Local News

Price Of Auto Inspections To Go Up With Addition Of Emissions Testing

Posted June 21, 2002 3:36 a.m. EDT

— The price of cleaner air is going to cost North Carolinians.

On July 1, there will be a new twist to auto inspections in nine North Carolina counties. Urban counties, which include Wake, Durham and Orange, will have new emission standards.

Nearly 1,500 inspection stations are required by state law to buy $15,000 worth of new, state-of-the-art testing equipment.

To help service stations cover costs, the General Assembly has already increased the inspection fee from $19 to $30. However, with the new standards and the new equipment, retailers said each inspection will now cost them $38.

"We're stuck with that. You can't just say 'Hey, well I had to buy a lot of new equipment this year and I'm going to get a better price.' You can't do it. There's a ceiling price of what you can charge, which is not enough," said Al Dorsett of the North Carolina Service Stations Association.

Drivers could see gas prices go up, as well as prices for repairs. Service station owners WRAL talked with said they will not just eat their losses.

The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles will regulate the new emission standards. The agency understands that consumers may be upset about paying more, but they are bound to the standards set by the Federal Clean Air Act.

"We have to comply with federal law. We're trying. Our mission is to accomplish the goal of clean air," said Lt. Col. John Robinson of the DMV.

Some service station owners said it is unclear whether the state will be ready for the new emissions program by July 1. One thing is clear; when the standards go up, the prices go up.

The North Carolina Service Station Association said the new testing standards could put some small volume inspection stations out of business.