Contact 6 investigates complaints over new emissions testing sites

MILWAUKEE -- Those who have taken a vehicle in for an emissions test after this summer likely noticed none of the old emissions testing sites are open anymore. This past July, nine emissions testing facilities in southeastern Wisconsin were closed, and now, almost 200 auto shops are doing the job.

When it was announced that full service auto shops would be handling emissions testing, some drivers worried they might be offered repairs they don't really need.

Recently, FOX6's Contact 6 received a complaint from a driver who said his vehicle failed emissions testing. He said he was told that for $20, workers could figure out why.

He declined, and said he returned later that day to the same facility and during a second emissions test, his vehicle passed.

Contact 6 reached out to the company. A company spokesperson said this situation was "a misunderstanding" and Contact 6 couldn't find that the company did anything wrong. However, the company has an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau. In fact, Contact 6 found that several facilities on the list have "F" ratings.

Contact 6 discovered one shop has three complaints with Wisconsin's Consumer Protection Office. Two are for "repairs done without customer consent."

The Wisconsin DOT said it didn't know about the complaints -- because it never looked.

Scott Selbach oversees the new emissions program for the DOT. The DOT pays $2.6 million to Systech International -- a private company that runs vehicle inspection programs all over the country. Selbach said the DOT chose sites based on location, qualified staff and the ability to handle a lot of customers.

"The one thing you want to keep in mind is the Department of Transportation by contract, we have the ability to remove an inspection facility for any reason at any time," Selbach said.

Selbach said the DOT will be conducting announced and covert checkups on each emissions testing site, to make sure they're sticking to the rules.

FOX6's Contact 6 reached out to each of the emissions testing sites to ask about the customer complaints. Most said they didn't know they had bad ratings, and are going to work with the BBB and the state on resolving the issues.

CLICK HERE for more information on the Wisconsin Vehicle Inspection Program, and to find a list of emissions testing sites.