Failed smog test -- stuck in money pit

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  #1  
Old 06-19-09, 01:55 PM
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Failed smog test -- stuck in money pit

I took my 1999 Nissan Quest for a smog test and it passed everything but the ignition timing (10BDTC). A day later a certified mechanic adjusted my timing to 15 and did a major tuneup, oil change, etc. The NEXT day I went back to the smog station and the timing passed (now at 12 BTDC less than 24 hours after seeing it at 15 BTDC with the mechanic). Fine, but now all the emissions numbers have tripled and thus FAILED the inspection. All the other numbers remained the same or very close. I've spent hundreds or dollars already and can't afford a wild goose chase, and fear what huge repairs will be suggested on my car with 100,000 miles. How could my emissions numbers change so drastically in two days? Could the timing adjustment do that? Would the No (PPM) numbers really jump three times from two days earlier? Could it be as simple as my car wasn't warmed up enough that this time the NO numbers went from 500 to 1295, and 575 to 1490? Help, I've alerady spent more than $600 on car repairs in 2 days hoping to get this to pass.
 
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Old 06-19-09, 03:11 PM
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They do an actual specific test for engine timing?

It's been a quarter of a century since I had to worry about such testing stations. But I do not remember such a test back then. I thought it was just the emmissions numbers that concern them, and not actual specs about the engine. I thought that kind of stuff would be up to you, in the same way say what gap you choose for yourr spark plugs. Huh.
 
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Old 06-19-09, 03:20 PM
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I'm surprised there is any adjustment for the timing at all on a '99. Shouldn't that be computer controlled? Wondering what the Mech did to change it....
 
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Old 06-19-09, 06:08 PM
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timing increased but i still failed smog

Yep, the mechanic revved up the timing from 12 to 15, and it passed the timing on the second test (but at the test station it read a 12). But, perhaps because of the adjustment, the Nox (no ppm) then went way out of whack -- the emissions numbers were almost three times higher and failed the second test even thought they had passed on the first round. Now what? I started with one problem and ended with another...not to menation I'm out hundreds of dollars.
 
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Old 06-20-09, 02:26 PM
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I'm still perplexed, that they are even concerned about engine specs - as you'd think this is like a pandoras box for ---well?, do they check your tire pressure too? If that is not up to specs, that could cause you to burn more gas, and hence pollute more.
 
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Old 06-22-09, 03:38 PM
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Emissions numebrs fall dramatically after no work done

FOLLOWUP: Unbelieveably, another two days have passed and I took my car to a different smog and repair shop. They checked everything, found NOTHING wrong with my car and it passed with flying colors. Nox (NO PPM) numbers went from 1296 to 285 (15 mph) and from 1497 to 230.
How could they change so drastically in a couple of days with no one doing any work on the car? I spent an extra $200 on the car when nothing was wrong with it. Is it possible a 1999 Nissan Quest's computer must relearn the new parts after a tuneup? Or is that not necessary? Maybe the first smog place ran it too hot, which threw the numbers off? How is this possible?
 
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Old 06-22-09, 04:10 PM
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Absolutely..if the battery was disconnected (likely) then the car needs at least 30 miles or so of normal drivinge to adjust. Don't know whether replacing parts would do it..but I'd bet yes. Still like to know how he adjusted timing...don't think its possible on a 99
 
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Old 06-22-09, 04:27 PM
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any 3.0 or 3.3 that still has a distributor can be adjusted......

Unfortunately, the myth about changing timing no longer works for smog testing since the NOx test was introduced.....

What I did find out being an Inspector in an Emmissions state for quite a few years.... Your vehicle is tested against Fresh air to determine pollutants.......Where is there "Fresh air" in an Emmissions Inspection station?????Early in the morning when the shop first opens, the equipment will produce readings that are completely different from 5PM the day before after the place was smoked out......
 
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Old 06-22-09, 05:32 PM
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It could be something as simple as that particular station had a faulty meter! If it wasn't calibrated, or it was dropped, etc, it could easily cause a fault.
 
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Old 06-22-09, 11:19 PM
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OK, that's possible. I hope it wasn't that the Nox numbers were "adjusted" because I didn't go to the repair station next door where he suggested. Seems like a huge spread from one shop to another, but I suppose it might have been because I went too soon after the tuneup, or my car was too hot or too cold!
 
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Old 06-23-09, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Fishbear View Post
It could be something as simple as that particular station had a faulty meter! If it wasn't calibrated, or it was dropped, etc, it could easily cause a fault.
...and could have cost JPEG $200 for nothing! (I just fume inside over all this stuff.) Gotta love the gov't. They tell you you have to do this and that, causing you to shell out your money. Sure glad we do not have those (Gestapo)stations around here (yet).
 
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Old 06-23-09, 07:37 PM
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I have to agree with ecman; so the timing was out of spec - SO WHAT????? If an engine is putting out emissions in the proper range what possible difference would it make if the timing was set to 10-20-30 btdc, 10-20-30 atdc, or anywhere in between. What a crock.
 
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Old 06-23-09, 09:30 PM
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Back in the old days, you could Lower the HC/CO readings by retarding the timing, driving into the station, passing the test, driving around the corner and putting the timing back where it belongs.....

It does make a difference to HC/CO, but not NOx....

Basically , what the test looks for is NOT how much pollution your car emits, but how much UNBURNED fuel is present.

Think Campfire...Hot roaring 12 foot high campfire..produces no smoke. As it starts to whither away, the smoke gets heavier, as the chunks of unburned wood start to extinguish . Along comes Uncle AL with the big piece of cardboard to fan the fire...It roars back to life, and the smoke dissipates.

Same theory, If you have 1 oz of gasoline being injected into the engine....That WHOLE 1 oz should BURN...If it doesnt burn completely, it produces Hydrocarbons, which are basically the "Smoke" from the campfire...

Having said that.....A change in ignition timing , can concievably alter the amount of the fuel charge that is allowed to burn.
 
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Old 06-24-09, 08:58 AM
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This is all interesting. With cars, as complex as they are today -and with smog standards what they are today, due to more and more vehicles on the road today, racking up more miles - I wonder about what the average time it takes now to have the inspector do all the necessary tests they have to conduct at the testing station? And do you need an appointment? Or does that last question likely depend on what city or state you live in? Also, I wonder if any records are kept as to what these inspection stations cost car owners in repairs they otherwise would not have likely spent?
 
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Old 06-24-09, 09:42 AM
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There are two things that I have refrained from mentioning due to my proffession, and "Our" reputation amoung the general public.

Firstly, With the price of gas being thru the roof, It is in the publics better interest to have an efficiently running vehicle, regardless of how old , how big, or how Imported or domestic.The ability to pass a smog test is (Or at least should be) an indicator to the motorist that he is getting the proper amount of efficiency , compared to the cash leaving his wallet at the pump. In a nutshell, if you wont spend the cash to make sure it runs properly and efficiently, you'll be spending it at the pump.

Next, there are 3 types of mechanics in this world...Incompetent, dishonest , and Technician. Unfortunately, in my experience, the incompetent and dishonest are interchangeable. Lack of knowledge leads to dishonesty very quickly, when you were wrong, and you need to pay the bills anyway...Most dishonest mechanics didnt start out that way.
Im not trying to discourage the DIY crowd, or push the service industry down anyones throat...But....Just like the plumber, the electrician, or the doctor, There are times when there is just simply no substitute for a Competent proffessional. And that Costs. 9 times out of ten, if youre looking to save a buck, you will wind up spending two....And most of the "bad taste in your mouth" is because you chased the cheaper option instead of competence ,Knowledge, and trust.

To answer ECMAN, yes most of it depends on the state you live in, even down to which city, and then , which county... I dont need an emmissions test, but the other end of my community does.....Because it borders 2 townships...

Yes there are records of repairs kept, but the "Strictness" of how such records are kept and handled , also varies widely by location and local Jurisdiction.
 
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Old 06-24-09, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Unclediezel View Post
...But....Just like the plumber, the electrician, or the doctor, There are times when there is just simply no substitute for a Competent proffessional.
Good post, unc.

And it has been said that doctors can bury their mistakes - where with mechanics, the customer keeps coming back til it gets done right.
 
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Old 06-24-09, 11:17 AM
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i agree. good post.. i'm all to familiar with some of the "tactics" used by shops to separate people from their money. finding a good shop usually means it'll cost more up front. but peace of mind and the lack of frustration at bringing your car back over n over is worth the price.
 
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Old 06-24-09, 03:46 PM
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In my state, if you have to spend more than $600 (i think) to make your car emissions legal, you get exempted. Doesn't any other state do this?
 
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Old 06-24-09, 04:15 PM
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Yes most states do this....But it is a Waiver, not an exemption.

However, there are stipulations that really dont make it worthwhile in most cases. When I worked in NYC for example, There was a 650 $ waiver limit...but, the vehicle had to show a Viable improvement.....although it still doesnt pass, it must show an improvement of a minimum of 25% to obtain a waiver. The waiver came from the state, not the station....(There werent state run facilities in NYC , at least not at that time) and After you mailed in the reciepts, and a detailed account of what work was performed, and a copy of the "Improved " test results, it was evaluated by a State Technician. There was no way around fake reciepts or Incompetent repairs......

In most cases the $650 would have fixed the car properly in the first place, and if it didnt, it was usually too far gone to be considered for a waiver....
 
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Old 06-24-09, 04:30 PM
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Yeah..same sort of thing my SIL deals with in CA. Can't afford a newer car..old one failed smog. Spent something like $400-500..still didn't pass. Got some sort of waiver for a year or 2. She tried to do the sell it back to the state to get the dirty cars off the road. They said since she already got the waiver and assistance with the repair cost (another CA program)..it wasn't eligible for the buy back. So after the waiver expired she couldn't register it or legally drive it. Luckily (I guess) her daughter slammed it into something while trying to learn to drive and messed up the drivetrain.

She still doesn't have a car..over a year later. Can't find one she can afford that will pass smog.
 
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Old 06-24-09, 04:46 PM
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So they figure that if you are forced to spend $5-600 in their state on repairs, they call it even, and let you go (at least for a good while), eh? Huh.

Sounds like they are after money (directly and indirectly, since even high repair bills will yield more state tax money), and not necessarily ridding bad cars from the road. You'd think that if your car is a hopeless polluter, that they'd order you - like they order you with other stuff - to not drive that car.
 
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Old 06-26-09, 09:31 AM
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Wouldnt it be a better idea to make it so lawyers and politicians cannnot talk? I imagine this causes more pollution than cars. Be nice if the states realized that environmental friendliness is good, but what about those of us in the sticks who cannot afford a clean burning car and have no access to public transportation? My car flew through emissions last time it went through. I imagine the mileage allowance for the test helped in my case.
 
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Old 06-26-09, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by nightowlpunk View Post
Be nice if the states realized that environmental friendliness is good, but what about those of us in the sticks who cannot afford a clean burning car and have no access to public transportation?
Off-topic for once. Hopefully you are not trully serious (although it is fun to rant sometimes) since in civilized societies we have laws that do not bend to favor poor people. Because if they did, it be a free for all of allowing garbage to pile up on their property or burn it because poor people can't afford garbage - or allowing people to sleep all over the place in cars because they can't afford a motel - or to allow people to live in squalor in a ramshackle house in a nice neighborhood because that is all they can afford, etc., etc.
 
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