Schools Training

Emissions Testing for Driving Clean

22 MAY 2013
Career Path : Automotive

As the world’s population becomes increasingly urbanized, cities feeling the heat of congestion and accompanying smog are becoming more concerned about what can be done to lower pollution. Since automobiles are one of the primary causes of air pollution, many cities and states have made emissions testing mandatory on any vehicle that is licensed to be on the road. It is a required assessment of a given automobile’s pollution output under simulated normal driving conditions, typically performed by mechanics in an auto shop.

The Need for Testing
Even as many auto makers improve the environmental friendliness of their designs, cars continue to emit pollutants including nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and fine particulate matter. The resulting air pollution is particularly harmful for citizens with respiratory conditions but huge international cities with excessive traffic often suffer from a suffocating haze creating far reaching health problems. With emissions tests, vehicles are connected to a chassis dynamometer, which displays revolutions per minute (RPM), horsepower and torque of the engine at various speeds, with the amount of pollution measured by an oxygen sensor.

Drive Clean Controversy
The province of Ontario’s Drive Clean program, changed procedures this year to use on-board diagnostic testing instead of measuring exhaust straight from the tail pipe. This system has been creating much more work for mechanics and headaches for car owners as apparently many vehicles fail despite being new or recently repaired. The source of the controversy seems to be the way that data is saved in a car’s interior computer. Further complicating matters are reports that some garages are improperly warming up cars beforehand, then offering to make repairs after the test has been failed.
The current system is far from perfect. Fraudulent testing has occurred in which non-passing cars have had testing equipment connected to a passing car, a problem which the new system supposedly addresses. The worst case scenario is that even after spending a lot on repairs, the emission problem still hasn’t been solved. In certain U.S. states, vehicle owners spending over the applicable “waiver” limit are deemed to have made a good faith effort and can bypass testing.

Passing the Test
Professionals with auto mechanic training recommend taking your car out on the expressway for twenty minutes prior to testing to ensure its at normal operating temperature. Maintaining your vehicle is your best chance of passing an emissions test. Changing spark plugs, air and fuel filters, PCV valve and oil, checking ignition timing and adjusting the carburetor can sufficiently reduce emissions, as can filling up before a test with premium fuel. Ensuring the battery is in optimal condition can also affect fuel injector performance. Students in auto mechanic school prepare for the growing emissions market with in-depth diagnosis and repair training to help us all breathe a little easier.

Visit Canadian Automotive and Trucking Institute (CATI) for more information about transportation operations training.