The New Pennsylvania State Emissions Law...




     Just in case you Pennsylvania motorheads didn’t hear, there are new emissions rules in Pennsylvania, which will effect you if your toys are 1969 or newer. Your tubbed out, pro-street S-10 pickup may no longer be road worthy, according to these new rules. Your buddy’s big block ‘78 Malibu may now be an environmental road hazard & that punk kid down the street with the 11 second 5.0 Mustang might find himself driving mom’s Windstar to work because he can’t get his $20,000 sleeper inspected. Even if your pride & joy is older, your tow vehicle may still be affected.


     I’ll summarize the new rules for you in one sentence. If your vehicle had emissions from the factory, those devises must be on the vehicle. These laws are not new. However the way the law is enforced is. Although I grew up in an era where “ripping off the pollution junk” was proper procedure and getting rid of the catalytic converter was a performance enhancement, it was against the law. A law no one really enforced, except in heavily populated counties where cars have to go through the “sniffer test”. Now the rural counties are affected as well, but in a different way. These counties do not have the “sniffer test” but starting Dec. 1, 2003, they have a VISUAL TEST requirement in order to pass a Pa. State Inspection. If your vehicle is registered in one of the following counties, you’re affected. Apparently, the new registration cards will have your county on it, however none of my current ones does.


     ADAMS                                                FOREST                                    PERRY

     ARMSTRONG                                     FRANKLIN                               PIKE

     BEDFORD                                           FULTON                                    POTTER

     BRADFORD                                        GREENE                                     SCHUYLKILL

     BUTLER                                               HUNTINGDON                        SNYDER

     CAMERON                                          INDIANA                                   SOMERSET

     CARBON                                             JEFFERSON                               SULLIVAN

     CLARION                                            JUNIATA                                    SUSQUEHANNA

     CLEARFIELD                                      LAWRENCE                              TIOGA

     CLINTON                                            McKEAN                                     UNION

     COLUMBIA                                         MIFFLIN                                      VENANGO

     CRAWFORD                                        MONROE                                    WARREN

     ELK                                                      MONTOUR                                   WAYNE

     FAYETTE                                             NORTHUMBERLAND                WYOMING


     The rules pertain to passenger cars & light duty trucks having a registered gross weight of 11,000 lbs or less. Yes, that’s right………, those stinky 18 wheeler are not affected but your uncle Joe’s ‘75 Trans-Am is. The following is an excerpt from the D.O.T. letter from Harrisburg, received at my local inspection garage on 11/21/03.

     “Beginning December 1, 2003, passenger cars and light duty trucks registered in the 42 counties listed previously and subject to the safety inspection, will include a visual inspection of the components listed below as part of the safety inspection procedure.

  • Fuel Inlet Restrictor
  • Catalytic Converter
  • Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) Valve
  • Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) Valve
  • Air Injection Reaction System
  • Evaporative Control System

     Vehicles being inspected shall be checked visually for the presence of the above emission control components. These components may be original vehicle equipment or an equivalent aftermarket replacement component meeting the same standards.

     The visual inspection shall be performed through direct observation or through indirect observation, using a mirror as a visual aid.

     Provided that the make and model year of the vehicle would have originally been equipped with the device, you will fail a vehicle for inspection if one or more of the following apply:

  • The catalytic converter has been removed, disconnected or is the wrong type for the certified vehicle configuration.
  • Exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valve has been removed, disconnected or is the wrong type for the certified vehicle configuration.
  • Positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) valve has been removed, disconnected or is the wrong type for the certified vehicle configuration.
  • Fuel inlet restrictor has been removed, disconnected or is the wrong type for the certified vehicle configuration.
  • Air pump has been removed, disconnected or the wrong type for the certified vehicle configuration.
  • Evaporative control system components have been removed, disconnected or are the wrong type for the certified vehicle configuration.

     Inspectors may use the Vehicle Emission Control Information (VECI) label in the engine compartment or an appropriate reference manual to determine which emission components were originally placed on a vehicle at the time of manufacture. Only those components (listed above) that were part of the original certified vehicle configuration are subject to this portion of the inspection. If a component was not originally on a vehicle at the time of manufacture, it will pass inspection without it.”

     The rest of the document goes onto tell inspection stations how to correctly use the new inspection forms.

     Here’s a little emissions history lesson. If your vehicle was manufactured in 1975 or newer, it must have a catalytic converter on it. 1973 or newer…….. EGR and the unleaded fuel inlet on your gas filler tube. 1971 or newer…….. The evaporator canister. 1969 or newer……… the A. I. R. pump. 1968 or newer….. PCV. Wow!!! How many 69 Camaros out there still have an A.I.R pump on them yet?

     By now, your thinking “ Man, there’s gotta be a loop hole” or “ There has to be a way around this”. Well, according to this letter, there is an exemption. The letter states “Vehicles displaying a classic or collectible registration plate are not required to be inspected for the emission control equipment listed above. However, all other inspection requirements continue to apply for these vehicles.”

     Ok……….. So now you’re thinking, “What do I have to do to get an antique, classic, or collectible tag?” Well, I was able to pick up an application at my local notary. It’s form MV-11 (7-97) and you check off which plate you what to apply for. The rules around the antique plate are, no reproductions, vehicle must be 25 years old or older, and it must be “maintained in or restored to a condition which is substantially in conformance with manufacturer specifications”. In other words, original. How do you prove it’s original? 4 color pictures showing the front, back & both sides. The classic tag works the same way but the vehicles only have to be 15 years old or older. These tags should get your weekend warrior back on legal street, but what about pro-street? Your not gonna hide a 6” cowl hood, full roll cage, and 33” Mickeys from the camera.

     In this case, it sounds like the “collectible plate” may be the answer. Harrisburg’s definition of a collectible is as follows” “a reconstructed motor vehicle, but not a reproduction thereof, substantially modified from the manufacturer’s original specifications and appearance and maintained in a collectible condition as determined by the Department of Transportation. NOTE: Generally, substantial changes to the engine and exhaust systems must be done to qualify the vehicle as a collectible motor vehicle. If the extensive changes are other than the engine, be sure to give very detailed and specific information in section C on the front of this form. In addition, the vehicle must primarily be used for show and must appear to be in “show” condition in the photographs submitted with the application.” To receive this plate, you must give a detailed description of the modifications to the car and besides the 4 body photos, 2 more pictures, one of the motor and one of the exhaust system are required.

     The inspection rules for these plates are as follows: “Classic and collectible vehicles are subject to vehicle safety inspection annually. Antique vehicles operated exclusively between sunrise and sunset are exempt from normal lighting requirements of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, but must have their original lighting equipment. Antique vehicles are not subject to the annual safety inspection. Antique, classic and collectible vehicles are not subject to emissions inspection.” My interpretation of the part about driving antiques at night is, if your vehicle is new enough to have the “normal lighting requirements” (brake lights, turn signals, etc.), you can drive at night.

     If a special plate will not help you and you decide to put emissions back on you vehicle, you’ll need to do some shopping. I am hopeful no one ever punched out the fuel inlet restrictor on your gas filler tube, but if they did, you’re looking at a new gas tank. Finding a new catalytic converter won’t be too hard. Here is a website that can help.

     PCV & EGR are real easy buy new & EGR intakes are plentiful at the junkyards. Finding the correct A.I.R. pump and evaporative control system my be a little harder to find. Looking in or Ebay maybe your best bet to find those items. I predict that, because now, there is a market for old emissions parts, this stuff will start popping up at swap meets.

Hope all this info was helpful,