Smog Inspection: "On-Board Computer system is not ready to be tested"

That is the report I got back, and the inspector said that he could not even begin the test. The same thing happened 2 more times with long, open highway runs intervening, one of them with a different shop. The report goes on to list 11 systems, three of them marked Unsupported; five marked Ready; and the following systems marked Not Ready:


Evaporative System

EGR System

The form goes on to state “contact your vehicle service advisor”. Even the inspector said “dealer”.

So I took that Civil War Relic to the local dealer, with dollar signs jangling in my head all the while. THE SERVICE MAN ON DUTY HAD THE GALL TO TELL ME 1. THAT HE WOULD KNOW NOTHING WITHOUT A DIAGNOSIS, AND 2. THAT THE DIAGNOSIS ALONE WOULD COST $95.00.

Does anyone here have any enlightening data? I would be very hard-pressed to junk this car now.

Oh, the car is a 97 Dodge Grand Caravan.

To set the OBDII system into a readiness state requires driving the vehicle under various driving conditions. And there is no standard driving cycle to set the readiness state. each vehicle manufacturer has it’s own driving cycle to put the engine manangement system in the readiness state.

I will tell you that the three systems that show the not-ready state are the hardest to get to into the readiness state. This is true with all vehicle manufacturers. So, all you can do is drive the vehicle under various traffic conditions to get these systems in the readiness state. Because that’s the only way it can be done.


Usually, this is because the ECM was reset just before going for the test. If you did not have the system reset yourself, then there is a possible problem preventing it from retaining it’s memory. Just like Tester said, you’ll need to keep driving in various traffic conditions until all the parameters are set.

If you use the vehicle as your commuter vehicle, to and from work, it should be ready in one to two weeks. One required condition is that gets completely warmed up, so check your temp gauge. If its not warming all the way up, you may need a thermostat. If you’ve had the computer reset or have changed the battery (or it went dead) recently, that would account for the non readiness state.

If it does not go into the readiness state, then I would suggest that you first try one of the auto parts stores that offer free code reading. AutoZone is one of them. If there are no stored codes, then you may have to go to the dealer. The inability to get ready could be due to a blown fuse, but I don’t think that is the case for you or nothing would be ready and it would not run very good. The other thing could be a driving condition that is needed but one that you never do. Your dealer should be able to give you a list for free.

If all that fails, then you will need a full diagnostic test. This can take about an hour and that is why it costs $95. You are taking up garage space, using a very expensive piece of equipment and an hours time of a trained operator. If the operator is any good, its worth the money. It can save you money in the long run by having the correct part(s) replaced the first time and not blindly throwing parts at the vehicle hoping one of them fixes the problem. Guessing can get a lot more expensive.

Many dealers will refund part or all of the diagnostics if you have the work done there. The service writer on duty was being honest with you and serving your best interest. BTW, there diagnostics go a lot further than simple code reading done at a parts store, but I’d still go to the parts store first, sometimes its all you need.

I have attached a Chrysler TSB that deals with the monitors. As you can see from the TSB there are many requirements for a monitor to be “ready”. If you need your inspection soon I would recommend going to the dealer. If you can wait awhile try driving the vehicle under many different operating conditions.

Originally there were 4 systems not in readiness state. A semi-infinite amount of "driving under various driving conditions put ONE system into readiness state, so this is not the answer.

Get upset with me if you want, but your comment about the service advisor having the “gall” to tell you he would know nothing without a diagnosis and your aversion to spending 95 bucks for a diagnosis leads me to believe you’ve ignored your vehicle into this condition.

The advisor cannot and should not tell you specifically what is wrong with the car since he does not know - period. The shop must charge a diagnosis fee as that is what puts the roof up, pays for the lights, and assures the mechanic is not diagnosing your car, and 14 others one after the other in the same day, for free. If the mechanic diagnoses your car for free this means he earned zero money for that job and most mechanic’s wives and children may take exception to that along with the tech.

What have you done to maintain the tune of your Caravan? If you have done nothing, of course, it won’t be in peak tune, and will fail the emissions test. There are things that you can do. The evaporative system might be as simple as a leaking gas cap. If the EGR valve, and passages, are clogged with carbon, the catalytic converter could be adversely affected. The spark plugs should be new. The spark plug wires, and air filter should be newish. Use an MAF, an intake and throttle body spray cleaner. After doing the maintenance, go to Auto Zone, or other auto parts store, to have the check engine lights read, especially, the PENDING codes. Have the codes, all, erased. Make the trips as outlined by the Chrysler TSB (Technical Service Bulletin), and have the codes read, again, ESPECIALLY, the PENDING codes, and a list of the monitors not set. When you have done those things, fully and fairly, come back here with all the codes, and list your actions.

This problem happened to me also when I went in for my last check. My battery kept going low due to me not driving the car enough. The IM inspector at the Jiffy Lube I went to had a manual that covered the the various makes of cars and the procedures that needed to be done in order to set the monitors. He was kind enough to let me copy them and then I went out on the road to follow the instructions. The procedure involved staying at a steady speed, stopping, accelerating to a speed within a certain time, turning off the engine, starting the engine and idling, and other things like that. Even after doing that and traveling over 20 miles on the trip I didn’t get all the monitiors set but it was enough to qualify to run the test.