My Vehicle Failed Emissions Testing: What Now?

  • Sep 15,2016
Car exhaust pipe expelling smoke Car exhaust pipe expelling smoke

When it‘s time to renew your tags, it’s unfortunately time to deal with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). For drivers in many states, this process also requires supplying the DMV with a certificate proving your car has passed its emissions test. Sounds simple enough, right? But what happens if your car doesn’t pass?

A failed emissions test can come as a total surprise for a driver whose car seems to be operating smoothly. The cause of a failed test can range from a cracked gas cap cover to an issue with the exhaust system, but how do you know what’s actually going on? Read on to better understand a few common reasons your vehicle may have failed, plus what you can do to help resolve the situation and get back on the road, fast!

Are you overdue for an oil change?

One reason for a failed emissions test is an overdue oil change. Your vehicle’s manual should tell you how often you need to change your oil, and skipping these important milestones can result in failing marks during an emissions test. Dirty oil in the crankcase could release additional pollutants, reports Fresh oil, on the other hand, means fewer hydrocarbons (i.e. raw gas vapors), plus an engine that's cleaner in terms of its emissions output. Luckily, this is a pretty simple fix—get an oil change!

Have you noticed a dip in fuel efficiency or a little rattling in the engine?

Issues with your car’s exhaust can also result in failing marks. Over time, extreme weather and general wear and tear can leave a car in need of exhaust repairs. If you've noticed increased engine noise, decreased fuel efficiency, or vibrations in the driver's seat, gas pedal, or steering wheel, you could be experiencing symptoms of a damaged exhaust system. Once the issue is diagnosed and fixed, your car will not only pass the emissions test, but you'll be enjoying a smoother, quieter ride and potentially better gas mileage. That sounds like a win for you, your passengers, and the environment.

Is your "check engine" light on?

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but hear us out. Have you ever had a friend who continued to drive their car without issue, despite the fact that their dashboard was lit up like a Christmas tree? Don't be that friend. If your check engine light is on, your car will immediately fail emissions. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. The engine of your car is a complicated machine and a leak anywhere within it could throw everything out of whack.

The most common reason the check engine light comes on is a faulty oxygen sensor, reports, a repair that costs just under $200 to fix according to their estimates. Ignore it, and it could lead to catalytic converter issues and a repair bill of more than $1,000. Again, your engine is a complicated machine so it's tough to pinpoint one reason your check engine light may be on. With a diagnostic test, a Firestone Complete Auto Care technician can pinpoint the exact problem and provide you with an estimated repair cost.

Get a diagnostic test.

These are only three—very simplified—potential issues that could lead to a failed emission test. Emissions inspections help ensure that your car's engine is emitting the least amount of pollutants into the atmosphere, so taking steps to ace the inspection benefits your health, the environment, and your community. While emissions test stations simply let you know if your car passed or failed, your nearest Firestone Complete Auto Care location can test your car, provide a diagnosis of the problem, and make any necessary repairs ASAP.

Ready to forget the guesswork? Get the emissions test, a diagnosis, and repairs all in one stop. While we can't make the line at the DMV move any faster, we can help reduce your stress when it comes to the emissions test. Make an appointment with Firestone Complete Auto Care online today—we're open seven days a week!

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