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Old 31st January 2005, 20:42   #1
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Default INFO : Emission Tests & Their Importance

[size=1]Q : [color=blue]Why is roadworthy/emissions testing important?[/color]

A : Millions of people around the world suffer and die every year from serious respiratory problems. Air pollution causes asthma attacks, and some doctors think it may be one of the things that causes people to have asthma in the first place. Air pollution also poses other serious health problems. Emissions testing keeps an eye on one of the largest contributors to air pollution in many areas: the automobile. In fact, studies by Colorado State University show that total vehicle emissions can be reduced to less than 50% of their previous levels by establishing an emissions testing program.

Q : [color=blue]What does the test measure?[/color]

A : Roadworthy tests are basic safety and pollution checks that generally incorporate emissions tests for cars and trucks. These tests measure pollutant emissions produced by the vehicle while driving. Most tests focus on hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide, but some also test for oxides of nitrogen (NOx). Each country that requires emissions testing has its own acceptable levels of these pollutants; when a vehicle's emissions exceed this level, it fails the test.

Q : [color=blue]How does it work?[/color]

A : There are three basic levels of equipment:

[color=blue]=>[/color] Older testing equipment measures emissions while the car is idling in Park or Neutral. The tailpipe is hooked up to a machine that captures the emissions the car produces and measures the levels of the pollutants produced.

[color=blue]=>[/color] Newer tests, sometimes called the IM/240 test, are performed using a dynamometer, or "dyno." Dynos are kind of like treadmills for cars; they allow the test operator to sit inside the car and "drive" it on a set of rollers that keep the car in one place but allow it to accelerate up to about 57 miles per hour. Like the older version of the test, the tailpipe is hooked up to a machine that captures and measures the emissions produced by the vehicle. This is a more accurate test, because it measures the emissions actually produced when the car is being driven, not just when the car is idling.

[color=blue]=>[/color] The latest tests use the vehicle's on-board computer, called an "On-Board Diagnostics System" or OBD. Cars that have an OBD system get plugged into and scanned by the testing device. Yes, your car will tattle on itself. Actually, the original OBD systems were installed on cars during model years 1986-1995 in the United States. Vehicles manufactured since 1996 have a more sophisticated second-generation OBD system called OBD-2. Many testing stations also do a gas-cap test to make sure the cap seals properly to keep fuel vapors in the tank instead of releasing them in the air.

Q :[color=blue] What happens when a car fails an emissions test?[/color]

A : It varies by country (and by state in the U.S.), but in general if a vehicle fails the test, then the owner is required have it repaired. Many places tie the emissions test to the vehicle's registration, so if the person doesn't get the required repairs, the registration is not renewed. After the repair, the vehicle is re-tested. If it fails again, the cycle continues until the vehicle passes.

[color=blue]=> [/color]Some countries/states allow an owner to delay further repairs or - in some cases - an exemption from future tests if the owner has spent a certain amount of money (like $400 USD) on emissions-related repairs and the car is still failing. Low-income owners may be granted an extension or exemption after spending less than the standard requirement.

[color=blue]=> [/color]Also, some people own "classic cars" that are worth more money when they have all their original parts. Of course, many older models were built before emissions-reduction equipment was invented or included as standard on cars, so these vehicles tend to pollute a lot. Some places, because the value of these cars will go down if the car is altered by adding emissions-reduction equipment, grant the owners an exemption from emissions testing. Compared to the total number of cars on the road in most places, there aren't that many people driving classic cars, so exempting them from testing doesn't have a big impact on the clean air effort.

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