Step 4. Drive your vehicle for one week under normal driving conditions. During this period the emissions computer is gathering data and re-learning your vehicle's emissions components and systems. The emissions computer OBDII (on-board diagnostics) system must complete at least one drive cycle (in some cases two or three). A drive cycle is a sequence of internal tests which the emissions computer runs while your vehicle is being driven. This insures all emissions systems are functioning properly. Proper "readiness flags" are set as the computer completes it's cycles. Test cycles are unique to a vehicle. Certain cycles run under very strict parameters, and may require extended driving time to trigger on. Cycle data and readiness flag information is available through your dealership's service department. The data vary widely.
- During your drive, maybe even as soon as you start the engine, your vehicle realizes an emissions fault, and turns on the Check Engine or Service Engine Soon light.
- Emissions computer refuses to set a required readiness flag. No check engine light, but no chance of passing the emissions test either. However, you will not know this until your vehicle is smog tested. If the particular emissions test center doesn't offer a free re-test, you forfeit your inspection fee.
Step 5. Take the smog test. Important Note! Your vehicle might not be completely ready for the smog check inspection. Required parameters may have not been set by the emissions computer.
- Your vehicle might not be ready for the emissions test. There will be no way of knowing this until the smog test is complete. Your normal driving pattern (if not for an extended length of time) may have failed to trigger the emissions computer tests needed to set the required readiness flags.
Passing the Emissions Test - What are my chances of passing the emissions test after resetting the emissions computer and turning off the service engine soon light or check engine light?
A slight chance of passing the emissions test after a reset does exist, but it is very slim. The trick is to get your vehicle smog checked before your engine computer detects the check engine light illuminating trouble code, and only after the required readiness flags have set. The chances of the engine computer setting the required readiness flags before detecting the trouble code and illuminating the check engine light are slim to none. And so our opinion... time is better spent finding a reputable smog check repair station to diagnose the check engine or service engine soon light, then time spent trying to avoid detection and/or repairs.
Even after evading check engine trouble detection, passing the emissions test will require your vehicle's exhaust sample, which will be collected by the smog machine, fall within California Air Resource Board specifications, and all required emissions components be functioning properly. Passing the entire smog test requires your vehicle pass the visual, functional, and emissions portions of the test. One may be able to hide trouble code information by deleting data, but the vehicle's exhaust will not be able to hide high emissions.
Important Note: California law allows only a vehicle's registered owner or a State certified smog repair station conduct emissions related repairs. We recommend you insure the auto repair shop you visit is smog check certified. Smog check investigators will not get involved with faulty emissions repairs performed at non-emissions certified auto repair shops. Nor will they reimburse your costs if you end up applying for the CAP assistance program.
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