With all of the thing’s vehicles require to be tested for before being deemed safe for the road, the smog check is one of the most important these days. Then there’s the whole factor of if your car doesn’t pass…then you’re going to be stuck with some hefty repairs, more DMV fees, and the inconvenience of having to wait longer to be on the road again. No one likes that. So, how can this chaos be avoided? Luckily for you, I am here to give you some pointers on preventing yourself from being frowned upon by the smog check police.
1. CHECK ENGINE LIGHT IS THERE FOR A REASON
I have been that person to stick a banana peel sticker over my check engine light in the past…don’t be me, it didn’t end well. When you take your car in to get checked for the smog test, the second they see that light on your car is automatically going to fail. No sticker will hide that reality. But fear not fellow commuter, most car workshops, and auto parts shops can help you out. Nowadays, there is equipment that can figure out exactly what is causing your check engine light to come on. Don’t put it off, if that light is glaring at you get it checked out before it mutates into something worse before you go for the smog test.
2. KEEP YOUR BATTERY CONNECTED
It happens sometimes where you have to disconnect your battery…like that time when I got my first car and spent a night in it watching movies on my tablet that was plugged into the cigarette lighter charger. Turns out…that kills your battery and then it needs a jump start, which means you have to disconnect it for a few minutes.
What happens is that there is a computer in your car and when it loses power is does what all computers tend to do. It deletes anything that wasn’t saved. The internal self-monitoring systems such as the emission monitor just kind of collapse for a while. So, if you had to jump your car or replace your battery, it’s best to give the cars computer about a week to get back to normal functioning before going for the smog test. It only takes about 100-200 miles on the road for the emissions monitor to get back in the game.
3. FRESH Oil IS YOUR FRIEND
Just like cooking fries in your deep fryer, you don’t want a bunch of crap floating around in there and contaminating the deliciousness of your food. Your car doesn’t want to have crap floating around in it either. There are all kinds of hydrocarbons in dirty oil that are likely to cause some issues when you go for your smog test. So, get that out of there and up your chances of success, plus your car will be grateful. While you’re getting your oil changed you might as well ask the technician to scope out if there are any cracked, disconnected or broken hoses on your engine too. Those are other evil contributors to a failed smog test.
4. DON’T WAIT UNTIL IT’S TOO LATE TO GET A TUNE UP
You’re definitely going to want to get a tune up before the test to make sure your engine isn’t spewing out all kinds of bad stuff. Like I mentioned above, the battery needs time to help your car get all its self-monitoring systems back up to par, so make sure to get tuned up at least a week or two before your smog test. It’s kind of like getting a fresh new pair of boots. You want to give them a little time to get worked in before they are comfortable enough for you to walk around like you’re on a cloud.
5. GET FILLED UP
The thing with a smog test is that it demands your car to keep your engine running at a high speed while it’s not moving. This means you’ve got less air pumping through your radiator to keep everything cooled down. You don’t want to put your car through that generally at any time without proper cooling going on, so make sure your coolant tank is fully stocked and prepared for its endurance run. Same thing goes for your gas tank. Having a low tank means that you fuel pump might be subjected to vapors making their way into the fuel line, which is bad news and might make your car give up on life entirely and fail on you and your smog test.
6. HIT THE GAS SO YOU CAN PASS
Now, I’m not a big fan of drivers who seem to be in some epic rush to get wherever they are going. However, in the case of an upcoming smog test, it’s a good idea to drive fast for two weeks before you go for your test. Crazy sounding? Not really. Why? Because science!
There’s a lovely little thing that lives in your engine called a catalytic convertor. Its purpose in life is to convert any harmful pollutants into, well, less harmful pollutants. In order for it to be able to do that, it needs to get hot. The best way to heat that baby up is to take the highways as much as possible for two weeks before the test so the catalytic converter can heat up and burn off those fatty pollutants just like a hard core workout would in a person’s body. This will nuke out oil and gas residue that has nowhere better to go while driving at speeds socially acceptable in town.
7. FIND OUT WHAT’S GOING ON IN ADVANCE
Obviously, the best thing you can do is to arm yourself with as much knowledge as humanly possible. Take your car in for an inspection before you need to get ready for the smog test. Giving yourself time to deal with any underlying issues is the best defense you can hope for. Usually the places you will need to go for your smog test will offer pre-inspections that run all of the same tests that they would for the smog test to let you know what needs fixing first before you go for the real thing. Best part of it is that they don’t record those pre-inspection results. It’s like the open book exam before the final exam. You’ll want that extra time to deal with any repairs that need doing because they might involve appointments and things that take a bit of time, so don’t leave it until the last minute, otherwise you might be in for some unpleasant surprises.
What happens during a smog check?
A trained technician must perform a smog check at a licensed smog shop. If you reside in California, you can get a smog check near Vacaville. There are four stages of a smog check:
1. Visual Examination
Your vehicle’s emission control systems and component are visually checked to confirm that they are correctly connected. This is usually the shortest part of the test.
2. Functional Inspection
The technician inspects your vehicle’s exhaust gas cap, ignition timing, fuel evaporation system, and check engine light. This step takes more time and is more in-depth. If all components function properly, your vehicle may proceed to the next stage of the test.
3. OBD Inspection
Modern cars have an On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) system which they use to self-diagnose and report problems within the vehicle. The technician obtains the required information from the OBD. The data is transmitted to the Bureau of Automobile Repair (BAR). Based on the information received, the BAR determines whether the vehicle is functioning properly. If so, the smog check moves on to the final stage.
4. Tailpipe Emissions Inspection
There is a permissible level of emissions that no vehicle may exceed. The emissions measured from the tailpipe include hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, and oxygen. If your vehicle fails any of the inspections, you will be advised on necessary repairs so it can pass when you try again. If your vehicle passes every step you will be issued a Certificate of Compliance. You will also receive a copy of the Vehicle Inspection Report for the smog check.
Why do I need a smog check?
Harmful emissions from vehicles have a negative impact on human health. It causes poor air quality which can cause serious illness. Vehicles also release Carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming. In California, climate change may lead to more hot months, and it can affect the agricultural sector among others. Regular smog checks are necessary to reduce and eventually eradicate these adverse effects.
Does my vehicle need a smog check?
In California, all vehicles manufactured after 1975 must undergo smog checks and receive a certificate every two years. This law also includes Hybrid cars. However, there are some exceptions to the California Smog Check Program:
Tips to pass a smog test
Well-maintained vehicles have a higher chance of passing the smog tests. If your vehicle is not running at optimum levels, you can make some small changes and checks to increase its chances of passing the test. Here are four tips to pass the smog check:
Regular smog checks ensure that your vehicle is not releasing excess pollutants into the air. Our Vacaville smog check stations will ensure your vehicle complies with all the requirements of the state of California.
California is the perfect place for smog. Although that isn't something we want to hear, it is the unfortunate truth. Here's why, the topography combined with the warm and sunny climate makes it perfect for forming and trapping air pollutants. When cities were first built, the majority of them were built in valleys and plains surrounded by mountains, which naturally collect the smog like a large bowl. Combine that with the huge varieties in temperature and moisture in the air and you get air pollutants that are trapped closer to the ground.
33 Million Californians. Lots of people, Lots of Pollution. The combined population of 33 million people in California on personal and business activities release thousands of tons of pollutants into the air every day.
Many air pollutants are created from the burning of petroleum-based products such as:
Others are created through evaporation from fuel storage, solvents and paint and consumer products containing aersosol paints, cleaning products and alcohols.
What is AA Smog Doing to Help? Personal and business automobile emissions are a major source of air pollution. These pollutants reach chemically in the presence of sunlight and have been proven to cause harm to our health. Thanks to California's smog check program, an estimated 400 tons of smog-forming emissions are removed from California's air each day.
With multiple locations throughout the Sacramento area including the counties of El Dorado, Placer, Riverside, San Bernadino, San Diego & Sonoma, we're doing our part to help inform the public whether their vehicle meets California's emission standards or if is in need of repairs.