Auto Service World
News   February 10, 2020   by Allan Janssen

Vehicle inspections to go digital in Ontario

Starting with heavy vehicles and expanding to passenger vehicles next year, tablet-based inspections will be the norm.


By Allan Janssen

Ontario is moving to an OBD-based inspection program in an effort to put an end to fraudulent safety certificates and pull dangerous vehicles off the road

The new program is expected to be in effect for all vehicles – from motorcycles to heavy trucks – by July 1, 2021.

Jennifer Elliott of Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation addresses Ontario shop owners at the annual AARO symposium.

Jennifer Elliott, of Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation, said the program will start this summer with medium- and heavy trucks as the province consolidate its safety inspections and emissions testing into a single program.

The decision to revamp the heavy duty programs followed a scathing report late last year from the province’s auditor general, Bonnie Lysyk, who said not enough was being done to ensure road safety, and get unsafe commercial vehicles and drivers off the roads.

Elliott was one of the speakers at an annual symposium run by the Automotive Aftermarket Retailers of Ontario (AARO) earlier this year. She told shop owners and technicians that a program governing emissions and safety inspections for light-duty vehicles will follow next year.

“We will be strengthening emissions testing, looking for emissions overrides, and strengthening enforcement,” she said. “And it will be digital. The province is making a real push to go digital.”

She said the new tablet-based program would go a long way to solving the problem of fake safeties, often sold by crooks in cash transactions.

“When we started talking about merging emissions testing with commercial safety inspections, we recognized an opportunity to go digital like our light-duty emissions program,” she said. “Our motor vehicle inspection standard program which has been in place since 1974, has not evolved at all. It is still a paper-based program, which has significant challenges. By going digital we’re going to be able to address some of those concerns.”

Starting next year, safety inspections on light vehicles that are imported into the province or are being sold will go directly to the Ministry of Transportation.

“It will mirror exactly what you did for light-vehicle emissions,” she said.

The new system will allow ministry officials to intervene in real time when it sees suspicious behaviour, asking the tester to confirm information or submit additional photographs.

Furthermore, if pattern failures are detected, the province will be in a better position to look for dangerous conditions on particular vehicles or press carmakers for recalls.

There are no plans to make safety inspections more frequent – something which many in the room objected to. But Elliott said this is a first step in making a case for more comprehensive testing.

“We are starting to collect data. And from that data, we will be able to make changes in the future,” she explained.

“This is a huge win for our industry,” said Toronto shop owner John Cochrane, a member of the AARO board of directors. “Everyone in this room would like to see mandatory inspections every year, because we see the unsafe vehicles. But we have to prove the data. The politicians want to see that data before they’ll approve anything.”

He said the move to electronic records is long overdue.

“We’ve been living in a paper society with paper records, and the data has gone nowhere,” he said. “Now we’re going to have data going to the Ministry and we can start to build a case for regular inspections.”



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12 Comments » for Vehicle inspections to go digital in Ontario
  1. Bob Ward says:

    This is long over due. Not only will it improve the overall condition of vehicles on our roads but more importantly it will help eliminate fraudulent repair shops doing improper inspections. How can we help to speed this up? In my opinion this has been overlooked far too long.

  2. Kim Stankiewicz says:

    I’m all for tying in emissions with safety however Ontario is long overdue for annual inspections. It simply isn’t enough to check the roadworthiness only when a vehicle changes hands. You either can afford to drive a safe vehicle or you can’t afford to drive. As someone who drives 60,000 kms + annually, I would like to know the vehicles around me are maintained to a reasonable standard and service professionals are seeing them at least once a year.

  3. safeties are a joke in ontario once on the road there is minimal that can be done to enforce safety standards you must go to a shop to put vehicle on road but when we see it come back in for unrelated issues and inform costumer vehicle is not safe short of refusing to work on it or putting on work order vehicle does not meet mto safety standards our hands are tied we are powerless to remove vehicle from road and the things we see are down right scary we also believe brake and suspension parts should not be sold to general public who have no training just common sense

  4. I checked a cube van last week and it hadn’t been yellow stickered since 2107 . It needed fuel lines ( rotted and leaking ) , balding tires replaced , rocker panels rotted out, control arms falling off and ball joints as well and numerous items . The owner scoffed at my list and arranged his new sticker while truck was on my bay. I saw new sticker on it 2 days later . How do the 80% of the shops compete with the 20% selling stickers and incomplete safeties?
    Not to mention what we see come into our shops that people drive with no brakes and falling off steering parts too .
    This trade needs an enema and it’s even more ridiculous the government is on the bandwagon trying to attract new people into trades because when they get them and they find out that your hands are tied to do a good job in these cases it certainly will frustrate them just like it’s frustrating the ones in the trade now that maybe are regretting having chosen this.
    Clean it up across the board and all tides will rise .
    Annual safeties and photo safeties are good ideas .

  5. I am more than willing to get digital safety inspections in my shop, I will help in its developing ways if need be. I believe in emissions and annual inspections and that they are a great tool in out industry! Most of our clients tend to repair there vehicles and safeties would not be a big deal but I do not speak for everyone. Keep the good ideas rolling!

  6. kerry tye says:

    how does an existing inspection station get the required technology and links to change over to this system?

  7. Bob Bates says:

    Does this mean we have to join up to Dive Clean and pay for Training and licence Certificate, monthly fees along with additional insurance fees and the phone audits??? Just to be able to perform the OBD Emissions Inspection along with giving 3rd party (Parsons) access to our bank for Automatic monthly withdraws or face being shut down? And what happens when we have those slow times where we don’t do any inspections? do we still have to pay?
    This would be totally unfair to the small remote shops having to force us to send our customer to other shops just for this emissions add on!

  8. Josh says:

    Or better yet, instead of making people spend more money to get their car on the road, why don’t you just quit giving a mechanic license to everyone who walks in the door. Im 25 years old never been to any sort of mechanic school and i can run circles around most of the mechanics in southern ontario. Sorry to say but its not the public that should suffer because the countries schooling system is corrupt

  9. Andy says:

    Prepare yourselves for another government debacle. These are the things primarily used to collect funds rather than projected purposes. Remember who the governing people are on your next vote!

  10. Tracy White says:

    This is the same crap that the current government done away with when they came in power.

    Can’t really see how this would be of value to anyone but shop owners. Ohhh wait now the picture is coming clear.

    Shop owners AARO umm makes the whole thing clear now.

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