The Best Tool For Car Mechanics to Check Evaporative Emissions Leaks | YourMechanic Advice

The Best Tool For Car Mechanics to Check Evaporative Emissions Leaks

Today's cars, trucks, and SUVs are all equipped with advanced emissions control and monitoring systems. A leak or failure in any of these components can cause a vehicle to fail smog inspections, reduce engine efficiency, and also impact fuel economy. When this occurs, vehicle owners often reach out to mechanics to find the source of their emission leaks quickly. This process is expedited when the mechanic utilizes an evaporative smoke machine to accurately diagnose the emission leaks.

What is an evaporative smoke machine?

Emissions leaks are typically caused by a loose fitting vacuum line or a line that has cracked. However, with multiple lines and fittings controlling the emissions systems on today's modern cars, trucks, and SUVs, pinpointing the precise location of the leak is tedious and time consuming. Most ASE-certified mechanics utilize an evaporative smoke machine to discover the exact location of the leak. The machine itself is powered by either traditional shop air or nitrogen-charged air systems, which are becoming more popular in service stations that provide tire service.

The machine attaches to an EVAP purge solenoid, which is commonly located near the driver's front strut, next to the engine itself. It sends a mixture of air and a colored dye into the evaporative emissions lines when the system is activated. If there are leaks due to cracked hoses or loose fittings, the colored smoke will purge and permit the mechanic to find the leak quickly. Most EVAP smoke machines have a variable smoke flow system and automatic shut of solenoids that restricts the flow of colored smoke to the desired setting for the mechanic.

How to correctly use the evaporative smoke machine correctly

In order for the EVAP smoke machine to properly diagnose a leak in the emissions system, the mechanic will have to fine-tune the process based on the vehicle's make, model and year. In general, the EVAP system has two line attachments: one that runs to the back of the vehicle near the gas tank and one that runs towards the fuel injector system. To find a leak in the emissions system, the mechanic should complete the following steps:

  • Download error codes from the ECM

  • Once the error codes show up as having a minor or major leak in the emissions system, the mechanic will prepare the vehicle for the evaporative smoke test.

  • Hook up the EVAP smoke machine correctly. This will include attaching the primary line to the emissions hose that runs to the back of the vehicle.

  • Next, in order to block the line, use a set of vice grips to pinch off the EVAP line located next to the leak detection pump, next to the gas tank.

  • Activate the smoke machine

  • When the machine is turned on, any leaks will be displayed by smoke that will blow through the broken hose, or connector that is loose.

The correct use of the EVAP smoke machine will reduce the time of diagnosing emissions leaks significantly, while also streamlining the process of completing repairs. Not only does this machine permit a mechanic to quickly repair emissions leaks, but it also increases dependability and reliability, which improves the customer's confidence in the mechanic's ability to do the job right – the first time.

There are several quality tool companies that sell these systems directly to mechanics that depend on them to service their customer's vehicles. If you’re already a certified mechanic and you’re interested in working with YourMechanic, submit an online application to work for YourMechanic for an opportunity to become a mobile mechanic.


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Travis

12 years of experience
425 reviews
Travis
12 years of experience
Ford Escape - Smoke from engine or exhaust - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Travis is alway on time or early, very friendly, and doesn’t try to recommend things unless they need to be done.
Jeep Grand Cherokee - Smoke from engine or exhaust - Hudson, Wisconsin
Travis came and diagnosed an issue I was having with an engine I just replaced. He was very knowledgeable and went above and beyond to answer any questions I had and was very thorough with his inspection. I would recommend him to anyone I know and would definitely give him a call in the future if I need any more assistance or advice.

Jonathan

34 years of experience
395 reviews
Jonathan
34 years of experience
Kia Sorento - Smoke from engine or exhaust - Brandon, Florida
As a first time user at YourMechanic.com, it was absolutely fantastic for me that Jonathan was the one sent to diagnose my vehicle issue. I felt very much at ease from the outset due to his easygoing manner. He was very detailed, as well as patient, when explaining (and illustrating) the problem, the solution and what repairing the issue entailed. I would definitely recommend Jonathan for 1st time users (or any users of YourMechanic for that matter). As I’m not sure if I will get the work done at this point, I will definitely request Jonathan if I decide to do so.
BMW 330Ci - Smoke from engine or exhaust - Port Richey, Florida
I can’t believe how patient Jonathan was when I started “grilling” him. He was knowledgeable & thorough.

Luis

17 years of experience
237 reviews
Luis
17 years of experience
Nissan Xterra - Smoke from engine or exhaust - Teaneck, New Jersey
Luis was great! He gave me a very honest assessment of what my car needed. I would definitely recommend using him!

Nai

15 years of experience
19 reviews
Nai
15 years of experience
Cadillac Eldorado - Smoke from engine or exhaust - Oakland, California
The mechanic came to my house good job appreciate it and if I need him I will call him again he's really good

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