On-board diagnostic (OBD) checks for inspection and maintenance in India

Poor air quality in India threatens the health of millions of people, and the country’s inspection and maintenance program, called Pollution Under Control (PUC), is struggling with outdated test methods and problems with enforcement.

Near-term reforms to the PUC program are needed to meet the inspection and maintenance (I/M) needs of the current, quickly modernizing fleet in India. New vehicle technology and testing methods provide major opportunities to reform and improve upon current vehicle inspection and maintenance practices. India could take advantage of a key technology, on-board diagnostic (OBD) systems, to improve the I/M process for vehicles meeting more stringent emission standards.

Including OBD checks as a supplement to the current test procedures is a change that can be implemented relatively quickly and will lay the foundation for a stronger, more effective program of inspection and maintenance in the future. It makes use of technology already included in millions of light- and heavy-duty vehicles on the road, allowing implementation of OBD checking procedures to proceed immediately once they are included in the PUC program.

The authors of this briefing recommend that India consider implementing OBD checks to identify malfunctioning emissions control systems in new vehicles, and to lower the burden on the country’s testing facilities. They specify five recommendations for how the country could proceed in doing so.