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I. Ontario's Drive Clean program

Vehicles powered by gasoline and diesel give off air pollutants and gases such as oxides of carbon, nitrogen and sulphur, hydrocarbons and soot. These pollutants affect the quality of the air we breathe, our health, crop yields and even the global climate.

Hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen react in sunlight to form ground-level ozone, better known as smog. Smog is a major health hazard responsible for respiratory ailments and other illnesses.

Oxides of sulphur and nitrogen combine with water vapour to form acid rain, which damages our lakes, forests and crops.

Global warming is the result of too much carbon dioxide and other gases trapping heat in our atmosphere. Global warming could cause average temperatures to rise, causing droughts, crop failures, lower water levels and more frequent and severe storms.

Vehicles are the single, largest domestic source of smog-causing emissions in Ontario. Drive Clean, administered by the Ministry of the Environment, reduces smog-causing pollutants by identifying grossly polluting vehicles and requiring them to be repaired.

If you own a light-duty vehicle in the Drive Clean Program area (southern Ontario from Windsor to Ottawa) that is five years old or older and is a 1988 or newer model, you must take your vehicle for a Drive Clean test every two years in order to renew its registration. Light- duty vehicles manufactured before the 1988 model year are exempt from Drive Clean emissions-test requirements. If you are buying a used vehicle that is older than the current model year and is a 1988 or newer model, the vehicle must pass a Drive Clean test to transfer the own­ership and plate it for the road.

Ontario requires all diesel-powered, heavy-duty trucks and buses province-wide to pass an annual Drive Clean emissions test. All non-diesel, heavy-duty vehicles require annual tests if they are regis­tered in the designated Drive Clean light-duty vehicle program area.

You don’t have to wait for a Drive Clean test to do something positive for the environment. Keeping your vehicle well maintained according to the manufacturer’s recommended service schedules is an important part of driving clean. For example, if the “check engine” or “service engine” lights come on, have your engine looked at by a qualified repair technician as soon as possible. Otherwise, you could face costly repairs to the vehicle’s engine or emissions-control system.

Please note that the act of creating, distributing or using false Drive Clean passes is an offence under the Environmental Protection Act. Emissions inspectors who do so can be decertified; vehicle owners will be charged.

For more information on Ontario’s Drive Clean program, visit or call the Drive Clean Call Centre toll-free at 1-888-758-2999.