Service P+us Car Care Centre
Jun 25, 2015

Understand Emission Tests

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Caring for your vehicle is never just about your vehicle’s lifespan or retail value. It’s about the life and health of yourself, your loved ones, and everyone in your community. This is most apparent when it comes to emission tests.

Understanding E-Tests

What is an Emission Test?

It is a test of the pollutant content of your vehicle’s emissions.

Why Are Emission Tests Important?

These days, car emissions are ultra-clean. Catalytic converters do a chemical exchange that gets rid of the worst pollutants, and positive crankcase ventilation systems manage the heat to prevent damaging pollutants from forming. These give your engine a nice clean burn.

Usually, car exhaust is over 99% made up of steam, nitrogen, and low-grade pollutants like carbon dioxide and monoxide. Less than 1% are dangerous pollutants: sulfur dioxide, a poisonous irritant linked to lung problems, aldehydes, linked to higher cancer risks, and smaller nasty hydrocarbons. At low concentrations, all of these are fairly safe and we don’t worry about them day-to-day.

However, if your car isn’t combusting properly, or the converter isn’t functioning well, you’ll get a dirty burn with low efficiency and lots of pollutants. These pollutants will oxidize your engine on the way out, making the problem even worse.

But, much more importantly, small amounts will also enter the air of your car cabin. With dirty emissions, you and your passengers can develop health problems, from coughing all the way up to cancer. The emissions can also affect you when getting out of a recently-running car in the garage.

In larger communities, they can even build up to create toxic smog. For this reason, big cities often mandate regular emission tests to keep everyone’s air clean.

Fortunately, then, the process of testing emissions is cheap and easy.

How Do I Test Emissions?

Your engine works differently when idling, accelerating, cruising, and decelerating. A good test needs to check the exhaust in all four cases. For most cars, you need to use a dynamometer, a treadmill for cars. You or a mechanic will drive the car on the treadmill, while a machine tests your emissions.

Many newer cars make the process much easier: the onboard computer regularly tests the exhaust and stores the data. All a mechanic needs to do is download and analyze it against the typical levels for your make and model.

Either way, an emissions test can be bundled with an inspection. Keeping up with emissions testing is easy, and it saves your car from corrosion, you from cancer, and your community from toxic smog.

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