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SALT LAKE CITY — New requirements in Salt Lake and Weber counties could mean motorists will pay more for vehicle emissions testing at some locations, health department officials say.
An upgrade to the vehicle testing network last week now requires technicians to document a vehicle's VIN, vehicle emissions control label and catalytic converter with a digital photo taken from a workstation-integrated camera, said Nicholas Rupp, spokesman for the Salt Lake County Health Department.
The testing sites did not need to purchase the cameras, as they are part of the workstations provided by the county.
"They are also required to capture an image of any emissions control devices that are tampered with or missing," he said, adding that technicians aren't required to remove any covers or enclosures of devices originally installed by vehicle manufacturers.
The change was not implemented as part of a requirement in state or county code. The only counties that require emissions testing for some vehicles based on model year are Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Cache and Utah counties.
Weber County, which is also affected by the change, caps its emissions testing cost at $30. But in Salt Lake County, prices are self-regulated and the average fee is $25, according to the Division of Motor Vehicles.
One Salt Lake County car dealership charged a customer $75 for an emissions test Saturday, explaining that the price increase was tied to the new photo requirements.
"Stations were supposed to visually verify these items anyway, before the upgrade, and the photo requirement just ensures they really are doing that visual verification that has existed all along," Rupp said. "Programs in other states that have incorporated this process into their emissions inspection/testing have realized better standardization and integrity of their programs."
Rupp said an analysis of the testing since the county began requiring photos shows an increase in the time it takes to perform an inspection of two to three minutes.
While some technicians say they don't believe they need to charge customers more due to the change, some say they are raising prices, prompting officials to urge drivers to shop around for reasonable prices in their area.
"Some emissions stations have decided that additional time warrants a price increase, so we encourage vehicle owners to shop around for the best price for their emissions test," he said.