Did you know that before 1970, the smog that enveloped many US cities was at least 50% more polluted? Or that there were at least 70% more toxins in the air compared to today?
This was especially true for Los Angeles, where the smog was so thick “you could cut it with a knife”.
It was because of this that gave birth to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since then, the EPA has continued to reduce air pollution in the country. Its achievements before — and up to now — have saved countless lives from the effects of air pollution.
The smog check, also known as the emissions test, is one of the programs that has helped the EPA reach these goals. Today, most motorists wouldn't even be able to drive without passing this test.
The good news is, there are ways to boosts your chances of nailing your next smog test. And that's exactly what we're here to share with you in this post, so be sure to keep reading!
Smog Check 101: What This Test Is All About
Today, smog checks are a legal requirement in 31 states and the District of Columbia. However, state laws vary as to which cars should undergo it and how often these vehicles should go for the test.
Still, all smog tests have the same purpose: to check the engine emissions of a vehicle. They identify vehicles that generate high levels of emissions. Those found to have such smoke-belching problems fail the exam.
And yes, it can be quite easy to flunk this test. In fact, in California alone, over 10% of 11 million vehicles tested for smog emissions in 2015 failed. Many more fail (and continue to) in other states.
You need to take your next smog test seriously, as striking out means you wouldn't be able to register your car. And because it's illegal to drive an unregistered vehicle, you'd likely have to commute. You’d have to keep doing this until you get your vehicle repaired and smog-certified.
Now, keep in mind that the average smog check price range is between $30 and $90. You'll keep shelling out this kind of money so long as your car fails the test. So, not only do you not get to drive your car, but you'll also spend a lot on having it re-tested every time it flunks.
That said, be sure to do the following steps first before you start googling “smog check near me”. These will help you get your show on the road, all legal, registered, and smog-certified.
Get That Lit Check Engine Light Turned Off
A lit “Check Engine” light is usually (and automatically) one of the main reasons cars fail smog tests. That's why you should get that light out first before you hit the smog testing facility.
One reason that your vehicle is likely to fail is that this light may be indicating a faulty oxygen sensor. This part of your exhaust system ensures proper gas and air mixture fills up your engine. Without correct gas-air balance, your ride will generate more emissions.
So, don’t ignore that “Check Engine” light. Get it to the mechanic who can make sure you have a fully-functional oxygen sensor prior to the smog test.
Go for an Oil Change
Dirty or contaminated oil produces excessive carbon monoxide emissions. CO isn't only a major air pollutant — it's also outright deadly. Plus, it affects the other greenhouse gases already present in the atmosphere.
With all these CO dangers, you can expect your car to fail the smog test if it creates too much of this gas. Fortunately, you can correct this by getting an oil change. Besides, new oil will help boost your car's fuel-efficiency and performance anyway.
Make Sure You Have Properly Inflated Tires
Under-inflated tires create some level of drag within your car. This “drag” places more pressure on your ride's engine and transmission system. This increased pressure forces them to work harder, which results in more emissions.
Also, if your car will go through a dynamometer, its under-inflated tires will make it unstable. This instability can again force your engine and transmission to work even harder. This equates to even more emissions, which will likely make your car fail the smog test.
Take Your Car in for Its Routine Tune-Up
Before you bring your car to a smog check facility, have it go through a full tune-up service first. This way, your mechanic can perform the necessary maintenance steps on your ride. These include topping up your coolant and gas tanks as well as changing your dirty filters.
All these will help bring your engine back to its tip-top condition.
Do make sure, however, to schedule the tune-up at least half a month before the test. During the tune-up, the mechanic has to disconnect the battery. This will reset your ride's computer, so you need to rack up those miles again for the test.
Clear out the Junk in Your Trunk
The heavier the burden your car carries, the harder its engine has to work. Anything that makes the engine work harder will result in greater emissions. That's why, before the test, make sure you remove anything you don't need from the trunk.
This may include tools, equipment, and personal items. The important thing is to keep your car as light as possible before you bring it in for testing.
Nail That Smog Test with These Pro Tips
There you have it, your ultimate guide on how to pass a smog check with flying colors. So long as you keep these tips in mind, your ride will have higher chances of getting smog-certified. Best of all, you can make sure that your car isn't being a threat to other people and the environment.
If your car keeps failing the test, however, it may be a sign that your ride is too old and it's better to scrap it. It may no longer be worth it to pay for pricey car repairs just because you want to pass a smog test.
If you think it's time to sell or junk your old car and upgrade to a new one, we can help. Give us a ring now so we can give you a quote on how much your car is worth!