Emissions Inspection Program Changes Reviewed

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Some significant changes to the vehicle emissions inspection program took effect in January 2015. For all of those folks whose vehicles didn't require an inspection in 2015, but will in 2016, here are reminders of those changes.

Collectively, the January 2015 changes improved customer convenience for a large number of Coloradans in the program area while continuing to protect air quality.

Among the changes:

  • Extension of the initial model year exemption for newer vehicles from four to seven years. This change reflects improvements in vehicles that allow gasoline-powered engines to start out cleaner and stay cleaner longer.

  • Beginning in the eighth model year and extending through the eleventh model year, the vehicle inspection process will include an inspection of the On-Board Diagnostics (OBD and OBDII) systems. Instead of being tested on the dynamometer (the “treadmill” test), vehicles will be “plugged in” to read the codes in their on-board computers.
    This means if your “Check Engine” light is on, you will not pass the inspection. Don’t ignore it, get it checked!

  • Hybrid vehicles, beginning in the eighth model year, require an OBD inspection. 

  • Two all-wheel drive lanes at every station (except tiny Castle Rock). 
  • Testing to accomodate over and under-sized tires at three emissions inspection stations, Sheridan, Ken Caryl and Ft. Collins.
  • Credit cards are now accepted at all stations!

Find out about all of the changes at https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/emissions-testing-changes-2015

PUT A CAP ON OZONE - A Way to Help Us All Breathe Easier

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2015 Put a Cap on Ozone program runs from

June to August 2015

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The Front Range’s recent string of Action Days for Ozone pollution are a reminder of the importance of reducing emissions from motor vehicles. This summer, Denver-metropolitan and North Front Range area motorists whose vehicles are found to have faulty or missing gas caps during an emissions inspection are receiving coupons good toward the purchase of new caps at participating NAPA Auto Parts stores. 

The Problem

Ozone pollution occurs primarily in the hot summer months when emissions from a variety of sources, including industry, automobiles and smaller, gas-powered engines, chemically react in the presence of sunshine to form a harmful ground-level pollutant. Not to be confused with upper atmosphere ozone which provides protection from ultra-violet rays, ground-level ozone is harmful to the health of all humans, particularly the elderly, the very young and those with respiratory disease.

A Solution

Because ground-level ozone pollution is generated by so many different sources, there is no single solution to its prevention. However, it has been determined that one, relatively simple action can have an immediate and significant impact.  Studies show that the reduction of emissions from faulty or missing automobile gas caps can bring about a meaningful reduction in the region’s ozone readings. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Regional Air Quality Council, Envirotest Corp. and NAPA Auto Parts have joined forces to implement a program that replaces faulty gas caps with new gas caps during the height of the summer months.

Coupons, for $10 toward the purchase of a new gas cap at any participating NAPA store, will be given after a vehicle fails the gas cap portion of the emissions inspection at an Air Care Colorado station; the average retail price of a new gas cap is $10 – more for specialty caps. There are more than 30 participating NAPA stores along the Front Range, with at least one shop nearby each Air Care emissions inspection station.


The Savings

In a typical month, more than 2,500 vehicles fail the gas cap portion of their emissions inspection at Air Care Colorado stations. The “Put a Cap on Ozone” program aims to aid in replacing up to 5,000 gas caps by August 31, which could amount to savings of up to:

  • 1.25 tons per day of volatile organic compounds (VOC) – a type of pollution that can contribute to ground-level ozone formation
  • 22,000 gallons of gasoline lost due to evaporation during hot summer months
  • $57,000.00 - the cost of 22,000 gallons of evaporated gasoline


The Details

  • Between now and August 31 the driver of any vehicle that fails the Colorado emissions test due to a faulty or missing gas cap will be provided with a coupon redeemable for a new gas cap at participating NAPA Auto Parts stores.
  • Gas cap coupons will be provided at the 18 Air Care Colorado Testing Stations in the metro Denver and North Front Range areas.
  • Following gas cap replacement, vehicles will be required to repeat the emissions testing procedure.


For more information on the gas cap program, call the Air Care Colorado Hotline at 303-456-7090 or visit www.aircarecolorado.com.


For more information on solving the ozone problem, call the Regional Air Quality Council at 303-629-5450, or visit www.raqc.org.

Is your vehicle "READY" for its Air Care inspection? "Readiness Monitors" Explained

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What is a “Readiness Monitor"?

Most light-duty 1998-and-newer model year vehicles are equipped with an electronic emission control monitoring system known as On-Board Diagnostic (OBD). This system continuously monitors, tracks and stores information about the emission control devices and emission-related engine components on a vehicle. These self checks are referred to as "Readiness Monitors."

Most vehicles have between seven and 11 monitors, or self checks, that the computer system performs. The computer looks for specific speeds, temperatures, levels, and pressures from various sensors. When the vehicle’s computer receives the a signal from a particular sensor, it runs the readiness monitor check. Once the vehicle’s computer completes the check of a monitor, the readiness system status is set to “Complete” or “Ready." If the vehicle has not completed the self check, the status is reported by the computer as “Not Complete” or “Not Ready."

When a vehicle's emissions are inspected at an Air Care Colorado emissions inspection station, the vehicle's readiness monitors must be set to "Ready."

What causes a vehicle to be “Not Ready”?

Unset readiness monitors do not necessarily mean that anything is wrong with the vehicle. It simply means that the vehicle has not had a chance to complete all of its self checks to confirm that the vehicle is operating properly. There are several reasons why a vehicle may be “Not Ready." The most common are:

  • Recent vehicle repairs or maintenance in which diagnostic trouble codes have been cleared with an OBD scan tool
  • A recently disconnected or replaced battery
  • Pending problem that has not yet illuminated the "Check Engine" or Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL)

What happens if a vehicle is presented for an inspection and it is "Not Ready"?

If monitors are not "Ready," it is impossible to know if a vehicle is operating properly because the self checks have not been completed.

Vehicles between eight and 11 model years old require an OBD inspection. If a vehicle computer displays "Not Ready" codes during its initial inspection, the vehicle will either:

  • Automatically be inspected with an alternate I/M 240 dynamometer test, or;
  • If the vehicle cannot be tested on a dynamometer, due to size or other restrictions, it will be rejected from testing and sent away until more driving is completed and the monitors are set to "Ready."

If a vehicle returns for a reinspection, after a failed test, and the Readiness Monitors are set to "Not Ready," the vehicle will be sent away until more driving can be completed and the monitors are set to "Ready."

How does a vehicle become "Ready"?

Vehicles perform self checks during normal courses of driving. Vehicle drive cycles differ, but generally driving for a week, give or take a few days, should be sufficient for the computer to conduct all of the necessary self checks. However, to be certain, contact your dealership or repair shop to determine the manufacture's specific drive cycle for your vehicle.