Selling an out-of-state car is impossible in CA

I recently moved to sunny CA, and would much rather use the local Zipcar service than continue to deal with my old car. However, in order to sell the car, state law requires that it first pass emissions.

Although my 10-year-old car has been running perfectly fine, my check engine light is on. An OBD-II scan claims that my engine should be spewing black smoke: no less than 8 different emissions-related problems popped up. The likelihood of this being true is very low, but proving it will be very expensive.

Do I have to give up and scrap a functional vehicle, or do I end up spending more time and money to “fix” it than it’s actually worth?

You can offer the car on E-bay to an out of state buyer who lives in an area not bound by emissions tests…But with a check engine light glowing you will get few takers regardless. A ten year old Hyundai is not worth much regardless, so just list it on craigslist as a parts car, as is, and take what you can get…

You see a lot of California titled cars on Craigslist for Mohave County Arizona, so I’m guessing that is what a lot of people are doing.

Is there some reason why you’re opposed to actually fixing this car? I know for a fact there is no OBD-II code which states “should be spewing black smoke”. That light doesn’t just go on for no reason-- either you have a mechanical problem which is causing a sensor to read out of range or you’ve got a sensor/computer problem and you should at the very least figure out what the issue is.

I’d love to fix the car and sell if for its true worth. My boyfriend would love to fix the car: it’s really bugging him that he can’t go and fix it himself. But we have no money and no tools! Them’s the breaks.

Did they clear the codes after they read them? Did the check engine light come on immediately?

The OBD II codes don’t tell you for sure what is wrong, they just point to the electrical signals that don’t make sense to the car’s computer. There is a reasonable chance that only one thing is actually wrong.

If you clear the codes and drive it until the light comes on again, and read the first code or two that set, those are the most instructive as to what the root of the problem may be.

Put it on craigslist with all the disclaimer about the emissions. Get it in writing from the buyer that they know it is not passing emissions and they are buying it for parts or something. Someone will buy it and fix it and enjoy driving it.

They did not clear the codes today, something about being illegal. :slight_smile:

We did have the battery replaced a month ago, which would have reset the system and possibly screwed around with settings. Also, we discovered a loose vacuum tube this morning which would definitely had something to do with it all. A riveting mystery that will be solved by someone with tools.

Yeah, I suppose that’s my solution. Ah well!

If the loose vacuum line is the cause of some or all of the OBD-II codes, they will erase themselves as you continue to drive. The computer deletes codes that are not set after several restarts. Drive it for about 15 minutes every day for a week then see if the CEL is still lit. If so, get the codes read. You can go to chain auto parts stores and borrow a code reader for free. Auto Zone and Advance Auto Parts provide this service and others might as well.