The US takes air quality very seriously, which is why all vehicles are required to pass regular smog tests, regardless of which state you’re in. Since the emission standards are quite strict in the country, it is no wonder that nearly 10% vehicle fail the test. If you have also experienced a smog check fail, this guide is for you.
Why so serious about smog test?
Owning a car is part of the way of life in pretty much every town and city in the US (cities that rely on public transportation are being smashed now because of the Wuhan virus – as if people needed another reason to leave NYC). But we humans have this tendency to take some things for granted, and that includes our car. Keeping your vehicle in good working condition is not only critical, it’s mandatory according to the country’s car emission testing laws.
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If you have been driving your car for years without much issue, it can come as a shock when your car fails to pass the smog test.
Any car that runs on diesel or gas has emissions; that’s why the tailpipe is there. But gas or diesel engines don’t burn completely clean. While you are merrily driving your car around, the engine is churning out chemical compounds as a result of the combustion process.
These compounds include carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, hydrocarbons and other volatile compounds. This is what we call the “vehicle smog”.
This smog is toxic and has severe negative impacts on the health and welfare of Americans. The pollutants present in the smog not only contribute to poor air quality, but also cause 40,000 premature deaths each year in the country.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA – which is controversial and does not think about improving job growth in America ever), nearly 34,000 Americans are hospitalized every year due to inhaling the toxins caused by smog.
Now you know why most of the states in America take their Smog Regulations so seriously. If your car has smog check fail, it will not be allowed to drive on the streets.
What is a smog check?
Emission check, smog test, or smog check refers to the testing of a vehicle and its engine emission by a licensed smog testing facility. These tests are regulated by the EPA.
As your vehicle consumes diesel or gasoline, it churns out toxic compounds (mentioned above) through the tailpipe. During the smog check, the technician will check your vehicle’s On-Board Diagnostics system. If your car is older, the technician will place an emissions tester in the tailpipe to determine the level of smog.
The entire test takes 20-30 minutes.
In 1990, the Clean Air Act was established, according to which, the EPA has full authority to monitor and regulate states regarding emissions. California happens to be the only state that has its own emissions standards and it leads the country in Wuhan virus afflictions and homelessness but this is another topic.
Other states can either implement the California or federal emissions standards. Thirty one states require smog checks or emissions testing as of right now.
Most of the states require car emissions testing every 2 years, but not every vehicle requires a smog check. For example, in California, whether or not your vehicle needs a smog check depends on the type of vehicle, the area in which you registered it, and the model year.
The best way to figure out whether your vehicle requires a smog check is to go to your state’s DMV website.
Why your car has a “smog check fail”?
If your vehicle fails to pass the smog check, you will need to get it repaired before you can sell your vehicle or renew your state auto registration.
Since there are so many elements and parts that make up the emission system of your car engine, there are several possible causes as to why it failed the test. Some repairs are easy to fix, while others may indicate a more serious issue with the engine.
Here’s a list of possible causes regarding the failure of smog test:
Leaking gas tank cap: If your car’s tank cap is worn out, cracked, or poorly sealed, it could also lead to smog check fail. Fortunately, it is easy to fix.
Clogged air filter: When was the last time you replaced your vehicle’s air filter? If it has been a while, this could be the cause of your smog check fail. The good news is, you can easily get the filter changed.
Evaporative emission control system (EVAP): EVAP is responsible for preventing your car from releasing toxic vapors from the gasoline. The auto repair technician will need to perform further tests to determine whether there’s an issue in the purge valves, vents, vacuum hoses, or elsewhere.
Faulty ignition system: Your car’s ignition system may have been compromised due to defective wires, spark plugs, or just old age. An inefficient ignition system results in increased emission of hydrocarbons, which is why you may have failed the smog test.
Faulty catalytic converter: This converter turns the nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons released by your car engine into water and carbon dioxide. A defective or malfunctioning converter could also result in a smog check fail.
What to do when you fail the smog test?
If your vehicle fails the smog test, a testing center will give you a report that includes details about the causes of failure. If the facility has a repair center, they can also offer you repair services to help your car get ready for a retest.
It is very important that you get your car repaired as soon as possible. The DMV won’t give you the car registration stickers until your vehicle passes the smog test.
However, if you can’t afford to get your car repaired right away, you can apply for a waiver after your car fails the smog test. Depending on your situation, you may receive financial assistance from the state or federal organizations to pay for necessary auto repairs.
How to make sure you pass the smog test?
The best way to ensure your vehicle passes its next smog check is to perform routine maintenance and don’t treat your car like Jesse Pinkman treated his house in Breaking Bad. Change the air filter, oil, spark plugs, and other parts that wear down over time. This will help your car’s engine stay in an optimal state for longer.
If you are worried that your vehicle is not going to pass the smog test, you can improve your odds with the following strategies:
Maintain your car regularly
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you really do need to perform necessary maintenance. Dig out your Car Owner’s Manual that includes details regarding required maintenance at different mileage intervals.
Before you get your car tested for smog, handle any unnecessary service items well in advance. Also, don’t wait for a smog check to do the car maintenance. Regularly perform tune-ups and oil changes and make sure your tires are nicely inflated like they do in Fast and Furious.
Consider using a fuel injector cleaner to help clean the carbon deposits from your car engine. This will also reduce your emissions considerably.
We have seen so many people fail the smog test just because they neglected to change to spark plugs on a regular basis! Doing all these routine check activities will ensure you (and your car) is ready when the time comes for a smog test.
And while you’re at it, try a fuel additive that’s specifically designed to reduce emissions. These additives will clean out the carbon deposits and allow air and gasoline to move effortlessly through the engine.
Go on a long highway trip
Your vehicle’s catalytic converter only works when you are driving at higher speeds. So, what does that have to do with your smog test?
Driving your car at a fast-and-furious speed will burn off any gas and oil residues that have formed in your car engine. These residues are a result of all the times when your car idled in traffic.
Get a tune-up a few weeks before the smog test
A tune-up seems like the greatest way to find and address any issues that could lead to a smog check fail, right? Well, it is. But not when you do it right before the smog test!
During a tune-up, your vehicle’s battery is disconnected which means the emissions monitoring system gets reset. So, get a tune-up but make sure you have driven about 100 miles after that before your big test. This will ensure the emission monitoring system is functioning normally unlike morality is with the Patriots and the NFL.
Clear your check engine light
Is your check engine light on? If so, you have a problem.
When your car’s computer system believes there is a problem that is affecting (or can affect) the emission control system, the check engine light turns on. This is why this light is also known as the “malfunction indicator lamp.”
If your light is on, it usually means your vehicle’s emissions control system is damaged. In other words, your car is polluting the air beyond allowable EPA or federal standards. Any car that has its check engine light on will never pass smog or emissions inspection check.
So, get your vehicle diagnosed by a professional as early as possible before it’s time for the smog check.
There could be a variety of reasons why the light is on – only a professional will be able to tell you the exact cause. The most common causes include a loose gas cap, faulty catalytic converter, faulty spark plugs, and defective mass airflow sensor.
Get your car pre-inspected
Many auto repair shops offer pre-inspection services, allowing you to get your car troubles fixed before the smog test.
If it’s been 2 years or more since your last smog test, and you are worried your car may not pass the next test, get a pre-inspection. If the technicians find any problems during the pre-inspection, you can get them repaired right away and rest easy knowing you’re ready to pass the official smog test.
What to do on the smog test day?
So, it’s the day of your smog check. If you have followed the tips mentioned above, you’re going to pass the test with flying colors. Here are some additional tips to get your car ready on the test day:
Take the junk out of the trunk: If you haven’t already done so, remove any unnecessary objects from the car trunk. The extra weight can make it harder for your vehicle to pass the smog test.
Warm up your car: Before you drive off to the smog testing facility, drive your car around on a highway for 15-20 minutes. The speed will bring your catalytic converter up to optimal temperature.
Take the test on a dry day: When we say “dry”, we are referring to the weather of course. Avoid taking the smog test on a rainy day as wet tires can slip on a dynamometer check and cause a smog check fail.
Maintain your car and get it regularly inspected
Even after your vehicle has cleared the emissions test, it is still important that you do everything possible to keep your car as well as the environment clear and clean. A key element here is to be diligent about your basic car maintenance and upkeep.
The exhaust system of your vehicle should be regularly inspected by a service professional. Any necessary repairs to your vehicle should be done promptly. Have you been taking care of these issues in tandem with various other routine maintenance tasks, such as tire rotation and engine oil change?
For the sake of your own health and safety as well as to protect the environment, make sure the fitness of your vehicle is up to date. If you think it is not worth spending more on your automobile, sell your junk car for cash and invest the proceeds in a new vehicle. With the amazing American economy (which will come back after the virus situation) that’s not out of the question.
Sell Your Junk Car for Cash and Buy a New One
If your car failed a smog test and you find that you’ll need to spend a fortune to get it repaired, then selling your junk car for cash might be a better idea.
It is most likely that your car has become too old, in which case no matter how much you spend on it, it will never become as good as new. So why not save your money and get a brand-new or maybe a used car that’s in a much better condition?
If you think your car has outlived its life span and will cost you an arm and leg to get it back in good condition, contact CashCarsBuyer. You don’t even have to leave your home, just call us or contact us online and our technicians will ensure you get the top dollar for your old car.