What was the worst emissions control device?

The whole problem stems from the early problems with the car manufacturers NOT wanting to work the the government. Back in the 60’s the Big Three were given tax breaks for a few years to research how to make cars pollute less. After taking MILLIONS of dollars from tax payers…they came back and said …“Gee sorry can’t be done.”

That’s when the government FORCED the use of catalytic converters on manufacturers…which the manufacturers didn’t care for.

I think the relationship has gotten better…but it’s still adversarial. If they actually tried to WORK together…it would be a lot better situation.

I’d add that another bad emissions control device was the old double-nickel speed limit, even though that wasn’t the main purpose of this legislation.

@Mark9207: While Chrysler lean-burn systems were pretty awful for performance compared to a good old dual-point ignition from the same period, I had a 1980 New Yorker with this system and it never stalled, hesitated, or in general gave me any problems, and it started as reliably in cold weather as any car I’ve ever owned. It did not have a feedback carburetor or any of that crap on it though. Probably something was amiss with yours, possibly carb problems from your description.

@oblivion: I was probably 12 years old when my dad bought that car for my mom, and remember the stalling problem pretty much always being there. I also had a friend with an older '80s Gran Fury that had none of these problems except being more gutless than you would expect a 318 to be, but don’t think that one had the electronic carburetor. It would also start reliably in the cold (and sometimes eventually after much cranking, depending on the mood it was in), but the stalling seemed to be much worse when the engine was warm. I also remember my dad replacing that electronic feedback carburetor at least twice with a rebuilt unit. Each one cost $800 at any of the big-box auto parts stores and only worked marginally better than what it replaced. We also installed a rebuilt engine a couple years before scrapping the car. I remember pulling the timing cover and finding a phenomenal amount of play in the timing chain and thinking THIS is what’s making it stall all the time. I was wrong. Despite having a standard Carter two barrel and complete Mopar Orange Box ignition system in the garage that would bolt right up and solve all this frustration, my dad chose to soldier on with this until scrapping the car over it.

Mine had a 360. As I recall, turning up the baseline timing helped a lot with the performance. The car only had a primitive MAP sensor, no cam sensor or anything else that I recall, so you could get away with that. It worked more like an electronic vacuum advance I think.

GM invented the Catalytic Converter as a way to keep their 1940’s engine designs going for a few more years…Honda offered there CVCC cylinder head technology to Detroit for nothing, but no sale…The Honda technology met emissions requirements without needing catalytic converters or unleaded gasoline…Chrysler also met the requirements with it’s “Lean Burn” combustion control system…Ford was willing to do whatever the others went along with. They had developed a “Stratified Charge” engine that showed great promise… GM won out and we got converters and unleaded gasoline…It was not an easy transformation…

@Caddyman: Whether or not this is why we now have unleaded gas, eliminating lead from gas was a great boon to the environment and public health, for sure. Scientists have extracted core samples from landfills in operation when leaded fuel was in its heyday and the amount of lead is shocking. There’s also a newish theory that lead accumulation from leaded gas was responsible for antisocial behavior. (not proven)

Thanks @oblivion for the reminder about the 55mph speed limit. I had almost forgotten about it.
I rarely obeyed that law and if I did…I would have been passed on the right and left so many times that I would have eventually had to speed up anyway.

GM won out and we got converters and unleaded gasoline...It was not an easy transformation...

You’re right it wasn’t an easy transition. But it was probably one of the BEST things ever designed for cars. I remember how cities use to be before catalytic converters. As you drove into any city…there was a cloud of smoke hanging over the city. There were times walking in a city in the 60’s and early 70’s you could barely see 2 city blocks because of all the smog. Imagine what that was doing to your lungs. Doctors who’ve studied this…say that people who grew up in cities during that era…had the equivalent lung capacity of someone living in the country and smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. I suppose you don’t think smoking is bad for you do you??

I recall a military layover I had outside of LA in '71, and the smog was so thick you could butter it on bread. Clearly something needed to be done. In '71 the changes were just beginnning.

The early changes included air pumps, cat converters, raised engine operating temperatures, leaning out of the carburators, and the beginnings of engine size reductions. All of these came with challenges, and all of them helped each in its own way.

But I believe the single biggest boost to clean emissions was electronic fuel injection. The effectivity was booted even more when advancements in chip technology made multiport injection possible.

I think the worst emissions control “device” is the stndards to which the EVAP systems have been mandated. They cause more trouble than they’re worth, IMHO.

GM did not invent the catalytic converter.

The CVCC technology was not Honda’s to give away.

Lets not resurrect Chryslers Lean Burn engine.

Stratified charge is making comeback with the development of direct injection.

But I believe the single biggest boost to clean emissions was electronic fuel injection.

LONG before electronic fuel injection became commonplace I saw drastic improvements in air quality in cities. By 1985 almost all visible smog in cities was eliminated. Fuel injection war around…but really not common place until about 1990. Now almost every car is fuel injected.

Lets not resurrect Chryslers Lean Burn engine.

Or the Cadillac 8/6/4. That was a complete disaster.

Mike, there’s no question that the combined changes made prior to 1990 made a big difference. But I maintain that the greatest single changes was EFI. Carbs simply can’t be made truely efficient. Fuel injection before electronics was vacuum controlled, and while it vaporized the fuel better I don’t believe the metering could be controlled to effectively reduce emissions. FI ddecades ago was primarily to improve power by better “misting”, but still ran “dirty”.

It’s hard to really sort out any single thing as being the best. However, the question having been “which was the worst” I still vote for the EVAP system…but not so much the systems to prevent evaporation, more so the specs that have made them nothing but trouble.

The combination of EFI/computers/cat converters has given us reliable/powerful/economical cars that still meet ever-stricter pollution requirements, as opposed to the dogs we had back around 1980.

“Carbs simply can’t be made truely efficient”.
@the_same_mountainbike-- I read in some magazine at the barbershop while I was waiting my turn for a haircut that a patent has been issued for a fuel injection system for small engines. I know that my carburetor equipped lawnmower engines are much dirtier than my vehicle engines. I can start my vehicles in the garage (with the door open) and if the wind is blowing in the door, the smoke alarm won’t go off. However, if I start a small engine outside the garage and the wind is blowing toward the garage, the smoke detector will go off. Small engines are beginning to be equipped with overhead valves, so I suspect that fuel injection is less than 5 years away. Maybe I can stretch my present 22 year old mower’s life long enough to get this improvement.

The lead had to go,even now when there is a forestfire downwind from major metropolitan area,lead levels climb.The legacy goes on-Kevin

Just look under the hood of a carbureted 1985 Accord vs the version with EFI (if you could find these antiques today).
Like night and day, 10X difference in # of hoses.
And that was Honda’s first EFI car in the US, things just improved from there.
I went for the FI then and there, and never looked back.

Eventually the EPA will flex its ultimate and omnipresent power in the small engine industry and they’ll be fuel injected too. I was quite surprised recently (last year) to discover that there are still motorcycles being built without fuel injection. That’ll end eventually too.

The EPA has continued (and continues) to pound on cars until CELs light unpredicatably and too many people with perfectly good cars can’t pass their state’s emissions test withuot spending at least $500 (or $750, or whatever the number in your state is) trying to fix an undiagnosable code.

Yet other categories have gone unaddressed. It’s only these past years that long haul trucks have begun to be addressed, and small engines, motorcycles, and off-road equipment get a “pass”.

The farm lobby did a lot of screaming, but finally the EPA is starting to regulate emissions from all those other sources. One of the dirtiest? Irrigation pumps. I grew up in LA in the sixties and will never, ever say anything bad about any form of emission controls.

I remember coming over the hill into the San Fernando Valley as a kid and wondering how we could breathe that brown soup. We were lucky enough to live by the beach where the smog was only bad when the Santa Ana winds blew. Then we got to breathe the stuff other people did full-time. Gag. I also remember what gas stations used to smell like and how sorry I felt for people who worked there.

I just want to say that I do agree with emissions controls overall the regulations have made cars much better over the years. I just have to say some emissions controls like the DPF systems don’t work very well, when the system is regenerating and cleaning the filter, the trucks sometimes blow out nasty smoke.

The manufactures have already moved onto a better technology for diesel emission controls.

Vinyl seat covering.