Ontario's Ministry of the the Environment and Climate Change has followed through on a promise to eliminate the fee for required emissions testing on light-duty vehicles more than seven years old, and has also cut the requirement to test a car any time it is re-sold or registered by a new owner.
As of April 1, the Drive Clean emissions test will be free when renewing your vehicle's registration and licence plate tags, but if you choose to have the car tested outside of the bi-annual test schedule you will have to pay the old $30 fee to have it done. And if your car fails its regularly scheduled test, you'll also have to pay for a re-test after having necessary repairs made.
The province has also cut the requirement for an emissions test any time a car is re-sold or transferred to a new owner. Instead, the buyer will simply have the car tested at its next scheduled bi-annual check.
Because this means a used car will no longer automatically come with assurance of a properly-functioning emissions control system, the province recommends checking the vehicle's history, via its VIN, on the Drive Clean website to see when it last passed an emissions test. Naturally, a buyer can ask the seller to have it tested as a condition of the sale, but that test will not be free.
Ontario's rule re-write also brings changes to Drive Clean's conditional pass rule, which allows a driver to renew their registration following a failed test by making up to $450 in repairs, even if the total cost for a full repair is estimated at more than that amount.
Under the new regs, you won't be able to renew based on a conditional pass two tests in a row: if your car doesn't pass the subsequent test, you'll be on the hook for the full repair amount before you can put your car back on the road. On the upside, that $450 cap no longer includes the diagnostic fee, so the entire amount goes toward the repair itself.
Unchanged is the list of light-duty vehicles exempt from emissions testing, which includes electric cars, most hybrids, all cars built before 1988, cars and trucks plated as historic or light-duty commercial farm vehicles, kit cars and motorcycles.