Andrey Kopelev, owner and licensed automotive technician alongside wife Lana at Right Way Auto Repair & Sales in Hamilton, Ontario, explains how the elimination of Drive Clean has affected the family-owned business
Effective April 1 of 2019, the Ontario provincial government cancelled its two-decades-old Drive Clean emission inspection program, which mandated that all vehicles 7 years and older licensed in the province must submit to a biennial emissions test before being approved for license renewals. The Ford government reasons that vehicle-sourced pollution is a fraction of what it was in 1998 when the program was first introduced and was an unnecessary burden on taxpayers.
However, the cancellation has had an unintended consequence for the province’s auto service industry by removing a mandatory inspection every two years and thereby reducing service and revenue opportunities, which now shops will have to recover in other ways.
Some owners also have safety and environmental concerns for the future without some kind of inspection program in place. – Indie Garage
By Andrey Kopelev Owner and licensed automotive technician,
Right Way Auto Repair & Sales, Hamilton, Ont.
“Right Way Auto Repair & Sales definitely feels the impact of the Drive Clean test elimination as, like many other shops, we invested thousands into the equipment and training required to perform the testing. We also lost a lot of business from people [declining to make] repairs because they failed the test. However, it is not the main concern.
“The mandatory Drive Clean test was nerve-wracking for those who drive regularly and don’t get regular maintenance and repairs done to their car. They would ignore their car’s check-engine light when it came on and continue to drive the car despite it showing signs of a potential fault.
“It was not a secret that if the check-engine light was on, the test would automatically be failed. Therefore, they would have to fix the issue before taking the test. In other words, one way or another, such drivers were forced to maintain and repair their vehicles. Subsequently, there is the concern that fewer people will be compelled to repair vehicles, causing more unsafe, polluting vehicles on the road.
“We have already had cases where vehicle owners declined the fixing of issues with catalytic converters, tune-ups and regular maintenance. For that reason, there must be something in place to hold drivers accountable for keeping their cars up to standards; for example, safety inspections, which include emissions checks.
“For over ten years in the business, Right Way Auto Repair & Sales has built the reputation of being an honest and fair automotive service shop and used car dealership. Thus, we do have many loyal customers.
“Even though the elimination of the Drive Clean program affected us, we are still in business. To adjust to the situation, we increased our marketing and created a new Customer Care program. Various other new services are also on the way.
“Additionally, our staff strive tirelessly to educate our customers that ‘owners of vehicles are still required to make sure their vehicle emissions systems are operating properly,’ which means maintenance and repairs are still necessary.”