My 1989 CRX, Honda failed the NJ Emissions

My Honda CRX, 1989 failed the NJ Inspections for very high Emissions. The engine has 200,000 miles. I had a lot of repairs done on it: new major
rnator, new oil pan cover, new engine gasket, new radiator, new axels. brakes, new alternator. catalytic converter, muffler. Unfortunately, now it failed for very high emissions. I added the Diesel and Car Cleaner, but did not help. what can I do to fix the car so it will pass the Emissions Test? what can be wrong with it, and will it cost me a lot of money. Is it worth trying to cure it or should I retire it, and sell it?
I am on a very tight budget, and am depending on this car for my transportation. I need help with this problem and fast! Please!

@Deez the first thing you have to do is post the results of the emissions test

HC minimum
actual value

CO minimum
actual value

and so on

All of it

BTW is the engine reaching operating temperature?

How old is the thermostat?

An engine that’s running too cold will have higher emissions

Would also help us to know what engine it has. If you don’t know, answer these questions:

Does it have a sunroof?

If it does not have a sunroof, how many spokes does the steering wheel have?

Looks like part of your original post got a little messed up, can you clarify what is missing? Have you had new spark plugs installed? You should get the oil changed right before going in for the emissions test and if the temp gauge isn’t up to the normal position, you will need a new thermostat.

One more thing, the O2 sensor is not monitored in this model so if it has never been changed, or if it has not been changed in the last 100k miles, at least get it checked. There should be a connector somewhere in the engine bay that does not plug into anything, it just has a cap on it. It has two pins, you hook up a DC voltmeter to the pins to measure the voltage. The meter should sweep between 0.2 and 0.7 volts about every few seconds (no more than 8 seconds). If it doesn’t do this, then you need a new sensor.

How far back does NJ test? Many states go 25 years…that would mean you’re “home free” if you get it to pass one more time.

Can you get a waiver if you spend a certain dollar amount on a fix? Some states allow this.

Have a knowledgeable person “pull the plugs” and check for both wear and running conditions in the engine.

The garage that put the “sniffer” has a readout of all exhaust gases and how they compare to what’s allowed. Get that printout and post the numbers here. There’s not too much anyone can do to help without that.

Meanjoe–NJ’s emissions tests vary somewhat, depending on the model year.

On an OBD-2 vehicle, they simply plug into the diagnostic connector underneath the dashboard, and if you pass (no codes), you’re good for 2 years. When a new vehicle is sold, initially it is good for 5 years, but once the 5 years elapse, then you have to go for emissions testing every 2 years.

On an OBD-1 vehicle, they use a tailpipe sniffer, and the car owner is given a print-out of the readings–both good and bad–so the OP should already have that print-out.

I believe that OBD-1 and non-OBD cars have to be re-inspected for emissions every 2 years at this point.

I mean, at what point do they stop testing altoghether?

Many states exempt cars >25 y.o. from testing. That would be 1987 and older. Other states (cough, cough…California) test till the end of time.

Point being, if OP can get it through one or two more years, he MIGHT be home free.

Meanjoe–NJ is the most densely-populated state in the US, with the most cars per mile of roadway. Thus, emissions are a major issue. So…to the best of my knowledge, NJ does emissions testing on all cars except the ones that qualify for QQ license plates.

The QQ vehicles have to be at least 25 years old, and they can be driven for only a couple of thousand miles per year. Even though those QQs are exempt from testing, they have to report to an inspection station each year for an odometer check. If they have been driven over the odometer limit, they lose their QQ status.

Edited to add:
This link gives you the particulars on vehicles that are exempt from emissions testing in NJ:

What is “Diesel and Car cleaner”? A fuel system cleaning product? Where did you add it? To the gas tank you mean? Are you certain it is for gasoline engines? I assume you have a gasoline rather than a diesel engine, right?

And what do you mean by “new major rnator”?

At 200K and 25 years old, the car should still be serviceable if all the routine maintenance has been kept up to date … hmm … I guess we need the details of the emissions report. It might be a simple problem to fix. Or not. But if NJ provides the alternative that you have to pay a certain amount and only fix what that pays for, and then you pass automatically irrespective of the emissions measurement, that might be the more inexpensive way to go.

My 93 Caprice would fail NJ emissions unless it had a couple of long drives (40-50 miles) just prior to the inspection. The OBD-I O2 sensor on the Caprice does not have the third wire to preheat it. There was a reference in the shop manual that the emissions are lowest when the O2 sensor and the catalytic converter are sufficiently heated.

Just sitting in the inspection line idling for any length of time would cause it to fail. I usually passed if I went in the middle of the month when the lines were shortest.

Ed B.

It is possible for vehicles with a marginal cat to pass an emissions test if the cat is warmed up almost to the point of burning up.

Some of the smog technicians are well aware of this and instruct drivers to let the car idle for several minutes before they start the process. Possibly this may be to ensure that cars that realistically would fail actually do so. Or to state it differently, to ensure that only those cars that should pass under real world conditions actually do so.

Any car with a really good cat should still comfortably pass after idling for several minutes.

That’s the theory.

“Just sitting in the inspection line idling for any length of time would cause it to fail. I usually passed if I went in the middle of the month when the lines were shortest.”

The “official” advice has always been to go to the inspection station, “in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, in the middle of the month”, as those are the times when the lines are the shortest. However, now that safety inspections have been eliminated and only emissions are checked, the lines are almost non-existent.

The last time that I went to inspection (2010), there were only two cars ahead of me in line, and I was out of there in less than 15 minutes. A friend of mine went to inspection a few weeks ago, and reported that he was in & out in less than 10 minutes.