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Smog Test 4 Dummies

Have 2001 Ford Focus w 40,000 mi. Failed smog check due 2 new battery. Tester said go put on 100 mi and return. Did that. Didn’t work. He said go add another 30 miles come back and try again. I’m like a little old Lady from Pasadena, only from San Diego. I don’t drive 30 miles a month! Where would I go? What would I do when I got there? Time’s running out. Why is this happening and what should to do?

I assume you do not have a Check Engine Light ‘ON’ at this point and the problem is that one or more ‘monitor ready’(s) is/are not set. Usually there is a driving sequence that can be driven to set the ‘monitor ready’ condition.

It sounds like you have driven enough mileage to have set the ‘monitors’ but for some reason they have not set. California has a referee system accessed through the Bureau of Automotive Repair that can waiver some smog check failures. The smog shop that failed your Focus should have given you this information after they determined that the monitor(s) were not setting. Check with the California BAR or your AAA if you are a member for the location of the referee station. I know of one in Escondido but I suspect that there is one closer in San Diego.

Hope This Helps.

The Emissions Control Unit (ECU) was probably reset when the battery was replaced. You need to go through a few restart and drive cycles before the ECU will show that everything is OK. This is so that someone can’t reset the ECU immediately before having the smog test in hopes of passing it. You are just going to have to drive a bit more. Maybe someone else here knows how many cycles it takes.

I looked up the drive cycles for your vehicle that require resetting the readiness monitors. And in order to do this would require driving for over an hour under varing driving conditions. And there are periods where the vehicle is pulled over and allowed to idle for a certain period of time. Also, one of the requirements in resetting one of the monitors is that the gas tank be between a 1/2-3/4’s full. Preferably 3/4’s full.

I don’t think you’ll get the monitors reset unless you have access to the drive cycle requirements and follow them to a tee. Or hire someone to do this.


I’ve previously been able to get some cars to reset in as little as 40 miles of driving by taking them on an interstate and driving them continuously at highway speeds then taking it into town where there will be stop and go traffic. Many times within a few miles of city driving after the road trip the readiness monitors will reset. Usually in just normal everyday driving it will take 100-200 miles for the readiness monitors to reset.

Since you are a little old lady who doesn’t drive anywhere, and has no clue where to drive to to resolve the car’s problem, I would recommend taking your car to its car dealer, and explaining to the service manager that you just had the battery replaced, and would like to pay them to perform the needed emissions system drive cycle on your car.

This way they will drive it in the needed fashion. and that you won’t have to drive your car, since you don’t like driving it just for the sake of driving it.