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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: CHANGES TO ONTARIO’S DRIVE CLEAN PROGRAM

We’ve all seen it. In the thick of summer clouds of hazy smog form in big cities—like Toronto. Not only is smog gross but it affects the health of people who inhale it.

Cars let out emissions, which mix with particles in the air and the heat of sunlight, which create the haze. So if you own a car, what’s a way to help fix the problem? Ontario’s Drive Clean Program.

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The Drive Clean Program tests 2.3 million vehicles annually and cuts emissions by one third through vehicle emissions testing.

What is an emission test?

Emissions testing measures the amount of hazardous exhaust your vehicle releases. But before your car’s exhaust is analyzed for anything, there is a pre-test where your vehicle is checked for any problems that may prevent it from being tested like a missing catalytic converter and/or gas cap, defects in the fuel filler pipe, issues with your car’s computer system, or visible smoke coming from the tailpipe,

Once you have passed the pre-test the type of emissions test you receive depends on the type of vehicle you have:

  • Light-duty vehicles with a model year 1998 to present get an On Board Diagnostics test (OBD) where your vehicle’s computer is analyzed for emission troubles.
  • Light-duty vehicles with a model year 1988 to 1997, and certain heavy-duty gasoline vehicles require a tailpipe test, which measures hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide emissions.
  • Heavy-duty diesel vehicles receive an opacity test, which measures the density of the smoke leaving from the vehicle.

What does the Drive Clean Program do?

The Drive Clean Program requires vehicles that are seven years or older to pass an emissions test before the renewal of its registration and license plates.

  • Your vehicle’s emissions test can end in one of four ways: a pass, conditional pass, ‘not ready’ or failure.
  • A failure means that you must have the necessary repairs completed before retesting and renewing your license plate sticker.
  • A ‘not ready’ result occurs when your vehicles computer has been erased.

Conditional passes are granted to owners of light-duty vehicles that fail an initial Drive Clean test within the past 120 days – granted they have completed the repairs of at least the repair cost limit of $450 before tax at a Drive Test facility and then fail a retest. License plate stickers can be renewed with a conditional pass until the vehicles next scheduled testing in two years.

A pass means you will receive a Vehicle Inspection Report with a ‘pass’ clearly printed on it and you are free to renew your license plate sticker with it. The pass is good for one year and should be kept with your vehicle maintenance information.

What changes have been made?

If you are already familiar with the Drive Test system this may seem like nothing new. But there have been some recent changes by the provincial government that you should know about.

  1. The Drive Test Fee: The Drive Test is now free for light-duty vehicles, such as most cars, vans, SUVs and light trucks. To confirm whether your vehicle qualifies for a free Drive Test you can search your vehicle on this Government of Ontario’s online tool. However, if your vehicle fails its first emissions test you will be responsible for paying for all subsequent retests and any additional tests you desire.
  1. Reselling Your Vehicle: When re-selling your light-duty vehicle you no longer need to have it re-tested.
  1. Conditional Passes: You are no longer able to receive two conditional passes in a row if your vehicle fails its emissions test.
  1. Repairs: If your emissions test reveals that you need repairs on your vehicle, only fees paid for the emissions repairs qualify towards the $450 repair cost limit needed to receive a conditional pass.

Eastside Auto is a Drive Clean accredited test and repair facility. Come to one of our convenient locations for your Drive Clean test or emission repairs.

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This post was written by Glenn Colling

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