New Drive Clean test could mean more money out of pocket (con't) 

The new test only covers light-duty vehicle (cars and lighter SUVs) models from 1998 to the present because that’s when on-board diagnostic (OBD) computers became standard in Canadian vehicles.

The tailpipe test will still be used on older vehicles – about 500,000 are on provincial roads – and heavier duty SUVs and pick-up trucks for model years 1998 – 2006.

Environment ministry spokeswoman Kate Jordan says the new test is much more efficient in detecting pollutants because it checks various emission systems on the vehicle, such as the engine, transmission, fuel system, and emissions control.

“You’ll be able to diagnose what exactly is causing the problem which will make repairs more efficient,” she said.

When the OBD system detects an emissions related malfunction, a Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) is stored in the on-board computer.

 This shows there is something wrong with the emissions control system and a repair is needed.

Drive Clean outlets, often service stations or car dealerships, are in the midst of converting their equipment.

Jordan did not have a price for the new equipment but said it is cheaper than the old tail pipe test equipment.

“The old equipment was much more involved,” she said.

But Drive Clean outlets that don’t purchase the new equipment can’t be accredited to do tests on post-1997 light-duty models.

But beware if you have a check engine light lit up on your dashboard.

“It’s not as if because you have the light on you’re automatically going to fail but because the light is on it could be an emissions problem and then that would result in the failure,” Jordan said.

So prior to even paying for the Drive Clean test motorists will now have to pay a garage to diagnose the reason the light is on (often up to $100) and then pay to repair any problem.

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Drive Clean simply adds to motorist costs - critic

While the Ontario government continues to test vehicle emissions – now with an entirely new computer-based system – other jurisdictions are moving to eliminate such tests. Progressive Conservative transportation critic Frank Klees says British Columbia is eliminating its version of Drive Clean by 2014. And he said several American states have ended similar programs. Drive Clean was actually introduced under a former PC government. But Klees said the “life of this program would probably be in the range of 10 year.” only and that time has passed. The reason? Manufacturers would “receive a signal very clearly” they had to improve emission standards. That is now “a commitment that has been made.” The cars already on the road with lower standards were the ones to be tested until most no longer remained. “As it stands today we believe that this program has outlived its purpose,” he said. And Klees agreed it will add more costs to the consumer. If the car battery has been disconnected or the car recently repaired the computer’s vehicle history might not be readable, and the test re-taken. “It’s going to add additional costs,” he said. Ministry of Environment spokeswoman Kate Jordan, asked if the new test would increase motorists’ costs, replied: “The new test will better identify any needed repairs because it will diagnose any problems causing emissions which could see failure rates decrease over time.” – 23/1/13