Smogging a '96 Ford Ranger



When I smogged my car 3 years ago, I didn’t pass the test right away, so I took it to a mechanic who charged me $200 for a new catalytic converter. It still didn’t pass, so I took it back, and he found that I now needed an O2 converter, another $200.

Last year, I Got smart(?). I bought an ODC meter, and checked it myself. It showed that I had cylinder ‘1’ missing. Not a problem. My Ranger is geared high with a 4 cylinder engine and a 4 speed manual transmission and additional Overdrive, so you could say it is a 5-speed. It has ample horse power for the highway, so I don’t have to run it at high rpm’s on the highway, but it lacks torque, and occasionally it “hiccups” on a hill with a little misfire. I looked at the cylinder ‘1’ misfire on my new ODC meter, and I reset it. Hey, my car doesn’t misfire very often.

Now, none of the tests were ready, and the Test Only Smog Testing Shop told me to drive it a while to get the computer to re-boot, or whatever those finicky onboard computers do to get right. DON’T WORRY, they said. IT WILL RESET IN A HUNDRED MILES OR SO. I drove it a hundred miles. I drove it 200 miles. It wouldn’t reset. The maximum number of tests that could be unresolved was 2. I got all kinds of advise: Drive it a hundred miles-I tried. Get on a straight stretch and drive for a minute at 40 mph and without using the brakes slow to 30 mph for a minute no brakes, and down to 20 mph for a minute. I did that. Boy Howdy!! Try to find a highway to try that trick! I was down to 3 unresolved tests from the onboard computer, and I had driven almost 600 miles.

I took it to a mechanic for a diagnostic, explained the problem–my whole story–and he gave me the car back the next day and told me what I already knew, that there is nothing wrong with my car, it smogs fine, it doesn’t miss, and he ERASED THE COMPUTER FOR ME!!. Now I was back to where I started. 4 unresolved tests with the onboard computer, and a possible 600 mile trek to get it down to 3 unresolved tests.

I’ve been racking up registration violation tickets, with no end in sight. My car smogs fine, but I can’t get a certificate. I’m really getting nervous. There is a Meter maid that hides out behind a bread truck, and I think she wants to date me, but I can’t get past the idea that she’s waiting for me to leave so she can sidle a tow truck up to my ride. Don’t mind the tic in my eye. I think I’m just nervous. See my hands shake. Meter maid!! Gotta’ go.


It sounds like you need a mechanic that really knows what they are doing and then you need to fix it right.


Looks like a problem in the “keep alive power” circuit.

“This power is used to energize the learning memory circuits in the PCM.”


(1) Buy a '75-'80 model truck, restore it, and deal with a MUCH more basic smog test.

(2) Move to a free country or at least an area with no smog tests.

(3) Register the vehicle in an area with no smog tests.

(4) Install a “clean” PCM from a wrecked vehicle.

(5) Call your State Rep and tell him you are tired of this crap and want a waiver so you can get on with your life. While you are at it, ask him if he can prove emissions testing makes any difference in air quality.