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.