December 13, 1999
Legislation passed in 1998 exempts vehicles less than five and more than 25 model-years old from having emission inspections, starting in 2000. Until then, the program applies to 1968-and-newer gasoline and diesel vehicles. Department of Ecology (ecology) statistics show that newer vehicles rarely violate emissions standards, while older ones often cannot be repaired at a reasonable cost.
Urban parts of Clark, King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Spokane counties have the emission-check program. In 2000, 1976 through 1996 vehicles will need inspections. (Parts of Clark County already have this exemption under a pilot program.) Vehicles manufactured in even-numbered years are tested in even years; odd-model-year vehicles get their tests in odd years.
While the new exemption will reduce the number of vehicles being tested, many of the fixed cost of the privately-run testing facilities remain. Under a contract extension between Ecology and Envirotest Systems, Inc., which owns and operates emission check stations, some operating costs will be trimmed by reducing business hours from 52 hours a week down to 40. The new Emission Check station hours will be Tuesday through Saturday, 9am-5pm.
The current $12 inspection will increase to $15 on Dec. 31, 1999. By state law, the emission-check program must be funded solely through the inspection fee. Even at the higher rate, Washington will have the nation's lowest emission-test fee.