Forced Automobile Emissions Testing Review

I’m not a tree-hugger but I’m not completely environmentally unaware either. I mean I used to pour my used oil down the storm drain but now I know better and my used oil now goes in my compost pile. I even celebrate Earth Day each year by putting up a huge Christmas light display of 3000 lights that spells out “Happy Earth Day” on my roof. I like to run that for a week or two from dusk till dawn (thinking globally acting locally! )

But despite my new-found environmental awareness, the one thing I’m still having trouble accepting is the forced emissions testing of my vehicles. Let me explain and perhaps you’ll understand my problem with it.

I live on the outskirts of County “A” and I’m right on the border of County “C”. County “A” has had an emissions testing law in effect for almost 20 years now but because my town is so far off to the edge and borders County “C” which does not have an emissions testing law, we have not had to conform to it.

Two years ago the thumb-suckers running County “C” got on the Al Gore bandwagon and decided that they were going to adopt the same law and that my town would be included in their ordinance. Now every year I have to go get each of my 3 cars emissions tested otherwise they revoke the registration on that car. I can go to any testing station in the whole valley, whether it’s in County “A” or County “C” but if I don’t go to one in County “C” it will cost me $20 more. So of course I’m going to get mine tested in County “C”.

My town is not near anything, so when it got time to get my teenager’s car (a barely running 1997 Chevy Cavalier) tested, I drove it in to the closest testing station in County “C”. This was 22 miles away. I waited in line for 90 minutes with my car and A/C running because it was nearly 100 degrees. (By the way, the testing van was running the whole time with A/C on also). I got tested and failed because my gas cap was cracked. I leave, drive around for another 20 minutes until I found an auto parts store. Paid $20 for a cap, drove 20 minutes back to the testing station and waited in line for another 60 minutes with the A/C going to get retested. I pass, I pay them my $20 and move on. I drive the 22 miles back to my house. Well over 50 miles driven and over 3 hours of non-stop running of my car and A/C later, my car is good to go for another year.

Here’s the kicker. My teenager drives this car to school and back 5 days a week. That’s it. 3 miles round trip and maybe 8 minutes of total travel time per day. To get tested for emissions it actually took over 3 weeks of driving distance and about 4 weeks of driving time to do it. Does this make sense to anyone?

The other problem I have is most of these laws have exclusions if you are economically disadvantaged. If you don’t make enough money you can get a pass and essentially don’t have to get tested at all. Who among us has the cars with the worst emissions? Is it the wealthy or is it most likely the very people who don’t have to get emission tested?

The whole thing ticks me off because it isn’t doing anything to help the environment. And I give a damn about the environment. That’s why I keep all my windows in my house open during the summer in the hopes that my A/C will help cool the planet, just a little bit. See that’s what I do. I care.

Forced Emissions Testing of automobiles gets zero stars from me because it’s stupid.


mcole said...

So this Emission testing is called SMOG test in CA - it has to be done every 2 years at registration renewal time. This has been in place for as long as I can remember, so I am surprised it reached your state only this recently. Obviously your counties A and C are still getting the hang of things since I have never spent more than 30 mins total for a SMOG test :-P

JustJim said...

Well that's because California is on the cutting edge of worthless government programs. Haha.

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