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NYS Inspection w check engine light on.

I took the car in for a new inspection sticker, and when I returned to pick the car up, I was told the car had failed because the check engine light was on. I asked him if he could have predicted failure with the light on, and why he didn't tell me the car would fail before I committed to the test. (I hadn't noticed the CEL when I drove in).

******* He told me it is against the law in NY State to warn me ahead of the test that the CEL is on before he begins the test. *******

So had to go to the dealer and have them check and reset the light before I could have the test done
How can I confirm this assertion? Seems ridiculous.


  • If you live in an area that test "emissions" then a CEL that is on will automatically "fail" the car. You didn't notice the CEL was on prior to the inspection; does that mean the light wasn't on or that you just didn't pay attention to it?
  • This is the same as California. If the CEL is on, the car automatically fails.

    One thing you should be aware. When the dealership turns the CEL off, the car's computer knows about it. And it will tattle on you when you go back for the next test. So it might fail again, due to a CEL reset having been recently done. The car takes a while to decide whether the emissions equipment is working or not. The car has to go through a series of driving procedures before it decides whether the CEL should be on or not, and until that is done, which may take days or a few weeks depending on your driving habits, they may tell you they can't test it. This is done to prevent the owner from disconnecting the battery to turn off the CEL light in order to pass the test.

    If you Google "how to pass a New York emissions test", you'll probably get some good info. Or if you don't see anything there, try "How to pass a California emissions test". There's some good tips on some of those websites, one of the tips being "Make sure the CEL is off before you go to the test".

  • You can also reset the CEL yourself by simply removing the negative battery cable for a minute or two, saving an expensive trip to the dealer...Most autoparts stores will "read the codes" for you free so you know why the light is on..
  • It wouldn't surprise me if this were an accurate statement. I believe that, at least in some states, once the inspection process begins (which it technically did when they looked at the light), then you fail, with your current sticker removed. Whatever process is needed to resolve a failed inspection begins at that point.

    On another note, you seem to be saying both that the light was on and that it wasn't on. Which is it?
  • edited January 2013
    Sorry but the whole thing is ridiculous. We had this in Minnesota for a few years and the only one benefiting by testing was the private testing vendors. We finally got rid of testing while the vendors howled about it. They're more concerned about collecting their test fee than cleaning the air.
  • The process may be ridiculous but don't blame the inspector. It could well be that the inspector thinks certain policies are ridiculous also but if the inspector violates those policies they could be subject to fine or jail time.

    Some years back there was a new story about a fleet mechanic in KS who was faced with 7 years in prison and a 50k dollar fine for illegally adding a partial can of refrigerant to a company owned vehicle

    When OK had a safety inspection program we used to get a lot of complaints over that one too.
    The law stated that when an inspection commenced (meaning the car hit the service bay) the inspection had to be completed; meaning the car either passed or was rejected for whatever reason with a rejection slip written up in the case of the latter.
    Many people would get very irate over a rejection slip and would insist that the inspection just be ended, the paperwork shelved, and they would bring the car back after repair.
    Fine for them maybe, but not so fine for the inspector who was faced with a fine and jail time for doing so.
  • Same here in NH. If the CEL light is on...FAIL.

    You do NOT have to take it to the dealer to reset the CEL. Any competent mechanic can do it. Or as Caddyman said..just remove the battery cable for a while.

    In NH just clearing the code won't work. You have to drive a certain amount of miles with the code off before it'll pass inspection.
  • NY Inspections- You automatically fail if the check engine light is on. If you clear the codes you have to drive the ar for a day or to for the various systems to have run a self check to be in a ready to read state. You can however pass inspection with one system not ready to be read.
    Many people on this site have disagreed with me in the past about this. If you want to disagree with me about this please look it up yourself on NY States DMV website, it isn't difficult.
  • Also consider that if a CEL is on no one knows why until it is investigated. So find out why the light is on and fix it.
  • edited January 2013
    As Mike said, in NH the CEL is an automatic failure.
    And checking for the CEL is part of the inspection. Once you submit the vehicle, once you turn the key over to the shop, if the tech sees the CEL lilght on he cannot ignore it. He must at that point fail the vehicle.

    You have only yourself to blame, for ignorng the CEL. You're fortunate that all you suffered was a failed inspection.
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