The Results are in for High-Emitting Vehicles

  • March 19, 2018
  • |
  • Mikey Weitekamp

While Clean Air Minnesota may be best known for large-scale emission-reduction efforts like Project Green Fleet, our unique blend of partners and knowledge also provides a great place to test new, innovative ideas to reduce air pollution.

One such idea was recently put to the test— and the results are in.

We recently wrapped up the first phase of the High-Emitting Vehicles pilot project, which you can learn more about in our introduction blog post. To sum it up, we work with The Lift Garage and Cars for Neighbors— nonprofits that provide free or reduced-cost safety and reliability repairs to help Minnesotans achieve economic security. As garages are fixing brakes or suspension, Environmental Initiative pays the full cost for them to also repair emission controls like catalytic converters, oxygen sensors, and evaporative emission control (EVAP) systems. Given that 25% of passenger vehicles cause 90% of air pollution from autos, this project provides highly cost-effective emission reductions, repairs cars for those who need it most, and advances the important missions of project partners.

In the first year of piloting this project, we’ve had substantial results that we’re proud to showcase.

  • We provided 64 emission system repairs to 51 different cars, significantly surpassing the project’s goal of repairing 37 vehicles.
  • The most common type of repair was to oxygen sensors, which help balance the fuel mixture and ensure that a car is running efficiently. These were followed closely in number by replaced catalytic converters, an expensive repair that controls emissions like Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), and Carbon Monoxide (CO).
  • We estimate that these repairs reduced just under a ton of both NOx and VOCs. This means that we’ve not only proven cost-effectiveness for the project, but the emission reductions are competitive with Clean Air Minnesota’s other mobile source work.

Even more importantly, there were multiple instances where repairing a catalytic converter or EVAP system was critical to getting these cars back on the road and providing safer, more reliable transportation. These repairs, in part, helped participants become more economically secure. Thank you to this project’s partners and funders for making this work possible: Cars for Neighbors, The Lift Garage, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and Flint Hills Resources.

What’s Next?

While this first phase of this project has come to a conclusion, the multiple benefits are now proven. We’re working hard to secure funding for a second phase and hope to continue. Interested in this project? Contact me at or 612-334-3388 ext. 8109.