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Old 10-28-2011, 02:05 PM   #1 (permalink)
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State emissions test

I've taken cars for emissions testing in a couple states, but needed to do the Lotus for the first time this year. The forum provided some helpful hints on what to expect, though a number of users were in the same boat as me, i.e., "here's what it was like in my other car." Since I just completed this process a few days ago, I'll tell you exactly how it goes.

Washington State

The requirement is basically every two years for most cars 5 to 30 years old in certain high-population counties. 2009+ models Cali compliant are exempt. I've been used to taking my '91 Subaru for testing in the heat of summer with no AC. It involved shutting the car off, testing the gas cap, driving it onto rollers, having a probe put into the exhaust pipe, exiting the car, and letting the attendant bring it up to a certain speed to complete the sniffer test. I didn't even know they could use OBD until my wife's newer car came due.

So, in the Lotus the other day... Step one was to get a ticket from the automated booth in the entryway. Uh, I couldn't reach it. There was no line; I looked up and someone was motioning me forward into a particular lane, though he didn't realize I didn't get the ticket yet. I put down the window and told him so. No matter.

The attendant wanted to open the door and scan a bar code which apparently was not there. I had my barcoded registration handy and that worked just fine.

At this point, I expected a gas cap test. It wouldn't have been an issue as there's no locking cap on these cars, but I swear it wasn't done. Oh well.

Now the car is shut off and he's holding the OBD plug and looking inside. I indicated the connector's location with my right hand and offered to take the plug from him with my left, not knowing if this was acceptable. No problem there. I plugged it in myself and started the car.

Just a few seconds later, all was done. I unplugged the unit, handed it back to him, and he handed me the result sheet.

Before driving forward (past those intimidating rollers), I asked if there was any danger of scraping bottom. By now, the next vehicle was a few feet behind me and backing up wasn't an option. He said it wouldn't be an issue and it wasn't. And I'm good for the next two years.

So, that's Washington state. Other states may be very similar, but feel free to tell your own story. Hope this helps someone, at least with being mentally prepared.
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Old 11-22-2013, 01:53 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Two years later, and the exact same emissions test pissed me off to no small degree. This time, the employee made me exit the car and stand off in a little booth while he tended to the emissions test. My wife was left in the passenger seat which was a godsend because this guy had no idea how to operate the vehicle. All I have to say is it's a damn good thing turning the key while the car is running doesn't damage it because he sure as hell tried.
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Old 11-22-2013, 03:09 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Well the good thing is that you passed!
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Old 11-22-2013, 03:24 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Massachusetts: Drive in, plug in OBD, say "yes, you can take pictures with my car", pay $29, get sticker, drive to the street, remove front plate and put in the trunk, go home.
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Old 11-22-2013, 03:39 PM   #5 (permalink)
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In NJ, it's solely OBD.

Last time, the inspectors mentioned I had no frt plate. "Yes, I know."

Passed me.

I began to think car could have been on fire, but if OBD port & test worked properly, it'd pass.

----

We get different color windshield stickers each time.

I like to wait until they've scraped off the old sticker and have the new one in hand…

"Wait, I hate that color! What other colors can I get????"

Funny looks on their faces….
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Old 11-22-2013, 03:57 PM   #6 (permalink)
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1. Re-flash ECU to replace REV400 performance tune the with the OBD friendly tune.
2. Test OBD at the inspection station, she passes with flying colours!
3. Car goes on suspension lift, they pull one tire, check suspension, brakes in that wheel well.
4. Check all lights, horn, get inspection guy to help you to position the new inspection sticker, centered properly for the correct funky off center look (must be high up, behind mirror +/-).
5. Re-flash REV400 performance tune into ECU.
6. Zoom Zoom.

My inspection place - the people prefer I stay in the car, do all the plugging in etc. They work on alot of fancy stuff - they figure its better that way.
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Lotus Elise #134 - S O L D BOE REV400 street car built at BOE in KC. , Stock motor, low boost w/stock cat/mani, 292whp, (5.95 lbs/hp) passes all 50 states emissions/OBD, BOE ST exhaust, ACT HDSS, BOE Clam Hinge, BOE Oil Cooler Relocation, BOE Surge Tank/750cc injectors, BOE Race Links, MWR Rear Lift Kit etc. 0-100 = you bet!
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Last edited by komiko; 11-22-2013 at 04:03 PM.
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Old 11-22-2013, 05:53 PM   #7 (permalink)
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My inspection place - the people prefer I stay in the car, do all the plugging in etc. They work on alot of fancy stuff - they figure its better that way.
That is a typical CYA move! I remember when DSL first came out from ATT. I was working a fireman's schedule: 12 hour days, 3 days on/3 days off. I installed DSL on my days off for extra $$$$. When they trained us they emphasized that the customer MUST turn on, then turn off, then turn on their computer. They had just bought a client a new computer because they couldn't prove that the computer was working properly when they started. The shop is doing the same thing. Having you being pro-active in the process so they don't have to pay big $$$ for something that was broken before they touched.
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Old 11-23-2013, 02:28 AM   #8 (permalink)
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sure - plus it makes everyone feel more comfortable too. I know these guys, they really appreciate the car. They are an "imports only" shop, but where i live that usually means they are working with a Subaru or Honda. I only go there to get tires mounted on rims, and inspection.
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Lotus Elise #134 - S O L D BOE REV400 street car built at BOE in KC. , Stock motor, low boost w/stock cat/mani, 292whp, (5.95 lbs/hp) passes all 50 states emissions/OBD, BOE ST exhaust, ACT HDSS, BOE Clam Hinge, BOE Oil Cooler Relocation, BOE Surge Tank/750cc injectors, BOE Race Links, MWR Rear Lift Kit etc. 0-100 = you bet!
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http://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f160...seline-114302/
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Old 11-23-2013, 08:44 AM   #9 (permalink)
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For the Colorado emissions test the employees are instructed not to let you be anywhere near the car. They do a sniffer test with the car on rollers every two years plus an OBD-II and gas cap check.

It's actually pretty stressful overall - there's a lot of potential for an employee to make a mistake and little recourse if they do. Plus nobody wants to be there and the program keeps getting marked as an ineffective waste of money, so the employees are all afraid of losing their jobs while the "clients" are all harried and grumpy.

If you drive past enough roadside sniffer vans at the right speed/throttle position/phase of the moon/temperature you'll get exempted from your next emissions test but still have to pay a $25 fee. It's definitely worth it but the vans are fiddly and there's no way to tell if you've succeeded until your next registration is due.

There's no safety inspection beyond the inspectors feeling safe putting the car on the rollers, accelerating it, and taking it off.

My test was pretty straightforward. I disabled the immobilizer and told them upfront about the location of the OBD-II port. I also took the top off to help them get in and out.

They had the skinniest person at the emissions place do it since I don't think some of the techs would fit. She had some trouble with the push-to-start and finding reverse to get it on the rollers correctly, but she was very respectful and gentle with the car and asked rather than breaking things.

The car cleared the rollers fine and they were able to bring it up to the required 3000rpm and back with no issue.

Sometimes the inspectors will try to do paperwork after the test using your car as a clipboard (boo!), but the Elise with no roof has few enough surfaces that they didn't bother and used a proper clipboard.

Nobody questioned the paper VIN, I gave them my $25, and was on my way.
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Old 11-23-2013, 10:57 AM   #10 (permalink)
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For the Colorado emissions test the employees are instructed not to let you be anywhere near the car. They do a sniffer test with the car on rollers every two years plus an OBD-II and gas cap check.

It's actually pretty stressful overall - there's a lot of potential for an employee to make a mistake and little recourse if they do. Plus nobody wants to be there and the program keeps getting marked as an ineffective waste of money, so the employees are all afraid of losing their jobs while the "clients" are all harried and grumpy.

If you drive past enough roadside sniffer vans at the right speed/throttle position/phase of the moon/temperature you'll get exempted from your next emissions test but still have to pay a $25 fee. It's definitely worth it but the vans are fiddly and there's no way to tell if you've succeeded until your next registration is due.

There's no safety inspection beyond the inspectors feeling safe putting the car on the rollers, accelerating it, and taking it off.

My test was pretty straightforward. I disabled the immobilizer and told them upfront about the location of the OBD-II port. I also took the top off to help them get in and out.

They had the skinniest person at the emissions place do it since I don't think some of the techs would fit. She had some trouble with the push-to-start and finding reverse to get it on the rollers correctly, but she was very respectful and gentle with the car and asked rather than breaking things.

The car cleared the rollers fine and they were able to bring it up to the required 3000rpm and back with no issue.

Sometimes the inspectors will try to do paperwork after the test using your car as a clipboard (boo!), but the Elise with no roof has few enough surfaces that they didn't bother and used a proper clipboard.

Nobody questioned the paper VIN, I gave them my $25, and was on my way.
When I lived in Denver, I've had them run the dyno test with the parking brake on the whole time, twice. Both times they offered to pay for any damage when I pointed it out. Luckily they didn't hurt anything. They hire high school kids. It's a racket. The thing that makes it most ridiculous is that the most polluting cars, the older ones, are exempt. So what are they preventing?

Washington is much better with an OBD2 car. They just take some info and plug into the port. No dyno.
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Old 11-24-2013, 07:50 AM   #11 (permalink)
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When I lived in Denver, I've had them run the dyno test with the parking brake on the whole time, twice. Both times they offered to pay for any damage when I pointed it out. Luckily they didn't hurt anything. They hire high school kids. It's a racket. The thing that makes it most ridiculous is that the most polluting cars, the older ones, are exempt. So what are they preventing?

Washington is much better with an OBD2 car. They just take some info and plug into the port. No dyno.
I agree. The state's environmental consultants agree too; they report year after year (every time they're hired) that the program is a tremendous waste of money, but alas it soldiers onwards.

In Boulder they seem to hire older people rather than high schoolers, but things are just as bad. I think the Elise was weird enough that it made them pay attention because usually my experience is actually much worse. At least the vans are around. I make a point to drive by them as often as possible hoping the stars align well enough to make the readings actually count.
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Old 11-24-2013, 11:54 AM   #12 (permalink)
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if you have a cat on the car, it should pass the sniff test....right? I mean assuming the motor is running correctly? I would think even a s/c'd car would pass if it had the factory cat.
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Lotus Elise #134 - S O L D BOE REV400 street car built at BOE in KC. , Stock motor, low boost w/stock cat/mani, 292whp, (5.95 lbs/hp) passes all 50 states emissions/OBD, BOE ST exhaust, ACT HDSS, BOE Clam Hinge, BOE Oil Cooler Relocation, BOE Surge Tank/750cc injectors, BOE Race Links, MWR Rear Lift Kit etc. 0-100 = you bet!
Build thread :
http://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f160...seline-114302/
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Old 11-24-2013, 01:36 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I go to a place in brooklyn, looks no check engine light, plugs in obd, prints ticket and im gone. Other places like jiffy lube check everything, because thats where they make the money, The shops dont make money off inspections themself.
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Old 11-24-2013, 01:43 PM   #14 (permalink)
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if you have a cat on the car, it should pass the sniff test....right? I mean assuming the motor is running correctly? I would think even a s/c'd car would pass if it had the factory cat.
If everything is running correctly and has been running correctly so that the cat wasn't ruined some time in the past, the car should pass the sniffer.
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