By Johnny Jackson
With the new year comes new rules for Georgia motorists.
This year, those owning vehicles with model years between 1986 and 2007 are required to meet state emissions-testing standards.
The standards - in accordance with Georgia's Clean Air Force 2010 Enhanced Vehicle Emission Inspection and Maintenance Program -- were first created in 1996, to keep vehicles that disproportionately pollute the air, off the roads.
"One car that doesn't meet the standards can do the damage of 100 cars that do," said Randy Dickerson, president of the Georgia Emissions Testers Association, and chairman of the Department of Natural Resources Industry Advisory Board. "If we don't test them, we can quickly cause the air we breath to become very dirty."
Dickerson said, as the former owner of an emissions-inspection station in Conyers, there tended to be a small percentage of vehicles that failed the tests each year. Vehicles that fail a first test can be re-tested free of charge, he said.
However, those vehicles must be repaired to meet the emissions-testing standards. Vehicles that have undergone the necessary emissions-related repairs, and fail the test a second time, may be eligible for a repair waiver -- after spending at least $788 on repairs.
Dickerson encourages motorists to get their vehicles tested well in advance of their respective registration-renewal dates. He said emissions-test certificates are valid for 12 months, or for the life of the annual vehicle-registration renewal.
The Clean Air Force recommends testing a vehicle at least four to six weeks prior to the registration-renewal date, to allow time for emissions-related repairs, if they become necessary.
Dickerson said motorists can look for signs that their vehicle may need repairing, and may consider long-term vehicle care and regular maintenance to increase their chances of passing the test.
"There may be something wrong with the car that causes it to fail the test," he said. "I would suggest that you keep your car well-maintained -- keep your oil changed, and keep the tire pressure up in your car, so that it runs better."
New vehicle owners have less to worry about in terms of the emissions tests, Dickerson said. Vehicles in model year 2008, and later, are exempt from state emissions testing, because of their low level of emissions. Owners of motorcycles, motor homes, and other vehicles that operate using diesel and alternate fuels are also exempt.
"We are dedicated to providing motorists with the tools necessary to follow Georgia's Clean Air Force program guidelines, empowering drivers to play a role in keeping our air clean," said Cherrise Boone, spokeswoman for the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. "We look forward to helping Georgia breathe easier in 2010, as well as helping metro Atlanta reach record-low emissions."
On the net:
Clean Air Force: www.cleanairforce.com