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Drive clean for earth month and beyond.

Matthew Guy April 12, 2018
A SUV driving through rural roads, the vehicle is blurred and appear to be in motion.
Vehicles are said to be the single largest domestic source of smog-causing emissions in Ontario. April is Earth Month, so it’s a great time to talk about minimizing the pollutants from your car’s tail pipe.

Drive clean.

As part of an effort to reduce toxic air pollutants and protect our environment, the government of Ontario introduced the Drive Clean program in 1999. Drive Clean reduces smog-causing pollutants by requiring polluting vehicles to be repaired.

Do I need one?

In Ontario, light-duty vehicles (cars, vans, SUVs, and pickups) that are seven years of age and older require a Drive Clean test. If you’re the type of person who trades in their vehicle every four or five years, chances are you’ll never see the inside of a Drive Clean testing station.

Light-duty machines with a model year before 1988 are exempt, as are electric and most hybrid-electric vehicles. Examples of vehicles which get a free pass include:
  • Tesla Model S
  • Chevrolet Bolt
  • motorcycles
  • your grandfather’s 1984 Buick LeSabre
Close up of a car exhaust pipe, with fumes forming a question mark.

How often is testing required?

Since most late-model vehicles sold by dealerships are almost new and likely still under warranty, performing emissions tests on them is a waste of time for both mechanics and consumers.

This is why only light-duty vehicles seven years of age or older (aside from the exemptions mentioned above) need testing every couple of years when new registration stickers are due for its license plate.

Insider tip.

Interestingly, the government makes the test results public information. A person can search for a vehicle’s test history by simply knowing its Vehicle Identification Number. This is handy if one is purchasing a used car since the government does not require a car to have a valid Drive Clean certificate when it’s sold to a new owner.

How is my car tested?

Before performing the test, an inspector will do a visual pre-check of important emissions equipment on your vehicle, such as making sure the gas cap is screwed on tightly and the car’s exhaust catalytic converter is present. For most cars, the technician will then attach an electronic reader to the vehicle’s computerized diagnostic port and run the test.

What can I do to prepare?

Most modern vehicles in good repair will pass the test without any special preparation. However, it doesn’t hurt to ensure your fuel tank is neither completely full or empty, as those conditions may cause the car’s computer to produce a funky reading during the test.

Ensuring the vehicle’s engine is at operating temperature before handing the keys to a Drive Clean technician doesn’t hurt either. Why? Most engines, when cold, are allowed by the car’s computer to run a bit less efficiently until enough heat is generated for smooth running.

How do I make an appointment?

CAA has you covered with a quick and easy booking service for Drive Clean tests. With just a few clicks, drivers can quickly select a date and time in which to get their car Drive Clean certified for FREE at a participating CAA Approved Auto Repair Service (AARS) facility.
Every auto repair facility in the AARS program must meet stringent CAA requirements for quality service at fair prices. CAA’s AARS facilities offer Member-exclusive benefits such as 3% in CAA Dollars® on all repairs and a guaranteed one-year/20000-kilometre warranty on parts and labour.
+ Terms & Conditions
To earn and redeem CAA Dollars, you must be a current CAA Member in good standing (CAA Membership dues paid in full by membership expiry date). CAA Dollars cannot be converted into currency at any time, and cannot be used to purchase CAA Premium Batteries, or to pay any amounts owing on your CAA Rewards MasterCard. Do not let your membership lapse or you will forfeit any accumulated CAA Dollars. Your CAA Dollars will be automatically redeemed towards your CAA Membership renewal dues.