How to Prepare for a Vehicle Emissions Test

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How to Prepare for a Vehicle Emissions Test


Most states require some form of emissions testing to ensure that your vehicle is not emitting a surplus of polluting substances and that your vehicle’s emission control components are functioning properly and optimally. Surprisingly, not all states require emissions testing, but the number of states that do not continues to decrease as the country moves more toward reducing its carbon footprint. States with large populations and highly-trafficked areas are the most likely to require an emissions test. If you fail to pass your emissions test, you’ll be required to repair and replace the vehicle’s components responsible for the failure, and a refusal to do so can lead to various fines, fees, and other penalties, so it is recommended that you prepare your vehicle properly prior to the test to assure that you pass the first time. To increase the likelihood of passing, ask yourself these key questions.


Is My Check Engine Light (CEL) On?


One of the most popular issues that people run into, and a common reason people fail their emissions test is because their check engine light is on. The CEL illuminates yellow, and in driving school, we are taught that yellow dashboard lights represent an issue with the vehicle; however, the issue isn’t a complete emergency, and is something we should look into when we have the chance. As such, it is easy to overlook this yellow, submarine-looking light, and you can drive your car for thousands of miles more and be issue free with this light on. Unfortunately, though, if this light is illuminated at the time of your emissions test, you automatically fail, no excuses, no second chances, you fail. So it is important to determine why the light came on, what needs to be repaired or replaced, and to take care of the underlying issue that your vehicle is experiencing. Finding out the “why” your CEL light came on can be done yourself or by most auto body shops and auto parts stores. It is as simple as purchasing a low-cost diagnostic code scanner, plugging it in directly to the car’s computer (which can be found under the dash), scanning, and translating the code(s) displayed. Typically, these scanners will come with a booklet that explains the significance of each and every possible code; however, if your’s does not, it is as easy as Googling the code (since the internet has an answer for pretty much everything these days) to determine the issue(s) your vehicle is experiencing. A lot of the time, the CEL will come on for a minor issue like a damaged spark plug wire, a damaged gas cap seal, or a faulty oxygen sensor. So, please, save yourself some time (and money), and take care of any CEL-related issues prior to your emissions testing.


Is My Air Filter Clean and Clog Free?


Another thing that may be overlooked prior to an emissions testing is your vehicle’s air filter. Believe it or not, however, a clogged air filter can result in a failure. Fresh air is essential in creating cleaner combustion, and a clogged air filter will limit the amount of fresh air that is getting to your vehicle’s engine. Replacing an air filter is a quick and easy fix, and it can be done without any professional help. Simply look up and find the size and type of air filter your vehicle requires, open up the air filter housing, pull the old out and replace with the new. It really is that easy. Furthermore, there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube for changing a car’s air filter for those of you who are more visual learners.


Is My Car Driven Enough?


Yes, a lack of driving can greatly impact your vehicle’s readiness for an emissions testing. A vehicle driven too little can actually result in a failure, so it is important to get some driving in prior to testing (seems a bit counterproductive, doesn’t it?). A vehicle not driven enough can produce a “not ready” (for testing) reading when scanned. If your vehicle can’t be scanned, you will be declined for testing, and forced to reschedule the test. What’s more, you may lose your inspection fee too. So make the process more convenient for yourself, save some time and money by driving your vehicle 20-25 miles before your test, so that the vehicle can conduct all of its self-checks and you can pass with flying colors.


Did I Recently Change My Vehicle’s Oil?


Tainted, old, contaminated oil can have an impactful influence over whether or not you pass your emissions test. It varies from vehicle to vehicle, so it is crucial that you stay on top of your vehicle manufacturer’s oil interval recommendation. Most newer cars require an oil change every 5,000 miles, so if the last time you had your vehicle’s oil changed was 9,000 miles ago, you should certainly have that replaced to ensure that your vehicle is not spewing out high levels of hydrocarbons. Furthermore, failure to replace your engine oil in regular intervals leads to premature wear on various components of your vehicle. There’s no excuse not to have your oil changed regularly, and it is something you can do yourself or have done at a trusted auto repair shop.


In Conclusion…


By asking yourself these four key questions, and ensuring that each component has been taken care of, you will almost certainly pass your emissions test the very first time. Regular check-ups and tune-ups serve as important preventive maintenance measures that also decrease the likelihood of an emissions testing failure. At Krietz Auto, we can perform this preventive maintenance, fix any issues related to the check engine light, change air filters, replace engine oil, and much, much more. Save yourself the time and money, and keep your vehicle running optimally for years and years to come with Krietz Auto’s award-winning service department. Schedule your Krietz Auto Service Appointment today:

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