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Vehicle Emissions Testing: Understanding the New Changes

What to do if your vehicle doesnt pass the new emissions testing.

So, you got your notice from the state saying your vehicle is due for emissions testing.

As always, you drive over to the test station, but what is this? The station is closed! Worse yet, it is has chains across the entrance and there is a for sale sign in the grass. Now what?

Take a better look at your registration notice and you see in small print that the testing locations have changed. Now there are 200 locations in a seven county area instead of only seven.

How do you find them? Odds are there is probably one within several miles of your home. The easiest way to find the new locations is to go online at www.wivip.com and enter your city name or zip code, and a list of the closest test centers will be generated. Not computer savvy? You can call 1-866-OBD-TEST and they will direct you to the nearest center.

Now here is the important part

If you pass no problem, renew your registration and you are set.

If you fail, then you need to look at your options closely. You can choose to repair your car or have anyone you want do it for you. If your car is in rough shape and needs a lot of repair, you are required to spend at least $819 to try and correct your emissions problem. If you’ve reached that amount and you still can’t get it to pass, you can apply for a waiver.

Here is where it gets tricky. To receive a waiver the work on your car has to be done by a recognized repair facility. What is a recognized repair facility? It is a shop that has taken the required emissions training and certification showing they are qualified to do emission repair. At www.wivip.com and 1-866-OBD-TEST they have a list of recognized shops.

If your car is in rough shape and needs a lot of repair, you are required to spend at least $819 to try and correct your emissions problem.

If you choose to do the work yourself, that is fine, but it will not count towards a waiver. This means you have to spend whatever it takes to pass emissions before getting your registration.

Our shop is a technical assistance center for the Wisconsin Vehicle Inspection Program (one of five scattered around southeast Wisconsin). We are the only locations that can issue a waiver. We have been seeing a lot of people coming looking for waivers on work they did or work that was done by a non recognized shop. Needless to say, they are a little upset when they find out they don’t qualify.

Another thing to remember is, in order for work to count for a waiver, it must be addressing the issues that are causing the failure. For example, if you have a bad catalytic converter which could cost in excess of $1,500 to repair (on certain vehicles) and you do a tune up and replace an oxygen sensor to get to the $819 required for a waiver, it wouldn’t count because it doesn’t address the weak catalytic converter.

In a case like that, you may have to bite the bullet and replace the converter.

So proceed with caution if repairs are getting expensive. If you are thinking you may qualify for a waiver, make sure the facility doing the repair is recognized. Check the WIVIP website and make sure the shop is listed. Doing your homework up front will save you time, money, and frustration.

Now in closing, don’t shoot the messenger. I didn’t mandate this program. I, like you, have to follow it and help my customers do the same. It does have its benefits.

I wonder how much extra that driver is paying in fuel costs because of their poor running vehicle.

Last week my wife and I were on vacation up in northern Wisconsin. Three times while driving down the road I had to pull over or pass the vehicle in front of me because I couldn’t stand the exhaust smell coming from their tailpipe. I always look when I pass one of these vehicles and the check engine light is always on. Needless to say those vehicles aren’t required to be inspected for emissions compliance.

I wonder how much extra that driver is paying in fuel costs because of their poor running vehicle. Regular maintenance is still the best way to budget and save money on auto repairs. Repairs left undone have a habit of building up and turning into much higher costs to the vehicle owner and are a health and safety hazard to all of us.

Hopefully this helps explain the emissions program a little better to help avoid  problems and keep you running smooth.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Rachel Chiariello December 06, 2012 at 04:05 PM
I've been trying to get my car to pass emissions since October. 2 extensions later and my check engine light is still on. I might as well become a mechanic, because the ones around here sure can't fix the problem. Apparently code p0446 can mean any number of things are wrong. Mechanics expect you to have the money to try them all.
CowDung December 06, 2012 at 04:28 PM
No, Joe. If they spend less than $819, then they are not eligible to apply for a waiver. They must spend at least $819 to be eligible to apply for the waiver. The idea is that there's a limit to what one has to spend trying to fix the problem. if they don't have to spend that much, their problem was fixed and a waiver isn't needed. If they do spend that much (or more), the problem might not be fixable and they need the waiver.
John Haunfelder December 06, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Rachel give me a caqll you have options. Here is my work # 262-542-2600
Nikki Hundt Prohaska February 05, 2013 at 11:06 PM
P0446 Evaporative Emmission Control System Vent Control Circuit OBD-II Trouble Code Technical DescriptionEvaporative Emission Control System Vent Control Circuit Malfunction What does that mean?Evap vent valve has only one purpose. It closes in order to seal the vent so the EVAP system can pressurize and ensure there are no leaks. Evap vent valve is usually supplied Batt. voltage with key on. The ECM's driver controls the ground, and when grounded, activates the valve (closing it). If the ECM detects a short to ground, and open,or a short to battery voltage on the control circuit, P0446 will set. Code also may refer to ECM detecting that EVAP system is unable to achieve or maintain vacuum during test. SymptomsThere will be no obvious symptoms to driver, other than MIL illumination. (MIL= Check Engine Light) on. CausesA code P0446 could mean one or more of the following has happened: Faulty vent valve Open, short or excessive resistance on Vent valve control circuit Blockage of vent valve Bad PCM Possible SolutionsWith a P0446 OBD-II trouble code, here are some things to try: Replace Vent valve Repair open, short, or resistance problem in control circuit Repair open, or short, or resistance problem in power circuit Replace PCM Other EVAP DTCs: P0440 - P0441 - P0442 - P0443 - P0446 - P0453 - P0455 - P0456
Jack April 21, 2013 at 03:57 AM
Does nobody realize that OBD2 is Second Generation as stated earlier? Um what about OBD0 and OBD1 testing. LMAO definitely more to testing than plug and play. Second generation OBD only makes the testing much quicker if functioning properly because testers read data instead of doing the work to produce it, such as you have to do on an OBD0 car. Any idiot who has taken a car to be emissions tested would understand, or anyone with 5 seconds of research. Amazing how people on the Internet are so stupid, and love to say they know everything about everything. However those people prove they know nothing about anything.

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