Tuesday, December 24, 2013

What to do when your car fails an emission test

So, you failed an emission test. You can no longer register your vehicle or receive your emissions compliance sticker until the test is passed...Or can you?

First let's see what happens next for most people. That is, figuring out the one or many problem reasons why the car did not pass and have them repaired. Then, return to the emissions test facility and hope you pass the second time. However, locating and repairing the problems within your car does not always go so smoothly; leaving you to bounce back and forth between test station and repair facility, spending lots of time and money.

So how can you save yourself from potential endless loop of repairs and test? How about with a loophole in the system. For states that require periodic emissions tests, you cannot drive your car unless it has passed the test or has met “waiver” requirements.

This waiver allows some vehicles to pass an emissions test even though they have not fully met all the applicable emissions requirements. However, the waiver is not exactly fair to all those who do take the proper steps to pass the test.

Waivers were created to help drivers who can afford to bounce back and forth between test station and repair shop and pay for all the repairs required to pass. Waivers give credit to those who apply and spend a designated fixed dollar amount on repairs, thus resulting in an automatic pass.
Fixed dollar waiver amounts vary from state to state and my model year of the vehicle. Limits can vary between as little as $75 to as much as $450. It is best to ask the testing facility to confirm the correct waiver amount.

Improving Your Odds of Passing
In an effort to save yourself the time and money associated with failing the emissions test, it is in your best interest to improve odds of passing it in the first place. There are several easy steps you can take prior to increase your odds. The first is step is to maintain a clean vehicle. Keeping all aspects of your vehicle clean, especially your engine, is the is a great step towards passing the emissions test. Changing spark plugs, air filters, fuel filters, PCV valves and oil regularly or just before the test can help you pass. Additionally, filling your tank with premium gasoline can help boost octane and help lower emissions. Finally, make sure your vehicle is at normal operating temperature before you take the test. Heating the car up will heat up the oxygen sensor and catalytic converter to minimize emissions.