What you should know about Ontario’s Drive Clean test

Air pollution is a point of ongoing environmental concern in Canada. Ontario’s air quality is constantly being monitored, and while there is always room for improvement, Ontarians generally enjoy lower levels of air pollution than many other parts of the world. The Drive Clean test was introduced in 1999 to help reduce emissions contributing to that issue. In September of 2018, the provincial government announced its plan to cancel the Drive Clean program.

Take a look below to see how these changes may affect you as a driver.

Am I still required to get my car tested?

You don’t need to get your passenger car tested for emissions as of April 1, 2019, but heavy-duty diesel vehicles over 7 years old still do (but that probably doesn’t apply to you).

For two decades, vehicles over 7 years old had to pass a Drive Clean emissions test with each license plate sticker renewal in order to be considered fit for the road. Drivers were obligated to head to one of their local drive clean test locations, subject their vehicle to an inspection, and receive a sticker confirming that their vehicle had passed.

The Provincial government has declared this test obsolete and defined it as something that ‘outlived its purpose,’ citing advancements in auto industry standards that make modern passenger vehicles less of a threat to Ontario’s air quality than they were 20 years ago. That isn’t to say that emissions testing will disappear entirely—it will simply be reserved for heavy-duty diesel vehicles over 7 years old instead (think buses and trucks).

Even with drive clean testing now cancelled for most privately owned vehicles in Ontario, police officers in Ontario still have the right to stop you if they believe your emission control system needs to be inspected more thoroughly.

Thankfully, being stopped and ordered to service your vehicle to reduce emissions shouldn’t have any impact on your car insurance rates.

I still want to contribute to a greener environment. What can I do?

At the end of the day, even with Ontario Drive Clean cancelled for most privately owned passenger vehicles, you should still take care of your emissions system and make sure it is functioning as intended.

These systems are here to prevent excessive air pollution, so when they start to malfunction or wear down, your car’s emission levels are no longer going to be considered safe. Here are the steps you can take, in order to promote green driving and to join drivers dedicated to a better, safer environment for everyone: 

  • Take your car into a garage for regular checkups. If you can do it yourself, always make sure to clean your air filters. Make sure your carburetor isn’t dirty and that your engine parts aren’t worn down. The harder your car has to work in order to keep you on the road, the greater its emissions!
  • Don’t idle for more than 1-2 minutes. Turn it off if you’ll be idling for more than a minute or two.
  • Don’t accelerate rapidly if you can avoid it. If possible, always drive at the same, steady pace. Suddenly increasing your vehicle’s speed also increases its fuel consumption and, by extension, the amount of pollutants released into the atmosphere. 
  • Check out hybrid models if you’re in the market for a new vehicle. While scrapping a perfectly good older vehicle isn’t environmentally friendly either, an electric or hybrid vehicle could become a fuel saver (and a money saver) in the future. You might even see insurance perks in the future for driving an electric vehicle.


  • Last but not least, drive less frequently. That can mean hopping on public transportation, carpooling, walking, and biking if it’s feasible. The best thing about driving less often is that you can save money on your car insurance! Lower road exposure means lower risk, and that means lower rates (everything else being equal).

Remember, just because Ontario drive clean emissions tests don’t apply to passenger vehicles anymore, your car still needs to be safe on the road and reasonably environmentally friendly. Remember to take care of your vehicle!

Your emission control system works hard to protect the environment, and a stellar car insurance plan will work hard to protect and keep your drive worry-free! Check out our insurance plans and get your very own, personalized quote in 3 minutes!

Seriously, what else can you do in 3 minutes?

Boil half an egg?

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