Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Victory!: Our Emissions Testing Saga

Any of you official Davidson County residents have learned about the terror that is emissions testing. Until last year, I had never heard of such a thing, and thought the lady at the county clerk's office was legit making it up. Unfortunately, it is real. And it is really awful. In theory, I love it. I love that Nashville is trying to keep air pollution down & accidents to a minimum. But in practice, I selfishly hate it. The long lines of sitting in the car. The $9 fee. The creepy waiting room. The anxiety of waiting for the results. Okay, okay, it's not really that bad. Unless your car fails 4 times, then it really really sucks.

So, Nathan took in the 12-year-old CRV to be tested & passed with flying colors. Then we took the newer, nicer Camry in & failed because the Check Engine light was on (duh). So, we got an oil change, transmission fluid change, and a diagnostic test stating that we were good to go. The next emissions test: fail. They told me my drive cycle hadn't been fulfilled. So I drove it for another week or so, took back in, and promptly failed again... for the same reason. Thinking that maybe my car just has a weirdly long drive cycle, I drove it around for another week before taking it back in. Attempt number 4? Fail. Same reason... readiness monitor was not "ready"... who makes this BS up? That is not a real thing.

So, I made several calls. One guy told me I needed to have both of my catalytic converters replaced ($700+), one guy was just sarcastic & unhelpful, one guy told me it couldn't possibly be my catalytic converter since no dashboard lights had come on, and one guy told me I probably needed a recalibration of the whole system. What?

Our solution? Autozone. Free diagnostic. It ran just fine, no codes showing up. The brilliant, wonderful man at Autozone explained that the computer was just having trouble connecting to the computers at emissions testing, and he recommended that we unplug the battery overnight so the computer could reset, then plug it in & drive it around to fulfill the drive cycle (the drive cycle restarts whenever the battery is unplugged). So we did exactly that. Basically just like rebooting a computer that froze up.

A week later, we headed back to Autozone to have them run a diagnostic, just to be sure. No codes, good to go. So we returned to the emissions testing center & got in line. Of course we picked the one lane that didn't move at all.... cars who pulled in a good ten minutes after us were driving away before we even approached the testing bay. My heart was pounding from the anxiety. A good twenty-forever minutes later we pulled in, handed the tester the keys, and went to the waiting "room" (cubicle). I stood anxiously awaiting the result (meanwhile seeing them break the cord that holds my gascap on and then shut the gas door as if nothing happened). They handed us the paper, and I could hardly bare to look. I saw, finally, that obnoxious little smiley face indicating that we had passed. I shot my arms up in the air & loudly exclaimed my joy and relief. The tester was obviously confused about the amount of enthusiasm I had regarding an emissions test. We got in our PERFECTLY WORKING CAR (which I have known this whole damn time), and drove straight to La Hacienda for celebratory margaritas.

So, $27 and several conversations with mechanics later & we've succeeded against the beast that is emissions testing. There has never been anything wrong with my car. I will swear to my deathbed that the "readiness monitor" is a made up load-of-crap. But, despite the anxiety this whole situation has caused, we have triumphed.... meaning that now we have the privilege of paying $81 for our tags.


Mommy Mary said...


Bethany said...

ahhhh I hate having to do this! my check engine light comes on for fun sometimes, and stays on forever, and no one can ever tell me whats wrong with my car. so as soon as it went off a few weeks ago, i went to get the emissions test done...when it was 107 degrees out. my car overheated sitting in the long line, i had to turn the ac off, wait/sweat another 30 minutes...but at least I passed! but now I keep forgetting to go get my tags renewed. crap. as in-i literally just remembered as I was typing that I still haven't done the last part.

thanks for the reminder? uggghhhh

Becca said...

oh my goodness bethany, you crack me up. :-)