So, here in Ohio (in some counties) we have emissions testing. I suppose I’m in favor of this, what with decreasing pollution and all. The thing is this; my “new” car, the ’96 Maxima’s check engine light was on, and my temporary tags expire May 13. According to the Ohio EPA website, a vehicle automatically fails ECheck if the check engine light is on.
So, anyway… I get the codes from the ECU (Electronic Control Unit) and they are:
1) Front/Left O2 sensor… this isn’t too bad, it’s at least the easiest one to reach (~$75 for the part).
2) Knock Sensor… this one’s a fairly monumental PITA, it’s located in the “V” of the engine, under the intake manifold, thankfully I have small enough hands that it’s at least feasible without removing the manifold (~$115 for the part).
3) EVAP control system/Flow… this is one of those “jackpot” codes, could be any of about 12 different things, probably not terribly expensive, but potentially very time consuming to track down.
Hmm… this presents quite a dilemma, indeed. I decide to reset the ECU (and thus, the check engine light) and try my luck at the E-Check place; the worst that can happen is the car doesn’t pass, and that’s free!
So, I go, I pass (with flying colors), I pay my $19.50 and I’m reading the printout; it says “your vehicle received a tailpipe test because its OBD system was not ready”
I don’t know for certain why it (the On Board Diagnostics System/ECU) “was not ready”, but I have a strong suspicion it may have been because I just reset it. Somehow it just seems wrong that my car was WELL below the limits for hydrocarbons and NOx (like 1/10 of the allowable amount) but it would have failed had the “check engine” light been on.
What this all means that I now have plenty of time to address these issues, rather than knocking myself out trying to scrape together the money and get it done in the next month.
It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a bit of knowledge and a screwdriver!