The truth about auto emissions testing
Lindsey Morone & Jermont Terry
Photo: Video by tmj4.com
MILWAUKEE - There are worries about being ripped off when taking your car in to get its auto emissions test. The state recently switched to a private testing system. Meaning, instead of taking your car to a state run facility, you now take it to an approved, private mechanic. The test is mandatory. Your car either passes or fails. However, if the car fails, you must get your car fixed and that can be costly. That fear has many drivers wondering what is stopping mechanics from failing your car on purpose?
"I'm sure that some people would take advantage of that type of thing," says one Milwaukee area driver.
The change to the auto emissions testing system was a big one. The change eliminated state run testing posts across the state. There are now more than 200 state approved auto shops that can run the mandatory test. The I-team went through the numbers, looking at the pass fail rate of cars since the change. It then, equipped with its hidden cam, took its car to the shops with the highest fail rate. It took the same car to different locations, all in the same day. The shops that statistically were more likely to fail the car, "passed" the car each time.
The I-Team then took its car in once more, this time, without its hidden cam, and asked to see what happens inside the garage. Mechanics at National Complete Auto Care in Waukesha says they have no choice but to do the test by the book. In order for the mechanic to operate the machine that runs the emissions test, they must first have their fingerprint scanned. Each mechanic must be approved and certified. If their fingerprint does not match, the machine does not work. The mechanics are also watched by two cameras that provide a live video feed to Systech International, the company contracted by the state to run the tests. Mechanics are not allowed to pop the hood of your car, only hook the computer up to a plug located underneath the steering wheel.
"They know everything. I mean they just watched you guys video tape me," explained Nick Chupp the Shop Manager at National Complete Auto Care as he ran an emissions test on TODAY'S TMJ4's car.
Systech also visits each approved auto shop about once every two weeks. The routine checks seem to be working. Since the new system went into place, the failure rate is actually down. The I-Team also checked with the Better Business Bureau about this issue. So far, the BBB has received very few complaints.