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New emission rules now in place in Blair County

Blair County is among the counties now subject to a state emissions inspection program that will cost a car owner an additional fee.
The new rules went into effect on Sunday and will require a certified mechanics test on seals on gas tank caps and a check for possible tampering on six different environmental components. Vehicles will have to pass the new test before the regular state inspection.
A survey of local service and repair stations listed as on a state web site indicated all were ready to go with the emissions inspections although some had not conducted any yet. Prices ranged from $30 to $37 with slightly lower charges to receive a sticker if the individual’s vehicle is exempt from the testing. Generally those charges were about five dollars less than the actual inspection.
Motorists are able to use an inspection station of their choosing for the new emissions program and could have the inspection done in other parts of Blair County or another county altogether.
According to the www.drivecleanpa.state.pa.us website the emissions inspection program was developed by the Departments of Transportation and Environmental Protection with input from the public and various representatives of the auto industry.
Last year, the two agencies announced an agreement to settle several pending lawsuits over Pennsylvania\’s program for automobile emissions testing. The changes called for in the agreement were designed to bring the state\’s emissions testing program into compliance with federal air quality standards while having a minimal effect on most of the state\’s drivers.
Different areas are required to have different levels of testing, Blair County is not subject to “on-board diagnostic systems” tests or tailpipe testing while areas in the larger Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and south central regions of the state are subject to it.
Those areas affected by the new testing program will have inspection stations relying heavily on the “on-board diagnostic” (OBD) systems present in cars manufactured since 1996. The technology allows a technician to attach a cable to a car\’s on-board computer and download information that helps them diagnose common engine problems that lead to increased pollution.
In a recent press release, PENNDOT clarified that although some areas are seeing the new regulations going into effect this week not all motorists will be required to have the testing done on their vehicles.
“Not all vehicles will be required to pass an emissions inspection this month because expirations of safety inspections are spread out over a 12-month period,” said Kurt Myers, PENNDOT\’s Director of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. “For example, motorists can get a vehicle inspected up to three months prior to the expiration of a safety inspection, and many customers may have already taken their vehicle for its safety inspection prior to the beginning of this month. In that case, those vehicles won\’t need an emissions inspection until the current safety inspection expires.”
Exemptions are determined by a certified emissions inspector. Vehicles are excluded from the program if the vehicle is registered as a street rod, classic, collectible, antique or specially constructed vehicle or motorcycle. Cars driven under five thousand miles a year are also exempt.
Drivers will receive a computer-generated report that lists inspection results. A computer-generated report for a vehicle that fails will also include information regarding the cause of the failure. Passing vehicles will receive an emissions sticker to be affixed to the windshield.
If a vehicle doesn\’t pass the emissions inspection, the vehicle owner must make emissions-related repairs. Once repairs are made, the vehicle can be re-inspected for free, within 30 calendar days, at the station that initially conducted the inspection. If an owner waits longer than 30 days, or takes the vehicle to a different emissions inspection station, re-inspection is not free. If the vehicle doesn\’t pass the re-inspection, in most cases the owner can get a one-year waiver if a minimum of $150 on emissions-related repairs has been spent. In some cases, the vehicle owner may be required to spend more if the needed repair is the only repair that corrects the problem.
For a comprehensive list of certified emissions inspection stations and their fees you can visit the following Web site: www.drivecleanpa.state.pa.us or call 1-800-265-0921.
In Blair County, the gas cap and visual inspection are required on 1975 and newer vehicles.