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Thread: The future of emissions testing

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    The future of emissions testing

    As someone who resides in California you would hope that this state would follows the others. But somehow California will likely find a need to test the emissions of the lithium battery in a Nissan Leaf.
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    Emissions testing of passenger vehicles will end on December 31, 2019 in Washington state. It ends on April 1st in Ontario. Emissions testing was no longer required in 26 North Carolina counties starting December 1, 2018. British Colombia's "AirCare" passenger vehicle testing ended in 2014. Alaska ended emissions testing in 2012.


    There are multiple uplifting stories here. Air quality has improved! Fewer vehicles fail emissions testing! Government programs that have outlived their usefulness are eliminated! Car manufacturers design and build great vehicles! Use the money you no longer have to spend on testing fees to buy your own OBD II scan tool and check for emissions and other trouble codes whenever you want, from the comfort of your own garage!


    Since 1996, cars have been required to have OBD II computers with standardized access ports. That probably marked the beginning of the end for government mandated emissions testing. The number of jurisdictions that still require emissions tests will probably continue to drop over the coming years.


    Many emissions testing stations gradually stopped using dynamometers and exhaust probes and simply began plugging scan tools into OBD II ports. Why buy and maintain a bunch of expensive tools to test declining numbers of pre-1996 cars? The potential impact of a relatively small number of old cars on air pollution was statistically insignificant. Many states gradually stopped testing pre-OBD II cars.


    If there were OBD II trouble codes, the check engine light on the dash should have already informed the driver long before he/she rolled into an emissions testing station. Most drivers learned ignoring a check engine light for too long can increase repair costs or the risk of being stranded. Florida, Kentucky, Michigan and Minnesota actually ended their emissions testing programs in the late '90s, a few years after OBD II was required on new cars.


    Some emission control systems of the '70s look a lot like parts clumsily tacked onto engines designed in the '60s. Those days are long gone. Over the years, it has become increasingly hard for parts manufacturers and RockAuto to classify Emissions parts separately from Fuel & Air parts, Ignition parts, Engine parts, Electrical parts or even performance parts. "Emissions" parts like Knock Sensors and Mass Air Flow Sensors help control emissions, but they also help optimize engine performance, fuel economy and durability. The Variable Valve Timing Sprocket (cam phaser) is definitely an engine part because the valve train will not work without it, but isn't it also an emissions part because it helps eliminate the need for an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valve? Catalytic Converters are one of the few remaining distinct emissions parts, but they are also part of the exhaust system. ("Exhaust & Emission" is where to find them at RockAuto.com.)


    Emission systems on vehicles built this century frequently are blended with other critical systems that have to work properly or the engine will not run at all. There is less need for emissions testing if a broken "emissions system" means the engine cannot even propel the car to a testing station. It is great news that better engine performance, fuel economy and emissions have frequently become complementary rather than competing vehicle design goals.


    Tom Taylor,
    RockAuto.com
    '64 Lark Type, powered by '85 Corvette L-98 (carburetor), 700R4, - CASO to the Max.

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    There is an existing thread on this. Perhaps they can be combined.
    Gary L.
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    I did a search under the word "emissions" and only found a few. None were (by title) specific to the ending of emission testing. If I can be directed to the applicable post I'll transfer this and delete it. Thanks.
    '64 Lark Type, powered by '85 Corvette L-98 (carburetor), 700R4, - CASO to the Max.

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    No disagreement with the basic argument, but unless the federal law has been changed, the federal subsidy to the states for highway construction still depends on the state's implementation of air quality initiatives, of which emissions testing is the primary. States/localities can obtain waivers if they can prove to the EPA that they are taking other pollution-reduction actions (rapid transit, bike lanes, etc) and/or that the proposed action will not have a significant impact on air quality. For example, a lot of states have gotten EPA permission to stop testing vehicles older than a certain year on the grounds that the older cars represent only a small percentage of the total vehicle fleet. And I expect nearly all to soon stop using the notorious dynamometers for testing pre-1996 (non-OBD2) vehicles -- if they haven't already.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wittsend View Post
    I did a search under the word "emissions" and only found a few. None were (by title) specific to the ending of emission testing. If I can be directed to the applicable post I'll transfer this and delete it. Thanks.
    I can understand that. It was probably one of many threads that have a topic heading that gives no clear idea as to the subject.

    EDIT: I thought about this and possibly I was incorrect. It may be that I read this item somewhere else on the Internet and thought that it was here.
    Last edited by studegary; 02-10-2019 at 10:34 PM.
    Gary L.
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    I think this article was in a Hagerty newsletter.
    Howard - Los Angeles chapter SDC
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    Quote Originally Posted by brngarage View Post
    I think this article was in a Hagerty newsletter.
    That is possible. I do not receive the Hagerty newsletter, so that is not where I saw it.
    Wittsend's posting indicates that it is from Rock Auto.
    Gary L.
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    Golden Hawk Member Dick Steinkamp's Avatar
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    Even the Tesla Model 3 has an emissions testing mode...

    https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q...4&&FORM=VRDGAR
    Dick Steinkamp
    Bellingham, WA

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    President Member 345 DeSoto's Avatar
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    The State of Florida has NEVER had a vehicle inspection of ANY kind...and the air is as clean and clear as it can be

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    Quote Originally Posted by 345 DeSoto View Post
    The State of Florida has NEVER had a vehicle inspection of ANY kind...and the air is as clean and clear as it can be
    The pollution gets blown out over water, either east or west .
    Now that Florida has more residents than New York, perhaps the pollution situation will change.
    Gary L.
    Wappinger, NY

    SDC member since 1968
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    Like Gary said, both climate and geography play a big role. Los Angeles gets frequent temperature inversions that capture the air pollution at ground level. And the Northeast and mid-Atlantic areas get a lot of pollution blown in from the midwest to add to the stuff produced locally.

    Maybe worth mentioning: emissions testing is generally required only in local (cities, counties) areas that don't meet emissions standards. The rest of state can generally ride free.
    Last edited by Skip Lackie; 02-12-2019 at 03:55 PM. Reason: typo

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    President Member 345 DeSoto's Avatar
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    STUDEGARY - I highly doubt it...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skip Lackie View Post
    Like Gary said, both climate and geography play a big role. Los Angeles gets frequent temperature inversions that capture the air pollution at ground level. And the Northeast and mid-Atlantic areas get a lot of pollution blown in from the midwest to add to the stuff produced locally.

    Maybe worth mentioning: emissions testing is generally required only in local (cities, counties) areas that don't meet emissions standards. The rest of state can generally rides free.
    The greater Los Angeles area is basically a "C" shape open on the ocean end. Having grown up in the San Gabriel Valley (specifically the city of San Gabriel) I had my fair share of smog from '67 to '77. And given I was a cross country/track athlete only increased the problem. However, the past 42 years I have lived about 50 miles west - northwest of L.A. I can't recall a day that smog has bothered me. Hence my objection to the testing (where I live). Yet we get tested with the same test Los Angeles gets.

    Skip is correct (at least here in California) there are three levels of smog testing. The greatest a bi-annual OBD 2 scan for current to 2000 cars. 1999 to 1976 cars have to go on the rolling dyno and 1995 to 1976 cars need an extra ($15-ish) Evap Test. 1975 an older car have no smog test. The least strict is in low population, outlying towns that only require a smog test on change of ownership for 1976 and up cars. Somewhere in between (medium sized towns) is the bi-annual rolling dyno test for current to 1976 cars. Oddly this seems a stricter test than the OBD 2 scan in the high population areas. Here is a California smog test map for those interested. https://bar.ca.gov/pdf/Program_Map.pdf
    '64 Lark Type, powered by '85 Corvette L-98 (carburetor), 700R4, - CASO to the Max.

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