The time has come for Hamilton County to end emissions testing for cars, and not merely out of convenience for owners. The Chattanooga area was out of attainment status when the program was initiated in 2005 as part of an Early Action Compact among local governments, Tennessee, and the EPA. We came together as a community to impose restrictions on ourselves, albeit begrudgingly, in an effort to meet federal standards for air quality also known as NAAQS. Now we’re not only in attainment status, but the ozone count is near background levels (meaning naturally occurring ozone pollution).
The bottom line is mission accomplished. Despite our geography and topography and three major interstates, we’ve done it. The polluting cars are off the roads, industry has separate regulations, and we are thriving. Keeping the program in place will not make any more difference to the environment. It does however make a difference to those who have to pay just to turn off that little orange light. The costs are not just a $9 testing fee, but hundreds in diagnostic and repair work.
Hopefully our local and state officials will commend constituents for their hard work and understanding over the last 12 years, and finally remove this temporary remedy to a now solved problem.
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The emission testing is, in my opinion, all about revenue and never had anything to do with clean air. No one will ever be able to convince me that this scam perpetrated on the residents of Hamilton County had anything whatsoever to do with cleaning up the air in Chattanooga but rather everything to do with revenue enhancement. They even lowered the fee from $10 to $9 thinking maybe people wouldn't mind that so much.
The only thing it was good for was placing a burden on people who cannot afford to drive newer cars. When your older car won't pass the test you must spend grocery and gas money on mostly unneeded repairs just to pass the test. Or you can call the state mechanic who will not give you advice on what repairs are needed but rather how to cheat the test ala VW before the dreaded check engine light comes back on again. This from personal experience.
I have a classic car built in 1979. Unless I want antique plates which limits how I can drive my car, I must get it smogged every year. It's a 38-year-old car that is driven less than a thousand miles a year but because it came from the factory with a catalytic converter it must pass the sniff test. The only way I can get the car to pass is to drive it onto the test parking lot, open the hood and make adjustments to where the car will hardly run but will probably pass the test. I then limp into the test lane, cross my fingers, limp out, open the hood back up and return everything to how it was. Does this seriously make any sense to anybody? Ridiculous.
And lastly let's not forget all the residents in the surrounding counties who have no emissions testing requirements but drive into Hamilton County for work every day. To say nothing of the countless diesel engine tractor trailers who pass through each day.
Bottom line like so many government money grabs, we were low hanging fruit.
The emissions test scam should have never been implemented in the first place. It's long since time to do away with it completely.
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Chattanooga is the hub for thousands and thousands of cars and trucks that pass through our city each day.
If I thought for one minute, emissions testing was helping to restore clean air to our city I would be all for it.
As it is, its nothing but a do good joke, causing a big inconvenience on the citizens of Hamilton County by wasting their time and money. Just the words "Emissions Testing" sounds too good, and is a Gold Star for the politicians.
If you think its going away, you better think again.
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The emissions testing is easy to comply for those with new vehicles, especially those under warranty. The sad reality is that it is very taxing on the poor and those with classic cars.
My worst gripe about the whole thing is the inability to sell (actually buy) a vehicle that won't pass, because it has to pass emissions before it can be registered. Worse yet, you can't even get a title without registering a vehicle and you can't get it registered without passing emissions. I have a hard time thinking about buying a classic car that needs love, only to do a few thousand dollars in repair work before I can own in on paper.
I have a 1975, non-catalytic vehicle (they always have to go in the back to look it up when they don't see a cat) that I was told to run E-85 through in conjunction with turning the distributor a few degrees advanced, just when going through emissions so that I can lean it out and pass. I immediately top it off with 100 percent non-ethanol gas to balance it out and reset the timing to good. Another vehicle I own, a VW dirty diesel from the early days, "rolled coal" through emissions, but amazingly still passed their requirements. I was stunned. My daily driver gets the light cleared and sent through after a day and half of driving before I run it through, just before the light comes back on.
Here's a fun one: ask anyone who had the recent VW diesel-gate vehicles what our county testing said to them. It wasn't "These vehicles are polluters and we will not approve them." No, it was closer to, "give us the money and we'll put it through the test that we know it'll cheat on."
The polluters are still out there polluting, but just having to jump through hoops to get there. So, what is it really saving at this point? Certainly not money.
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I have two classic cars that do not require yearly emissions testing. They are registered for life of ownership with some really easy guidelines to follow and I'm even able to use year-specific plates which is a hobby-friendly and forward-thinking provision of our state law. You may educate yourself about this at the Hamilton County Clerk website. If you plan to own and enjoy classic cars you will be well served by taking advantage of this and classic car insurance policies that can also save you money.
I imagine if you have classic cars as I do, you are able to handle the expense of maintaining the daily drivers.