is to make gasses less harmful to the environment, a poorly fitted one could mean emission levels are far too high and need to be addressed. A faulty control system is another possible reason for excessive emissions. This is because the car engine might not receive the right blend of air and fuel, with a reduction in airflow resulting in high emissions.

If you’re looking for a high-quality used car that meets modern Euro emissions standards, take a look at the wide range of used cars from Carwise Group – a reputable car dealership based in Harlow and Maidstone. Remember, buying from a dealership has many benefits and is often considered much safer than going through a private seller. With Carwise Group, all vehicles have been thoroughly performance and safety checked for your peace of mind. They also come with the correct documentation, so you know exactly where the vehicle came from and can make an informed decision based on the car’s history. As a note, Carwise Group only ever adds the very best models to their line-up, with the sales team carefully handpicking models in excellent condition.