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Car maintenance tips

Did I just pay for an e-test I didn’t need?

Published October 29, 2013
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Q: I have a 2004 Pontiac Sunfire.  According to Drive Clean, it’s due for an emissions test this year (2013), so I had it done earlier.  It passed.

However, when I received my sticker renewal notice, it didn’t state that I needed this e-test. I recall the same thing happened in 2011, as I had the test done prior to receiving the notice then too. When the renewal notice did arrive, it didn’t have an asterisk indicating a Drive Clean test was necessary.

Did I pay for an e-test unnecessarily, not once, but twice?

In neither case did MTO ask for my e-test pass when buying the plate renewal sticker.

A: Ontario Transportation Ministry spokesperson Bob Nichols replies:

The Ministry mails Vehicle Licence Plate Renewal notices (VLRA) approximately 90 days prior to licence plate expiry date as a courtesy reminder.  When a vehicle has passed a Drive Clean emissions test, the results are electronically filed to be used when the vehicle owner renews their licence plates.  Drive Clean emissions test results are valid for one year from the date of the test.  A vehicle which had a test completed in advance of receiving the VLRA would not have an asterisk indicated on the renewal form.  Therefore, the ministry’s system would not request an emissions test if a valid emissions test result is available at renewal time.

Vehicle owners are also able to verify if a Drive Clean test is required for a renewal by visiting the Drive Clean website under the Ministry of the Environment or contacting them directly at 1-888-758-2999.  The website has an enquiry tool where owners are able to obtain the vehicle’s emissions test history based on the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of the vehicle.

Eric Lai adds:

Basically, MTO won’t indicate a Drive Clean test is necessary for sticker renewal if a valid e-test pass is already on file.

An e-test is required after vehicles are seven years old.  A resale vehicle older than the current calendar year also requires an e-test.  Hybrids are exempt from testing.

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