4 Things You Need to Pass an OBDII Inspection

January 27, 2012

All cars built after 1996 are equipped with OBD II (On Board Diagnostics 2nd Generation) emissions control systems. Now every state in the US requires OBD II cars to pass a periodic emissions test in order to be licensed for road use. An emissions test can be a stressful experience if you don't know what you should expect or you're not sure what you need to be prepared. Here are a few things you should have in order to make your emissions test go as smoothly as possible.

Your Information

Of course you're going to need to bring along your current registration as well as your identification along when you go to the test site. It's also a good idea to bring along your proof of compliance from your last test. For example, when a vehicle is tested in California the driver is given proof of his or her vehicle's CARB compliance. Having this with you establishes your vehicle's history and provides a reference to the last time the car was tested.

A Well Maintained Vehicle

Many people don't know this, but one of the most important parts of passing the emissions test in an OBD II vehicle is actually performed by connecting the engine computer to the equipment at the emissions inspection station and allowing it to verify its own diagnostics. One thing that this means is that any vehicle with its "check engine" light illuminated will not pass an emissions test. Any time that and OBD II equipped car has the check engine light illuminated, this means that one of the vehicle's emissions control sensors is "out of range" (not working properly) and this will show when the emissions check station runs its scan. If your car's check engine light is on or even has been on at all recently, you will want to have a scan run on your vehicle's engine computer before you go in for your test. Having a scan run is simple and many mechanic shops and car parts retailers will do this for free. (Hint: Don't get too worried if your check engine light is illuminated. There is a chance that it isn't anything serious. The check engine light can be activated by something as simple as a gas cap that hasn't been properly tightened.)

Plenty of Time

When you know that your vehicle is up for an emissions inspection, don't put it off. Although the bulk of emissions tests go smoothly, occasionally there may be a problem with your vehicle that needs to be addressed. If you wait until the last minute, you might find yourself trying to correct problems at the last minute. You don't want your tabs to expire while you're trying to iron out problems with an emissions test.

Knowledge of Your Local Regulations

Study up on your local regulations and make sure you know the basics of your laws before you go in. This can be especially helpful if you're pinching pennies. Example : In WA state if a vehicle fails its emissions test, the car owner can get a temporary exemption if they have $200 worth of emissions related repairs done at a state-certified shop.

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