Not passing smog check

Went to get my '89 Subaru smog checked, and passed everything but “functional”. Guy said my “check engine” light was on. It hadn’t come on for 2 years prior, and went out within 20 minutes after I left the place. What did that guy do to make my check engine light come on?

I am not sure he made it come on. He may have just checked the computer and saw a problem before the light illuminated. It might just be a coincidence.

Take the car to an auto parts store that will read the fault codes for free. Then post the codes (the alphanumeric codes, not their interpretation of them) here and the guys will tell you what the codes might mean.

Maybe he took the gas cap off to check it while the engine was running (they check the gas cap in my state). That might generate a trouble code.

See thread titled “CT Emissions Nightmare”

Since emissions testing accomplished NOTHING, it’s time to END IT!!

Maybe something connected with the test helped find a problem, maybe just a matter luck.

In any case, you need to know why it turn on. I don’t remember what computer system a '89 Sub had, but it may have a stored error code. See if you can get it read. Some autopart stores will read codes for free. If they can, then get the actural code (like P1234) and post it back here. Then we can help out.

You’ve got to get the definition of “functional” from the emissions test station; or, from the instructions that came in the mail; or, from the Department of Motor Vehicles (or, MVA).
Are tailpipe emissions tests done in your state? They are done for 1995 and older vehicles, in many states. This might be the “functional” test.

Auto parts stores WON’T read codes on cars from 1995 and older. A mechanic will know how to retrieve the code for you.

You can’t contain your self-righteous indignation, can you? Are you going to hijack this thread too?

Can you please prove it accomplishes nothing? Can you back up your self-righteous indignation with some facts, please?

Caddyman, do all states do emissions testing the same way? Are you claiming they are all ineffective, or just certain states? Do they all have the same standards? Do they all farm the work out to private garages? Which ones do and which ones conduct emissions testing with state employees? Is there a difference in their effectiveness?

Surely, if you are going to make such a blanket statement, you have statistics for each state that has ever conducted emissions testing, and can present those figures to prove your point.

Keep in mind, I haven’t taken a side in this debate. All I have done is ask questions, yet you only answer my questions with more questions. Where’s the proof to substantiate your position?

Why are you so angry, dude? Did someone pee in your pool?

He did take the gas cap off. Does he have to? Is there a way to run the test without doing that? And, by the way, my “check engine” light is still off. It was only on while I was there. Should I gamble and go to another check point?

Sounds like he screwed up the test by removing the gas cap while the engine was running. On some cars, that will make the computer think there’s a leak in the system designed to catch gas fumes. If you want to experiment, start the car and remove the gas cap. See if the “check engine” light comes on.

If the light has stayed off, go get another test and move on…What State are you in?

Millions of motorists are fleeced every year submitting to this useless procedure. Instead of passively accepting it, I’m trying to wake people up so they write their Congress Persons and get these “tests” eliminated. And while they are at it, they can get rid of the “Safety Inspections” too, which are just as worthless…

Safety inspections are now worthless too? Tell that to the family in South Florida who lost a loved one when a truck axle broke on I-95. The investigation revealed that a properly conducted safety inspection could have saved a life.

Drive around for a while in a state where they don’t do safety inspections, and you will notice higher occurrence of burned out brake lights and tail lights. Aren’t brake lights kind of important for safety?

I am sorry, but as a professional driver, I think calling safety inspections worthless demonstrates you are completely off your rocker. If you just looked at one hazard, bald tires for example, I am sure there are untold millions of instances where people replaced their bald tires only because of an upcoming inspection.

Again, I will ask you for some kind of proof to substantiate your wildly bogus claim, but this time, I will ask about your comment regarding safety inspections.

So, do you have any proof to substantiate your claim, or are you talking out of your tailpipe?

California. You know, I was wondering about just having it redone somewhere else. Thanks.

When you do an emissions test, you take the gas cap off, with the engine not running, and screw it into the adapter on the emissions testing machine which pressurizes the inside of the gas cap to see if it’s leaking, that’s all.

Even if you were to leave the engine run during gas cap pressure test, the computer wouldn’t set a code, cuz if it did, then you’d get a code every time you filled your gas tank and left the engine run.

The computer has to see the EFE system leak over an entire “global good trip”, or “drive cycle”. Maybe the computer system on this car is an exception to the rule.

We need that P code.

PS: Every state has a vehicle code, but a state safety inspection puts teeth into the law. This is just my opinion.

Karl Sieger,
You are mistaken. Many cars, or trucks, WILL set an EVAP code if you take the gas cap off with the engine running, and turn on the check engine light. If you have a newer (21st century) car, try it.

You’re probably right about late model cars, hellokit, but this is an 89 Subaru, not even OBDII.

Taking the gas cap off this 1989 model vehicle, while the engine ran, had nothing to do with the check engine light coming. It’s useless to speculate what did make the light come on because we don’t know what the code was, and the light went off after 20 minuets, and didn’t return.
The only answer the OP seems to be concerned about is whether he should take the car back for re-test, and if he should go to another test station. He wouldn’t answer our other questions.
YES, ROSIERN, take the car to another test station for re-test. If it doesn’t pass, you can tell us precisely what they told you for it not passing the test. Take notes, to tell us the whole story.