So it's time for your car's smog check. Don't panic. The process is relatively simple, and if you're worried you might not pass, there are some easy things you can do to get your car in shape.
What Does the Smog Check Include?
Every smog check has four basic components — a visual inspection, functional inspection, On-Board Diagnostic System inspection and the tailpipe emissions inspection. If you don't pass all four areas, your car will fail the smog check.
Visual inspection. This part of the test looks at your vehicle's emissions control systems. It's probably the quickest part of the test and simply verifies that the emissions equipment is still properly attached.
Functional inspection. Now your technician will check your check engine light, ignition timing, gas cap, fuel evaporation system and the exhaust gas re-circulation system. This portion takes much longer than the first as it is much more in depth. If any of these components aren't up to standard, the technician will fail your vehicle.
OBD inspection. For this section of the smog check, the technician will hook your car's internal computer up to a device to read the On-Board Diagnostic System's data. This will give them information on the condition of your vehicle's systems, parts and overall performance. This data will then be sent to the agency responsible for monitoring smog and car emissions, who will review it and determine if everything is working the way it should be.
Tailpipe emissions inspection. Last but not least, the tailpipe emissions. A device placed on the exhaust will let the technicians determine whether your car is producing more harmful components than allowed by the law. Emissions on the checklist include carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, oxygen and oxides of nitrogen.
What Happens After the Inspection?
Once you've finished the test, you should get a Vehicle Inspection Report detailing the data pulled from your car's computer. If you've passed your smog check, you'll also receive a certificate that allows you to register or re-register your vehicle. However, if you've failed, you're going to need to make some changes.
The report should list any required repairs, so look over it carefully and make an appointment at your local body shop. Make sure you bring the report to the shop with you so there's no confusion on what repairs are needed to bring your car into compliance.
How Can I Prepare for a Smog Check?
There are actually really simple things you can do to prepare your car for its smog check. For instance, if you're due for an oil change, make sure you get it done ASAP. If you've got dirty oil in the crankcase, it could release additional pollutants, which definitely increases your chances of failing the smog check. If your check-engine light is on, that's a big red flag. Having your check engine light on is an automatic failure for the smog check, so make sure you get that taken care of before you bring your vehicle in for the test.
Ensuring that your tires are properly inflated, getting a tune-up a few weeks before the test and using a fuel additive can also help give your car a boost during the smog check.
Do you need to complete any repairs ahead of your smog check? Give Auto Tek a call and we'll get you into the shop to take a look.