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Failed Emissions Inspection

I have a 2002 Chrysler Sebring LXI 4 door sedan, V6, with 150,000 miles on it that I bought used from one owner one year ago. The vehicle failed New Jersey inspection (at a NJ insection station) for emissions in that the tech saw “visible smoke” from the tailpipe when the excelarator was pressed. I see the same in that it is relatively slight (not thick black smoke). Please give me your recommendations as to what needs to be done to get this to pass emissions, the cheapest way as possible. Thanks for your help.

Now you know why they sold the car to you.
If you bought it from a dealer, they have to fix the car.

If you bought it from a private owner, you don’t have any recourse through them.

Chances are, the smoke is from the piston rings, and/or from the valve guides.
That makes the repair quite expensive to resolve, potentially.


It’s the “accelerator.”

You should dump the car or get the rings or valve stem seals fixed, but…

I’ve heard that you can put full synthetic oil in, and you might not be able to see it in the exhaust. (It still burns, but it’s less visible.) Of course, the inspector might smell it.

You could also try using heavier oil for the test, and then switching back to the correct oil.

If you do get it past the testing, then you will have to check the oil level every few days or you won’t have this car for long.

BC - thanks for the reply. Just to clarify, I bought the car one year ago and the “two year” inspection was good until this year. Your reply regarding rings and / or valve guides was not unexpected but I figured I would throw out the question. One other thing to put out there is that someone told me to put about 2 oz of brake fluid into the oil that will expand the rings a little. Check for smoke and if non, take it to inspection right away then change the oil right after that. I am leery about this quick remedy to cover me for two years. It’s my kids car but overall is in great shapre.

Brake fluid will not expand the metal piston rings. It might swell the valve stem seals a little bit.

This is what I would do: change the oil with a ‘high miles’ oil at the top of the recommended weight range, put in a FULL dose of Techron, or the like, and take it for a half-hour drive on the open freeway, maybe put it in a gear that results in it revving at about 3500 rpms. Pull into my driveway, see if it still has ‘visible smoke’ when I rev it.

Is the car using any oil? Do you check it regularly? Is the smoke bluish tinted, or is it black? Did they measure the exhaust gasses, or did they just summarily fail you because of the visible smoke?

Based on your description, I’m not 100% convinced the smoke is necessarily oil. If I were you I’d bring it into a mechanic or have someone with experienced eyes and nose look at the smoke to confirm that what you’re seeing isn’t unburnt fuel before you start adding junk to your oil.

Try replacing the spark plugs and air filter, adding a dose of sea foam, take it on a long drive and see if you can still see the smoke.

Switch to a 100% synthetic oil. Just your basic 10w-30 or even better 20-50 Mobile One. When this oil burns, it leaves very little smoke…The next inspector, aware of why you failed the first test, (or maybe not aware) will ask what you did to cure the smoke. Tell him you had the PCV system serviced, that crankcase vapor was blowing back into the intake, causing the smoke…Everyone should now be satisfied…