How Is My Car Tested For Emissions?

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Emissions testing is quickly becoming the norm across the US as more and more states and counties realize the need to control and monitor emissions and air quality. However, the process for testing emissions can be confusing (and it varies depending on your location, as well as the age of the car you’re driving). How is your car tested for emissions?

OBD system

The vast majority of testing facilities use your car’s On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) system for all or the majority of the tests. Of course, this varies from one location to another, and your test may include more than checking the OBD system.

To check the system, a testing professional will connect your car’s computer to a diagnostic scanner. This scan tool is more powerful than those available to consumers, and can provide a great deal of information about your car’s engine and exhaust system, as well as vital emissions components. After checking the OBD system, the testing professional will either pass or fail your car. However, there may be another test required.

Tailpipe testing

Tailpipe testing is done to measure the gases produced in your vehicle’s exhaust. Your car may or may not need a tailpipe test – the test operator will tell you if it’s required for your car. This is an important test because 1) your car’s OBD system does not monitor gases, and 2) your car may be older than 1996, and may not have an OBD II system.

Gas cap testing

Some vehicles require a gas cap test. This is a test to determine if the gas cap is sealing correctly, or if the seal has deteriorated and gas fumes are escaping from the tank, which is an additional source of pollution.

Visual inspection

Your vehicle may also require a visual inspection of the exhaust system. Again, the test administrator will tell you if a visual inspection is needed. This test is conducted to determine the physical condition of your exhaust system components, which can be damaged by impact, as well as exposure to salt, water and temperature fluctuations.

Your emissions testing process will vary depending on where you live in the nation, as well as the age of your vehicle. If you live in a very rural area, or if you drive a hybrid or electric vehicle, you may not need emissions testing at all. Check your state’s Department of Transportation or Department of Motor Vehicles websites for more specific information.


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Eladio

8 years of experience
128 reviews
Eladio
8 years of experience
Honda Civic - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Greensboro, North Carolina
Eladio arrived at the scheduled time and was great to work with. He was very professional and I am very satisfied with his work. This was my first time using YourMechanic and I am very pleased with how easy and convenient this service has been from start to finish. Definitely would recommend.
Nissan Altima - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Greensboro, North Carolina
Eladio was on time, expedient, and very professional. Very pleased with provided service (brake shoes replacement).

Chris

13 years of experience
107 reviews
Chris
13 years of experience
Hyundai Sonata - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Port Richey, Florida
CHRIS IS THE BEST MECHANIC I HAVE EVER MEET IN MY LIFE. HE IS HONEST AND HE KNOWS HIS STUFF. VERY PROFESSIONAL AND KNOWLEDGEABLE. THANK YOU CHRIS!!!

Pardeep

19 years of experience
587 reviews
Pardeep
19 years of experience
Dodge Caravan - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Fremont, California
Pradeep was early to my appointment and during his work he showed me that I didn’t need rear brake shoes saving me money.He cleaned and serviced the existing shoes and he also adjusted my parking brake cable. Great job. I will always use Your mechanic for any car repairs.

Oreste

12 years of experience
117 reviews
Oreste
12 years of experience
Dodge Avenger - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Miami, Florida
Orestes is very professional. He explained what was done to my vehicle and suggested upcoming maintenance needed. Great person

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