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Contact: Elaine Makatura
(609) 292-2994 or
Peter Boger
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(03/72) TRENTON – The McGreevey Administration announced today that it was revising the start date for a new test that is part of the state's vehicle inspection program, beginning the test on August 4, 2003 instead of June 2. The new procedure allows inspectors to read a vehicle's on board diagnostic (OBD) computer to determine if there have been any malfunctions in the emissions-related systems.

"The additional time will help us minimize any glitches in the testing system that might inconvenience motorists," said Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "Our fundamental goal is to make inspections as user-friendly as possible while safeguarding the quality of New Jersey's air for the health of our communities."

When New Jersey last updated its emissions testing program in December of 1999, requiring the use of dynamometers for testing tailpipe emissions, the program changes were implemented prior to the system being fully tested, resulting in frequent equipment failures and inordinately long lines at inspection stations.

"We want to avoid rushing a new test into our inspection program before we have determined that the system is working properly," Campbell added. He noted that the later start date will also allow more privately owned inspection facilities to complete the installation of the OBD testing systems in time for the roll out of the testing requirement.

"More time is needed to scrutinize and test this new and important technology," said Diane Legreide, director of the Division of Motor Vehicles. " By revising the implementation date and catching problems before they arise, we can provide a level of service to residents they expect and deserve."

A vehicle's OBD computer, which is federally mandated to be installed on all vehicles manufactured in 1996 or later, monitors all emissions-related systems and stores a code whenever a malfunction is detected. Motorists are made aware of any problems by the "Check Engine" indicator light on their dashboards.

Since some emission system malfunctions do not adversely affect a vehicle's performance, they can go undetected by the driver for some time. The OBD test can detect problems as small as a pinhole-sized leak, alerting motorists of problems before they potentially become more costly to repair or create an excess of harmful emissions.

The use of an OBD test will replace the traditional tailpipe emissions test in inspections for most cars manufactured in 1996 or later.

Since February 2003, New Jersey has conducted trial runs of the new testing system at centralized inspection stations. Almost all centralized inspection stations around the state now are equipped to conduct OBD tests.

New Jersey's 1,400 Private Inspection Facilities (PIFs) are also in the process of upgrading to the new OBD test. Although the start date for OBD testing has changed, PIFs have until the original deadline of May 15 to apply for state funding to offset the costs of upgrading their systems. The state is providing $1 million to PIFs committed to the OBD testing program to help defray the costs of needed software upgrades.

With the new OBD test, New Jersey's motorists retain the option of having their vehicle inspected at either a centralized inspection facility or a PIF.



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Last Updated: July 14, 2010