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Emissions Problems


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I recently took my 92 es to get a smog scheck done in order to register it. In California, every chang of ownership requires getting a smog test done.

Unfortunatey, it failed. THe ppm for HC was 144 when idling, the max is 120. When at 2500 rpm, it measured 20 ppm.

Can anyone tell me what it could be, and how much it will cost? In CA, the seller is reponsible for making sure the car passes the smog check, so if there is a problem, the seller has to pay for repairs.

The people I bought it from recently had a 120,000 tune up done, in which they replaced the water pump, as well as other items, most notable being the idling bearing. Could this be the problem?

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I am assuming you have no check engine light showing, correct?

Do this in this order.

1. Run a bottle of fuel injector cleaner through on 1/2 a tank of gas. Run it through.

2. Just before you go to get inspected again, change your oil and filter.

3. Run the car on the highway, doing the speed limit for about 30 minutes and then drive right to the inspection place, have them test it ASAP, while the engine and cat. conv are HOT not warm.

You are only over limit by 16 ppm. If it still doesn't pass, then you start replacing items. (If the seller is paying then go for broke)

skp mentions the EGR valve....possible but I would expect a check engine light if it were malfunctioning. Like an O2 sensor, they work or don't work. When they don't work, you get a warning light. EGRs go for about $250.00 US each.

I would start with fresh spark plugs, throttle body cleaning, new air filter. If these are dirty, they won't necessarily set off the warning light.


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if they engine and catalytic converter aren`t fully warmed up it will fail.

as you wait in line for the test turn off all accessories,ac,etc. bring rpm up to 2000-2250 a couple minutes before the test.if the engine is in good working

order,ie tune -up,drives and idles good,you may have a failed catalytic converter.

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Thanks everyone for their imput! As it turns out, the place I had the test done at was actually trying to scam me, and did the test wrong!

They did the idle first, before the cat. con. warmed up, and that is why it failed!

As soon as the cat. con. Is warm, then it works perfectly!

i am not sure, and maybe someone knows- Can I get me money back because they did the test wrong? It was like $50.

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if you are sure they did the test wrong you should be able to get your money back but you will never know unless you ask.

try these steps.

1. go to the garage and ask for your money back. Speak with the manager and tell him what you found out. Show him the results of the tests done correctly. They may not have been trying to scam you. It may have been performed by an inexperienced technician. Tell them you will pursue the issue in small claims court and you will notify the DMV and the better business bureau if they do not resolve the issue immediately.....ie refund your money.

if no money:

2. send a certified "30 day letter" to the manager, asking again, and state particulars of the meeting you had in person. Clearly state that if your request is not met within 30 days, then you will proceed with litigation in small claims court. State that you will still report this garage to the better business bureau and the DMV. If you have a friend or relative that is a lawyer, have them write the letter for you on their letterhead. Just the sight of that usually will acheive the results you seek.

if no money:

3. file a suit in small claims court. If you go to court, you will need absolute evidence that they performed the test in the wrong order and that you made no modifications to the car to get it to pass when the test was performed correctly. This won't even go past pretrial arbitration. If you win, they will even have to pay your filing fee. (usually about $20).

good luck.


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what stevie j said is a much better solution

the only thing i might add it

arm yourself with knowledge before going to the shop

speak to the dmv and see what they have to do before a test as in if the have to make sure the cat is up to par

i know with my 94 at idle i can still touch the exhaust even though the engine is at temp

as the exhaust is very cool compared to most cars

might save a few steps

good luck

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