Inspection Tips for Light-duty Vehicles

Which kinds of light-duty vehicles need a Drive Clean test?

Once a light-duty vehicle is 7 years old, the Province of Ontario requires a Drive Clean test every 2 years. You'll receive a notice from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) to notify you of the due date for your emissions test when you receive your registration renewal documents.

A Drive Clean test is also required when a vehicle is sold if it is older than the current model year, or when you relocate from another province to make Ontario your permanent residence.

Light-duty vehicles include:

  • Cars
  • Vans
  • SUVs
  • Pickup and light trucks less than 4,500 kg
  • Motorhomes and RVs less than 4,500 kg
  • Most "hot rods" (see the Drive Clean hot rod rules for details)

Note that buses, large trucks and motorhomes over 4,500 kg still require a test, but must be tested every year after they reach 7 years old. Visit our Tips for Heavy-duty Vehicles for more details.

Which kinds of light-duty vehicles are exempt from an emissions test?

Certain kinds of light-duty vehicles do not need to undergo the bi-annual emissions test, including:

  • Motorcycles
  • Model years before 1988 (although you can still be ticketed for excessive exhaust smoke or a lack of emission control equipment)
  • Most hybrid electric vehicles
  • Commercial farm plated vehicles

If you're not sure if your vehicle is exempt, check our Links page to look up your vehicle's history and status.

Tips for newer model-year vehicles:

Vehicles model-year 1998 and newer undergo a scan of the On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) system to help determine if the vehicle's emission control systems are operating properly. The passing criteria set by the MTO (Ontario Ministry of Transportation) combines data from the OBD with a visual inspection.

The following tips will help your vehicle pass its inspection, and at the same time help the environment!

  • Regular maintenance
    Change your oil and filters as recommended by your vehicle's manufacturer (usually every 3 months or 5,000 kilometers) to help your vehicle operate efficiently and increase its odds of passing the emission test. It is also important to use the type of oil and fuel recommended by the manufacturer for best performance.
  • Watch for leaks
    Low fluid levels can affect the efficiency and performance of your vehicle, which can cause a test failure.
  • Gas cap required
    Province regulations require that your gas cap is in place and is of the correct type for your vehicle to avoid excess evaporative emissions.
  • Watch for warning lights
    The same "On Board Diagnostics" system in your vehicle that triggers the warning light is the same system that reports its information to our inspection station's analyzer determining if your vehicle meets test requirements, so if your vehicle's computer is triggering a "Check Engine" light, it may not pass the emission test.
  • New or disconnected battery?
    If your battery is disconnected, or if it died and needed a jump start, your vehicle's computer system resets itself and would fail due to a lack of data even if your vehicle is operating properly. Driving between 100 - 150 kilometers (consult your vehicle's manual for an exact number) before coming in for your emission test will make sure your vehicle has gathered enough information for its test.

Extra tips for older model-year vehicles:

Requirements for model years older than 1998 are a little different, as these older vehicles don't have the computer systems installed to report information about the vehicle's performance.

  • Plan a little extra time
    Older vehicles require a tailpipe test and may take a little longer, usually around 20 minutes from start of the inspection to getting back on the road.
  • Watch for warning signs
    Road-weary vehicles can start to show signs of a faulty emissions system, including difficulty starting or staying running at idle, jumping or shaking at higher speeds, and misfires. Taking your vehicle to a certified repair shop as soon as you notice a worsening trend can catch problems before they escalate into a more major repair or test failure.

Visit a DEKRA Emission & Safety Test Station for more expert advice and a fast, professional vehicle inspection.


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