Understanding What an Emissions Test Is

Understanding What an Emissions Test IsIn some states, you have to have your car regularly inspected. Part of that inspection should include an emissions test. If your vehicle is new, you may not have to worry as much. However, older automobiles may have trouble. Catching potential problems and fixing them in advance can save you time and frustration.

What Are Emissions?

To understand how an emissions test works, you first must understand what the technicians are looking for when examining your vehicle. Simply put, as your automobile uses fuel to power the engine, combustion takes place. What is left over from this process comes out of your vehicle’s tailpipe. Because of the toxicity of the outflow, inspectors must ensure that these gases are within certain levels.

What Does an Emissions Test Look For?

To perform this examination on your vehicle, the technician places a sampler into the tailpipe. This piece of equipment samples the exhaust coming from your engine and reads what the level of gases are in parts per million.

The equipment is set to sense or “sniff” five different types of gases: NOX, O2, CO, CO2 and HC. NOX is the term for oxides of nitrogen and is produced by heating and compressing air containing nitrogen. This compound is very toxic at high levels.

Oxygen is always found in the exhaust as there is always some unburned oxygen being admitted into the air. While this is not a harmful residue, O2 tells how well the engine burns through the fuel. Excessive amounts may indicate that the engine has been tampered with in order to pass the test with faulty equipment.

In addition to O2 and NOX, CO and CO2 are also tested for. CO, or carbon monoxide, is a well-known, colorless, odorless compound that is deadly. CO2, better known as carbon dioxide, is a leading cause of global warming.

The final compound tested for is HC or hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbon is unburned fuel. As with CO and NOX, HC is not something you want to breathe. It is the leading cause of smog seen in large cities.

How Can You Pass the Emissions Test?

Your car must be in fairly decent shape to pass the test. If you have not had a tune up in a while, it is important that you do so before your next inspection. Changing spark plugs, changing the oil, and having a fresh air filter can address many of the issues that your automobile may have. You should also ensure that your gas cap is free of cracks and that it fits snugly.

In addition, if your vehicle has a check engine light on, you will not pass the inspection. Be sure to take your vehicle in for service when this light comes on. There are many different reasons the light could be on, and not all of them are expensive fixes.

The emissions test is designed to help keep our environment clean. While it might seem like a hassle, having cleaner burning vehicles is better for everyone. In addition, you can be certain that your car is in great running condition and will be less likely to break down.