MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - After months of angry Memphis motorists calling city hall, it looks like there's a change coming concerning the check engine light issue.
Currently when a car is inspected, if the light is on, the car fails. Now, the Wharton administration wants to have a one-year grace period for some people who can't afford to fix the problem.
However, only a few will get the chance to wait a year.
I need to renew my registration right now, and my check engine light is on. It's going to cost me a lot of money to find out what's wrong, so I know what a lot of you folks have been going through.
It's all in the name of clean air, say the folks at city hall, but they've got a plan that will help some of you.
Aspirin should be given to people getting their vehicles inspected. This check engine light thing has been a huge headache.
When it's on, it could mean emissions problems, or the gas cap isn't on tight, or all sorts of things. Even when motorists get the vehicle repaired, the computers at the inspection stations still won't necessarily give it the thumbs-up.
Henry Morgan got his check engine light fixed, "but still the truck failed," he said. "Well, it's not fair, but we have to work with the system, how the system's set up."
Folks with Mayor A C Wharton's administration say sure, things are tough, but Henry Morgan ought to be happy because they're cleaning up the air.
The system, sure, it's not great - but how about that air.
I asked Memphis Chief Administrative Officer, George Little, if they ever thought about scrapping the entire plan. "We thought about it," he said, "but again, we're certainly concerned about air quality number one, even if we didn't have the agreement."
There are people who understand, who like to breathe clean, and who don't mind this whole check engine light thing. We found one.
"It's good because some people, their cars pollute and stuff. If you have a good car then it doesn't have the pollution," said Andre Crowley after passing inspection.
It can cost hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars to do the repairs needed to shut the check engine light off. The city has a plan that will help people who are having enough trouble surviving day to day.
Get the car inspected, get the emissions checked in the tail pipe, and then you have one year to fix the check engine light problem.
Little explained, "It's a sliding scale based on an individual's income; one person with an annual income up to $16,500. It goes up to a family of eight at roughly $55,000-$56,000 a year."
It basically is set on the national poverty levels. There are some who say more needs to be done, like City Councilman Harold Collins, but he says it's a good start.
"I'm not sure the financial hardship may be something we need to review and to allow more citizens to be exempt for one year, so we can figure out how all the drivers in Shelby County are on Memphis streets and how that relates to our EPA issues."
City council members will hear all the details at their next meeting on June 19.