Tailpipe tests are obsolete in Texas, as wave of older cars reaches 25-years-old


AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Next time you go in for an inspection, your old car may save you a few bucks.

Cars made in 1995 or earlier do not need emissions tests. They are grandfathered in to a state law that requires emissions testing for vehicles.

All vehicles made since 1996 have On Board Diagnostic systems, including electronic ports for auto inspectors to plug into, gathering data to send to the state for registration purposes. That diagnostic system allows for the safety and emissions inspections to be a streamlined process.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, vehicle emissions tailpipe tests, such as the Acceleration Simulation Mode (ASM) and Two-Speed Idle (TSI) tests, will no longer be required.

“We used to take a probe of the exhaust and run the car at specific speeds,” auto mechanic Rio Mursinna said. “We would have to idle it sitting in a smokey bay with vehicle emissions, idling it, revving it two thousand or three thousand RPM for maybe 90 seconds.”

“That test is now defunct,” Mursinna said. “Old vehicles bypass emissions and all new vehicles are wholly electronic.”

All vehicles which are model 1996 and newer will continue to receive on-board diagnostics inspections in addition to the required safety inspections.

The Texas DPS website states the older vehicles “are still required to receive an annual safety inspection to meet the registration requirements.” The Department declined a request for interview on safety and emissions inspections.

Counties requiring emissions inspections are: Brazoria, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Montgomery, Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Johnson, Kaufman, Parker, Rockwall, Tarrant, Travis, Williamson and El Paso.

“The older a vehicle gets, the more likely that it’s going to be contributing more pollution,” Adrian Shelley, director of the Texas office for consumer advocacy organization Public Citizen, said. He said the exemptions may seem counter-intuitive.

“As much as a third or even a half of the air pollution can come from vehicles,” Shelley said. “So it’s important that we inspect our vehicles, keep them running clean to reduce air pollution, to improve public health.”

Texas lawmakers approved additional state money last year for clean vehicle programs, boosting the dollars from the $50-$75 million range to $200 million. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality administers that funding.

Additional inspection information is available on the DPS website.

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April 22 2021 09:00 am