Emission Inspections and Air Quality

Feb 15, 2019 -- Posted by : admin

A view of the sky in 1972 showing how cars are one of the biggest contributors to ground level ozone on the front ranage next to a picure in 2018, showing how the air quality has improved.

Did you know that auto emissions inspections have been an integral part of Colorado’s efforts to protect and enhance air quality in our state for nearly 40 years?

Emissions inspections were first introduced into several Colorado communities with air pollution concerns back in 1981. In those days, a two-speed idle test was the primary component of the inspection. That test involved a probe inserted into a vehicle’s tailpipe to collect emissions data. The two-speed idle test still is used in the current program for 1981-and-older vehicles.

Hundreds of Independent, state-licensed inspection centers (often gas stations and auto repair shops) provided inspection services. However, when Colorado introduced the more comprehensive “enhanced” inspection in 1995 in the Denver-metro area (this inspection was expanded to include parts of the North Front Range in 2010), it was centralized to a dozen Air Care Colorado inspection centers at convenient locations throughout the region.

Envirotest Systems Corporation (ESP for short) has operated the centralized Air Care Colorado inspection centers under a series of contracts with the state of Colorado since the beginning of the enhanced inspection. There are now 18 locations in the Denver-metro area and North Front Range.

Originally, the enhanced inspection featured a four-minute test that gathered emissions data from a vehicle under a variety of simulated driving conditions. Over the years, it has changed to keep up with the times. Improved vehicle technology, better vehicle engineering and design, and a continual commitment to customer convenience have all led to changes.

On-board diagnostic evaluations, gas cap integrity checks, an increase in the years before a vehicle must be inspected (from four to seven years) and the RapidScreen roadside component all have been introduced to supplement the enhanced inspection since 1995.

One thing that has remained nearly unchanged is the enhanced inspection fee. Originally $24.25, the fee was increased to $25 in 2003. That remains the only increase since 1995 and is one of the most inexpensive fees nationwide (and it’s only every two years)!

Currently, the Denver-metro area and parts of the North Front Range are the only areas in which an emissions inspection is required. In 2017 alone, more than a million vehicles were inspected, and subsequent repairs saved more than 1.5 million gallons of gasoline. Carbon monoxide pollution reductions were calculated at 118 tons per day, with hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide reductions reaching nine tons per day each!

Auto emissions inspections continue to protect and enhance air quality in Colorado, day-by-day and year-by-year! It’s something we all share and can take pride in! Well done, Colorado!