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Emissions testing moves to local shops

July 2, 2012

Good news, Wisconsin motorists: the days of milelong lines at emissions testing centers are likely over.

The less-than-good news: Cars still have to be tested.

After contracting with Envirotest for the past 28 years, SysTech International of Murray, Utah, was awarded the new contract to manage emission testing in the state. Envirotest operated a centralized system, meaning that motorists were required to commute to one of nine testing sites.

The new system went into effect July 2.

SysTech's decentralized system will put testing in the hands of local repair shops, dealerships and quick oil-change shops in the seven counties statewide that require emissions testing.

The test

The emissions test itself will not change and will remain free for motorists. Just as at the old emission- testing stations, motorists will be able to renew their license plates at local repair shops. Cameras will continually monitor the inspections, as was the case at the former testing sites.

"The (testing) facilities were selected for their technical expertise, experience, convenient locations and business reputations," according to the state Department of Transportation (DOT). "All vehicle inspectors employed at these facilities undergo a comprehensive training course and must pass an exam before they can inspect vehicles."

DMV Bureau of Vehicle Services Director Mitchell Warren noted, "This change is good for motorists because emissions testing will be more convenient and good for the state because the new program will cost less to administer."

River Crest Tire and Auto Service, 880 Main St., Mukwonago, is one of the local repair shops that will offer emissions testing. Office Manager Amy Taylor explained that four of the service center's technicians went through training to become certified to run the test. All testing hardware and software is being provided to facilities at no cost from SysTech.

"We wanted to add this service to provide another convenience for our customers," Taylor added.

River Crest signed up to be considered as a host site for the test last year, Taylor said. Repair shops around the state were allowed to make the request, but only certain shops were chosen by SysTech.

In the case of Martin's Automotive Services, W230 S8750 Wynn Drive, Big Bend, SysTech requested it to be an emission testing site, owner Doug Runge said.

Runge said that the process will start much the same way as it always has, with people receiving a card in the mail alerting them that their vehicle needs to be emission tested. Vehicle owners will then need to locate a facility near them that offers emissions testing. A list of locations is also available online at www.wisconsinvip.org/WivipPublic/Pages/TestFacilities.aspx.

Decentralizing the system

Of the 33 states required by the U.S. Clean Air Act to perform emissions testing, 24 use decentralized or hybrid networks such as the one Wisconsin now has.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT), after contracting with Envirotest for the past 28 years, the state is now contracting with SysTech International of Murray, Utah. The contract with SysTech is for about $2.6 million a year for five years. The contract calls for two three-year renewal options, resulting in a savings of nearly $600,000 a year, according to Scott Selbach, DOT supervisor of the vehicle emissions inspection program. As a result of the tests moving to private facilities, 62 people employed by Envirotest have lost their jobs.

According to the DOT, the new vehicle emissions testing program will cost $597,340 less per year than the old centralized program.

According to SysTech's website, its program will feature 200 vehicle test lanes, 1,200 vehicle inspectors and real-time communication of all inspection-related data with all inspection lanes. The company that 750,000 inspections will be performed annually.

What vehicles require a test?

Only vehicles customarily kept in Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Washington and Waukesha counties are required to undergo emissions testing.

Vehicles that must be tested are cars and light trucks model years 1996 and newer with a gross vehicle rating up to 8,500 pounds - not including diesel-powered vehicles - and autos and light trucks model years 2007 and newer with a gross vehicle rating up to 14,000 pounds - including diesel powered vehicles.

Vehicles are also tested after a transfer of ownership, after first registering in Wisconsin, and every other year before renewing registration. Vehicles identified as having tampered emissions equipment or fraudulent vehicle location information must also be tested. The DOT notifies vehicle owners when an emissions test is required at the same time vehicle registration renewal notices are given and when vehicle ownership changes.

For vehicles with license plates expiring in 2012, the following model year vehicles must be tested: 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009.

Where to test

688-Cars.inc, W230 S8895 Clark St., Big Bend, (262) 662-2444

Martin's Automotive Services, W230 S8750 Wynn Drive, Big Bend, (262) 662-5080

River Crest Tire & Auto Service, 880 Main St., Mukwonago, (262) 363-4789

Rivers Edge Oil & Tire, 811 S. Rochester St., Mukwonago, (262) 363-1899

Village Car Care LLC, 447 Bay View Rd., Mukwonago, (262) 363-9450

A list of locations is also available online at www.wisconsinvip.org/

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