The Toyota Prius vs. the Georgia Emissions Test

Nov. 28, 2007: Source – Atlanta Journal Constitution


In an ironic twist, one of the cleanest running cars on the road, the Toyota Prius, is having trouble passing the Georgia emissions test. This problem was first reported in April 2007. Prius owners have become dumbfounded and frustrated over the ordeal. The same goes for Georgia emissions testing officials who discovered the glitch that causes the vehicle to fail the test every time.

According to Tim Smith, the program manager for the vehicle emissions and inspection program at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the software used by the testing program is incompatible with the Prius. But this is basically an interface issue, and is expected to be resolved early next year. In an effort to complete testing, officials attempted a secondary approach, called the two-speed idle test (TSI), which captures and reads tailpipe exhaust. But this system requires the car to be able to idle with the engine running, something the eco-friendly Prius won’t always do. So again, the test aborts and fails.

After discovering that the TSI will not work in this situation, state officials have developed a 10-step procedure to work around the idling problem, but this method is difficult to execute and requires more practice on the part of the test facilitators.

With some Priuses striking out on all three fronts, owners of the car are on edge. State officials are now scrambling to resolve this issue quickly. "We are concerned about this becoming a larger problem," said Smith. "We expect a lot more of these vehicles to show up at these stations."


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  • Danny

    um…can’t you just crank up the AC to full blast and eventually the engine will turn on

    the other thing is, i think there is supposed to be “diagnostic mode” to leave the engine idling

  • Sebastian

    Hmmm,…Let’s see,… no emissions at idle cause there is no idle…sounds like the damn thing passes to me. Now check the box exempt and move on. Bureaucratic problem solved untill the government gets off its ass and makes an ecceptable test…Resolved by next year? lets hope the “new” software doesn’t get mired in red tape.

  • Jim Hull

    Sounds like the problem is with the government testing(typical),and not the car.

  • Tim

    That’s what you get living in Georgia! I would just move…

  • Stan Smart

    Another example of why the US
    is becoming second-rate!

    These bumbling ploliticos can’t
    even think logically. No wonder
    we can’t get any respect…

  • Alan Boyle

    The issue lies in the fact that there must have been an oversight at Toyota. If the Prius is the ONLY car that can’t communicate with the equipment at emission stations then that means Toyota never bothered to check system compatibility.

  • Gmavin

    Isn’t the first time goverment blames it on the computer, I call it human interferance. G.E.Fassauer

  • DaveM

    In maryland the hybrid “bonus” is never having to do emissions tests.

  • Grimey

    Emissions testing for a Prius… what a scam. Why don’t they just reach into your pocket and take the money they want, and we can forget about this dog and pony show.

  • qqRockyBeans

    and I have never driven one

    Theoretically this should work, but I don’t guarantee anything:

    Try and do a burnout on the Prius! Smoking the tires and racing the engine should make the car drain the battery faster than the regen can recharge it, creating a net effect of losing juice. Then, get the battery charge down in the range of 2-5% (but NOT ZERO!!) I think it has a battery meter but I don’t know. Turn the AC to MAX, play with the windows, turn the radio up all the way, and use all the electric accessories to help you get the charge down.

    that will completely kill the battery and cost thousands to replace!!!


    Anyway, once the battery is discharged, that should force the car to idle for awhile until the battery can recharge. I don’t know exactly how long this will last, but it should work long enough to pass the test.

    Good luck!!!
    but I still can’t believe that Georgia’s emissions test would be tougher than California’s!!

  • Lon Toontwister

    This is not a real problem, is it?

    But this is a perfect example of results obtained when we put morons in charge of anything.

    Inasmuch as much of the polution problem is produced by idling vehicles, how about a really simple two-step test that should work for any car including the Prius. Step 1 – Set the car to idle. If the car idles, perform the usual test. TEST COMPLETE. Step 2 – If the car does not idle, it does not cause the major polution problem. Therefore the idle test is not required. Perform the rest of the tests normally.


  • sean

    I agree w/ Lon T.
    The procedures were written before the era of hybrids. How can you test an idling vehicle if it does not idle? Or the tester can just say “Prius consumes zero liter of gas / 100 miles idling”. It’s that simple.