Ontario to smoke-test heavy trucks starting in September

TORONTO (April 26 — Ontario will begin testing heavy-duty diesel trucks and buses in September under the province’s Drive Clean initiative.

Annual testing will apply to heavy-duty vehicles with a registered gross weight of 4500 kilograms or more, registered in Ontario, and more than three model-years old, beginning with those whose registrations must be renewed on or after Sept. 30, 1999.

There is no maximum age for vehicles covered by the program, unlike the Drive Clean provisions for cars and light-duty trucks and vans where the maximum age is 19 model years.

If a vehicle fails, it must be repaired to Ontario standards and re-tested.

“Within one year, every diesel truck and bus registered in Ontario and more than three years old will have been tested,” said Environment Minister Norm Sterling. “Without a successful emissions test, their annual registrations will not be renewed.”

The inspections must be conducted at an accredited Drive Clean heavy-duty vehicle facility or a mobile unit, the first of which are expected to open in June, Sterling said.

To be accredited, garages and vehicle service facilities will be required to install approved testing equipment and meet training standards for both emissions inspectors and repair technicians. Accredited testing and repair facilities will be allowed to set their own fees for the tests. There will not be a cost limit set for emissions tests or repairs.

About 2000 service facilities will be contacted and asked to send in an “expression of interest,” said Sterling.

Trucks will be administered exhaust opacity tests, which measure the density of vehicle emissions. The tests will use the Society of Automotive Engineer’s Standard “Snap Acceleration Smoke Test Procedure for Heavy-Duty Diesel-Powered Vehicles (SAE J-1667).” The opacity standard for 1991 and newer models is 40% or less. For 1990 and older models, the standard is 55% or less.

Mandatory testing is the second phase of enforcement of emissions standards. Ontario’s Smog Patrol is an on-road enforcement program targeted at grossly-polluting vehicles — those emitting thick and visible smoke from their exhaust systems — on Ontario’s streets and highways, regardless of where the vehicle is from.

The Smog Patrol now has nine full-time enforcement officers to identify and ticket the worst-polluting vehicles with visible smoke emissions.

Between April 1 and April 16 of this year, the Smog Patrol has already stopped more than 400 vehicles and issued 43 tickets, Sterling said. Last year, the Smog Patrol inspected a total of 700 vehicles, tested the emissions of 270 and issued 130 tickets which carry a fine of up to $425. Fines collected last year totaled $26,000.

If prosecuted under the Provincial Offences Act, owners or drivers could face fines up to $50,000 while corporations can face fines up to $200,000.

In addition to province-wide testing for diesel trucks and buses, testing of non-diesel trucks and buses will begin in the GTA and Hamilton-Wentworth Region in September. Starting in 2001, testing for non-diesel trucks and buses will be required in 13 other urban areas, between Peterborough and Windsor, the same area as the testing for light-duty cars, vans and light trucks.

Non-diesel heavy-duty vehicles (powered by gasoline, propane, or natural gas) registered in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton-Wentworth Region. In 2001, emissions testing for non-diesel heavy duty vehicles will be expanded to 13 other urban centres, from Peterborough to Windsor. The program area for these vehicles will coincide with the program area for cars and light vehicles.

Non-diesel powered vehicles will undergo a two-speed idle test where emissions are measured at two pre-determined RPM settings.

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