Few cars need tailpipe check during an emissions test

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WHAT GOES INTO AN EMISSIONS CHECK? Larry CdeBaca emails, “Your July 9 column explained how safety inspections were dropped. In a similar vein, during my last emissions test in 2016 or 2017, the man running the inspection station did not insert a test probe into my car’s exhaust pipe as I expected. He passed my car based on the fact that no warning lights like ‘check engine’ came on when I placed the ignition switch into the ‘accessory’ position. In fact, he did not have me start the car. This does not seem right.”

It does sound a little loosey-goosey.

But according to the Albuquerque Air Care Facts brochure on emissions testing, only vehicles made from 1984 to 1995 “receive a tailpipe exhaust analysis for excessive carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon levels. 1996 and newer model year vehicles include On-Board Computer (OBD II) test.”

And OBDII.com explains, “Instead of doing a tailpipe emissions check on a dynamometer, an OBD II check is a simple plug-in test that takes only seconds. What’s more, OBD II will detect emissions problems that might not cause a vehicle to fail a tailpipe test – which means emissions test failures under the OBD II test programs are expected to be significantly higher.”

It goes on to say “with OBD II, the check-engine light will come on only for emissions-related failures.” And it says an official OBD II emissions test consists of three parts:

1. An inspector checks to see if the malfunction indicator lamp/check engine light comes on when the key is turned on. If the light does not come on, the vehicle fails the bulb check.

2. A scanner is plugged into the diagnostic link connector (DLC), and the system is checked for monitor readiness. … The scanner also checks the status of the check-engine light – is it on or off? – and downloads any fault codes that may be present. If the check-engine light is on and there are any OBD II codes present, the vehicle fails the test and must be repaired. The vehicle also fails if the DLC is missing, has been tampered with or fails to provide any data.

3. As a final system check, the scanner is used to command the check-engine lamp on to verify it is taking commands from the onboard computer.

WHO TO CALL ABOUT ILLEGAL VENDING: Wallace E. Anderson emails, “After many months I have witnessed vendor(s) selling on Tramway from Lomas all the way past Academy. There is now a sign just north of Candelaria with “Notice No Vending” allowed. How can a resident have these signs posted at the habitual selling areas. Who do we contact?”

The no-vending sign cites the applicable state law and county ordinance. The main number to the New Mexico Department of Transportation District 3 Office in Albuquerque is 934-0354; the main number to Bernalillo County Public Works is 848-1500.

In previous columns, NMDOT has explained “the New Mexico Administrative Code states no vending on highway right-of-way shall be permitted and that it could be deemed as criminal trespass (NMSA 1978, Section 30-14-1). Article 14 Trespass states that whoever commits criminal trespass is guilty of a misdemeanor. The law enforcement authority having jurisdiction would be the Albuquerque Police Department or Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, depending on the location along N.M. 556 (Tramway).”

THERE’S AN ORDER TO SIGNALING: JW emails, “I have a suggestion for those of your readers who choose to use turn signal. The proper sequence is to signal, then brake. I see too many drivers who brake for no apparent reason only to put on their signals immediately before making the turn. This not only confuses following drivers but could provoke a rear-end collision where someone brakes for no visible reason.”

Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858; dwestphal@abqjournal.com; or P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, N.M. 87103.

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