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.