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Question about inspection for older cars

Big Beat

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I'm currently in a bit of a runaround to get my '79 Chevy inspected here in New York. Three of the shops I stopped by were all smiles and "sure, we can do the inspection for you today", until they came out and saw the car is an older one. Then all of a sudden it was "uh... sorry, our machine is broken".

After I got fed up with getting the same excuse everywhere I went, I asked the fourth guy point blank what the deal was. He reluctantly explained that all cars made prior to 1995 need a special test on a dynamometer machine, which is very expensive and fickle, and which every station tries to avoid using if they can help it. It is simply not worth their hassle for a busy shop to do inspections for the odd old car.

Now I am totally confused. I thought that cars over 25 years old are totally exempt from the emissions part of the inspection anyway. So my '79 wouldn't even need to use their precious dynamometer, and it should have been just be a simple, quick safety inspection at any shop I went to. But apparently if not one of four different repair shops thought of this, maybe I'm wrong to assume so? Does anyone here who has recently had an old car inspected in NY know what the deal is?

Just in case, the car is in excellent condition and I cannot see any reason why it wouldn't pass inspection with flying colors... if only I can find a shop to inspect it at!

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Guest pfloro

Hello Big Beat:

The following was pasted directly from: DMV.ORG


Emissions Inspections

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, "In many urban areas, motor vehicles are the single largest source of ground-level ozone, a major component of smog." In fact, the agency warns, "Automobile emissions alone account for about 60 percent of pollution in our cities."

Strict emissions standards are in place to reduce this pollution and comply with the Federal Clean Air Act, and annual vehicle inspections for gasoline-powered vehicles identify those that don't comply so that they may be repaired before becoming gross polluters.

<span style="font-style: italic"><span style="font-weight: bold">Some vehicles are exempt from emissions inspections: vehicles one model year old or newer, vehicles at least 26 model years old, vehicles with vintage or historic plates, electric vehicles, motorcycles, farm equipment, homemade or custom vehicles in the upstate area, and diesel vehicles weighing 8,500 pounds or less.</span></span>

New York recently implemented an updated vehicle inspection program. New equipment monitors the on-board diagnostic system of vehicles with a model year of 1996 and newer, transmitting the results to the DMV.

As part of this inspection, all vehicles will undergo a gas cap check, a visual inspection of the emission control devices, and a test of the chemical components of the vehicle's exhaust. This last test is more comprehensive in the New York metropolitan area, where it is referred to as the "high enhanced" emissions inspection. Outlying counties conduct the "low enhanced" emissions inspection. No matter where you live, the following emission-control devices will be examined if they were originally built into the car:

Positive crankcase ventilation system

Catalytic converter

Fuel inlet restrictor

Exhaust gas recirculation valve

Thermostatic air cleaner

Air injection system

Evaporative emission control


The privately owned inspection stations should know this...

Good Luck,


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thanks. I checked the DMV site too, and as you quote, a '79 should be old enough to be exempt. What's strange is that out of the four shops I went to, ALL FOUR didn't know this. That's what confused me and made me think there's some new law or something that I wasn't aware of. Strange.

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This old car inspection rule is a bit more convoluted than that too. My 56 gets the normal safety inspection. $10.00. The 69 GS gets a bit more due to some of those added parts and of course the 06 gets the royal treatment for $21.00 in the Schenectady area. If you are in the area around NYC you will definitely have a different set of standards but your 79 should just be getting a visual inspection of the safety items plus the factory installed emission items which means it has to have a catylitic converter, and your air pump ( if you have one) should be hooked up and working)unless you have historical plates on the car.

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