What makes a car a “hot rod”?
Many people think a “hot rod” is any car modified to go faster. In Ontario, that’s not true.
By regulation, a hot rod is any car whose original motor has been replaced by a different type.
Type refers to the motor’s:
- block size (displacement)
- use in the vehicle’s model and model year*.
*Any motor that was available for that model and model year (for example, it may have come as an option) would not be a different type and, therefore, not qualify as a hot rod.
Emissions requirements for vehicles licensed in Ontario
Vehicles are a major source of air pollution. That’s why Ontario has Drive Clean, a program in place in most parts of the province that requires vehicles to have their emissions systems tested.
As well, provincial officers, employed by the Ministry of the Environment, patrol highways on alert for smoking tailpipes.
But, no matter where you live, whether you’ve had a Drive Clean test, or what kind of vehicle you drive, you are subject to Ontario’s emissions standards.
For vehicles, registered or driven in Ontario, the following applies:
- Any and all emissions equipment installed on the car when manufactured must be in tact, maintained and functioning as intended throughout the vehicle’s life. You can replace emission control systems, devices, or parts as long as the replacements do the equivalent job as the original.
- You cannot legally operate a vehicle if it emits visible emissions for more than 15 seconds in any five-minute period.
- All vehicles must meet or exceed the emission standards for that model year of vehicle, as set out in the Drive Clean Guide. Vehicles built during or before 1980 must meet the standards set out in the category “1980 and earlier”.
Emissions requirements for hot rods
Whether your car is a true hot rod or simply a modified vehicle, it has emissions requirements.
Please use the following chart to determine what’s applicable to your vehicle under the Environmental Protection Act’s Motor Vehicles regulation (Ontario Regulation 361/98).
To use these charts:
1. Go to the chart that applies to your car’s original model year:
2. Find the column that applies to when you replaced the motor.
If needed, these example scenarios should help you determine what applies to your vehicle.
If you have questions, email the ministry's Sector Compliance Branch at ReviewDirectorSCB@ontario.ca.