Emissions Testing Program

Emission Control


A program designed to periodically check vehicle emissions to ensure they are within limits. Often referred to as an I/M (Inspection/Maintenance) program, they are used in numerous provinces to improve air quality in those areas.

The Ontario Drive Clean program has undergone several changes since its introduction in 1999. In 2003, standards for light-duty vehicles were tightened to require 11.5% lower vehicle emissions than the most stringent American EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) recommended standards. In November 2005, changes were announced to the Drive Clean program. Standards were tightened by a further 11.4%. Newer vehicles, which have a very high pass rate due to better emission control technology off the assembly line, were exempted from the program until they are five years old. At the other end of the age spectrum, the exemption for vehicles 20 years old and older was phased out. Vehicles built in 1988 and afterwards would have “fallen out” of the program after 19 years (for instance, a 1988 vehicle would no longer need testing after 2007). As a result of this change, such vehicles must continue to be tested every two years as long as they are on the road. Vehicles built in 1987 or before have now left the program permanently.

In June 2013, the modernized Drive Clean program was announced. This program was implemented by January 1, 2013, and intended to provide significant benefits by implementing OBD2 testing.


I/M programs evaluate the emissions from vehicles and single out those that are polluting beyond the limits established for certain model years of vehicles. Aside from identifying vehicles with high emissions, such programs advocate proper maintenance to prevent high emissions due to maintenance neglect.

Maintenance Tips/Suggestions

The best way to keep your vehicle environmentally friendly is by performing regularly scheduled maintenance, rather than waiting to correct a problem after your car fails an emissions test. If the SERVICE ENGINE SOON or CHECK ENGINE light appears, have it checked out immediately by a professional technician. Neglecting these warning signs can cause lead to more extensive and expensive repairs.

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