While you've been enjoying your summer, Wisconsin has been changing your emissions test locations. As of July 2, the old emissions testing locations have all closed, and you go to a new place. Don't be like me and drive over there like an idiot to find it closed. Stop and actually look at your license plate renewal notice. It has a website and a phone number to find your new location. (Just put in the zip).
Fear not. I’ve gone before you and tested the test. And you're in good hands.
In 53211 you will come up with . And Don Schmidt and his partner Keith Lasanske are nice guys. For over 25 years, they have been nice guys right here in Shorewood.
But, I will be frank, I was prepared to not like them.
I’m still a little freaked that there’s an abandoned emissions place with bells and whistles where I used to go.
Apparently, those facilities weren't actually owned by the state, they were owned by a contractor, Enviro Test. When that contract expired, the new contractor, Systech, went a different route.
I will admit, I miss the webcam to check how busy they were. I miss not having to think about car repair in the same day as my test. I was even more wary that I'm now taking my car to a repair shop where I'll be at the mercy with a pass/fail risk at hand...worrying that if I fail this guy is going to song and dance me into a lot of expensive work.
So it was in this furrowed state on Monday that I drove over and met Schmidt, the owner, and talked to him while my two wild children and I got the emissions tested. The co-owner, Lasanske, wasn't there, but his son, Blake, was, who is pictured and did the test, as he is one of a few emissions certified testers there.
And I had something else on Schmidt, too, lest I fail the test and have to resort to defensive "No thank-you-ing" if he started pushing me towards pricey or worse ... "question-mark" infinity-cost repair. He just happens to be the younger brother of a longtime friend of mine, so I'm a phone-call away from a good ear and swift kick from his older sister if any foul play over my car were to ensue. I’ll pass that along to you all too — because I definitely got the feeling from Schmidt I’d never need to call in that favor.
I can tell you they passed my test. Schmidt was calm, affable, and is obviously eager to show folks how the test works and how he understands peoples' concerns.
“The number one issue we get is people thinking we can somehow affect the test,” he said. “But we can’t."
There is no way to alter the test, because it is a plug going into the diagnostic hub of the computer in the car.
"Thanks to the diagnostics being the same on all cars since 1996," Schmidt informed me, "the test is a plug that fits into your car's computer. Then the machine spits out the form and it tells you everything. If there are no Volts showing up, it wasn’t connected properly. Any other trouble codes show up at the bottom of the sheet.
"The second worry people have is that we’re going to suggest a bunch of stuff they have to do here. We don’t intend to fix the fails, though we do take on jobs if asked. By law there can be no obligation to use us, so there is no need to even think we’re going to ask. We are a certified repair facility with a very loyal following. Any fail report also kicks out seven or eight suggested certified repair facilities."
So just call the number (414-963-0549), and make an appointment, and it is fast and kind of interesting. It takes less time than it does to ponder the Culver's flavor of the day across the street.
Schmidt has been flooded with emissions inspections, and being in the office for five minutes let me see the revolving door he’s got now that he’s the place.
“In July we were averaging 75 calls a day," he said.
So appointments are key, and in a month, there will be a separate spot to bring emissions test cars in and out and avoid the work bays.
The shop earns $2 per test completed.
“We signed up in order to have more contact with our communities, to let people get to know us,” he said. "They are doing that, and are making appointments from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and Saturday mornings."
So what if you fail? Note this change. There is a state-approved waiver to pass if you spend at least $819 to get your car fixed to pass the inspection. There is a by John Hauenfelder that has a lot of great commentary on it regarding this statewide issue .
Schmidt explained, “That means, if you go get an oxygen sensor at a parts store because it’s listed on your fail report, and spend $60 on it, and then fail because of another issue, you don’t get to count that $60 towards your $819 on repair. It has to be money that is spent under the guidance of a certified repair facility towards emissions issues.”
One last thing (I did Pass - hurrah!). Interesting side story – Shorewood Auto Repair was the first business in the village to take students from Shorewood High School through the transitions program, and a student named John Colton was the first such participant. As it turns out, Lasanske married Colton’s mom, and his son Blake, was my emissions test guy (pictured) today. Small world. Schmidt smiled wide, and, referring to Shorewood, said, “Hey, it’s Mayberry, and it’s great.”