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Thread: CA Smog Check woes

  1. #21
    DonTom
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    Question: If these guys deliberately rigged the test in order to get a "pass" when the vehicle should have failed, wouldn't that be sufficient grounds to force them to buy back the vehicle/return your money?
    I am sure I could if I wanted to push this enough. But I am happy with the RV and I have it all fixed up the way I want it. And it runs great. All this smog stuff is just a temporary hassle that should be over in a couple of days unless they try to screw me again. But I don't think they will chance it if they wish to stay in business. How much evidence do they want to leave that they broke laws when they cannot be sure if I will fink on them or not? They already got the unexpected from me. I bet they realize that 99% of the people will never read the smog VIR (Vehicle Inspection Report). And of the one percent that would, perhaps half of those would not understand or notice the ridiculous idle speed it was tested at. And a few others might not know how illegal it was for them to increase the idle for a smog test. But as I have said before, as soon as the words "most people" are used, there's a good chance that it means to leave me out.


    Or at least, to get them to do that under the threat that you were going to turn the entire thing over to CARB? (Which could cost them a huge fine, possibly shutter their operation?)
    If they are smart, they NOW would not take such a chance. They better be as legit as possible (I would think). I told them I would NOT fink on them as long as they fix it right, but how can they really know if I will or not? If they don't do the job right, it would be even more to use against them. In CA, this smog testing stuff is very serious and the rules are extremely strict. Strict to the point that some of it makes no sense, such as we are not allowed to make improvements that will decrease emissions. And example is when I took out my old junkly carb from my old RV and put in much cleaner MPFI. I had to register it in NV then as it would run too clean for CA .

    And if I were you, after I got the vehicle back (repaired right, to my satisfaction) I would still drop a dime on them to CARB. You know you're not the only one this place has screwed, or tried to....
    You're right. They most likely have. But perhaps that will now change because I bet I am the very first one to question their work. Like I said, who else would even bother to read the VIR? Not many, but I read every one from all my smogged vehicles and keep it.

    The VIR's from this RV (from BOTH smog shops) we made many copies of and keep the originals here and have the copies to show others, such as the RV shop.

    I still cannot believe that CA will allow an idle of 1067 in a vehicle that is set by a chip in the ECM to idle at 625 RPM. That alone proves something is seriously wrong. BTW, the King's Beach place shows the idle was tested at exactly 625.

    -Don- SSF, CA

  2. #22
    DonTom
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    I just found a neat site where you can check your (or anybody's) CA smog vehicle history with only a VIN or lic plate. See here.

    -Don-

  3. #23
    [quote=DonTom;112595]The used RV dealer who sold me my 2000 Tioga a couple of months ago claims they made a mistake. They forgot to do a CA smog test. Well, I have been keeping the RV here at my Reno, NV home, but made arrangements to go get it smogged in Truckee, CA today. The dealer said they would pay for the smog test.

    Don,
    In CA it is the sellers responsibility to make the vehicle pass smog. Your dealer knows this. You should remind them of it.
    Chris
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  4. #24
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Haynes View Post
    Don,
    In CA it is the sellers responsibility to make the vehicle pass smog. Your dealer knows this. You should remind them of it.
    They do know it. And they also now know they cannot save money for the dealer by cheating me.

    I am glad it turned out this way because if they cheated on the CA smog test before I purchased this RV, I would never question it and most likely never even see the VIR. I would now have my CA registration and be happy with that . . . until the next smog test where I would have to fix it then on my expense instead of at the RV dealer's expense!

    -Don- San Francisco, CA
    Last edited by DonTom; 03-25-2009 at 12:19 AM.

  5. #25
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post
    They do know it. And they also now know they cannot save money for the dealer by cheating me.

    I am glad it turned out this way because if they cheated on the CA smog test before I purchased this RV, I would never question it and most likely never even see the VIR. I would now have my CA registration and be happy with that . . . until the next smog test where I would have to fix it then on my expense instead of at the RV dealer's expense!

    -Don- San Francisco, CA
    Yep - and that "at your own expense" could have involved a couple thousand dollars, too...

  6. #26
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Yep - and that "at your own expense" could have involved a couple thousand dollars, too...
    Just like last week at this time, I was expecting to get my RV back by today, and be able to drive it back to my NV home.

    I wonder if this story will ever end. Here's the latest:

    The Ford dealer repair shop that my Chevy RV is in just telephoned me today. They told me that they changed the other catalytic converter and then brought it back to the "test only" smog place and it still flunked!

    Perhaps part of the problem is that this Ford dealer doesn't know much about fixing Chevys. The place I purchased the RV from was a place that deals mainly with Fords, so they have their service contract with a Ford dealer.

    I expect it's probably something simple now, such as incorrect fuel pressure at idle. I think it runs too well to be anything serious, such as low compression in the engine. Whatever it is, I hope this Ford dealer can figure out this Chevy.

    Anyway, one thing was just proved. They are too chicken to cheat again on this one now. It's way too hot, so they (or somebody) will have to fix it right. I think it's interesting that the same place that passed it by cheating now flunks it, when it must have even lower HC readings now with the new catalytic converter.

    -Don- South SF, CA

  7. #27
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    I hope this turns out ok - especially since it runs so well!

    By the way, I thought vehicles over a certain weight were exempt from emissions? I guess not in CA....

    I think I forgot to answer that question. There are some differences with heavy vehicles, but if they run on gasoline, they still have to be smogged. They don't have to have the threadmill test where they are ran under load as cars do (because they won't fit).

    But they do have looser standards, even on safety equipment. For an example, my year 2000 RV has no air bags, yet my 1996 Saturn has two.

    Diesels and motorcycles do not need a smog test. At least not yet.

    And I think there are still some parts of CA that does not require a smog test at all.

    I know you won't agree, but IMO, all this smog stuff is the best thing that ever happened to cars. It got rid of carburetors for good!

    -Don- SSF, CA

  8. #28
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    "I know you won't agree, but IMO, all this smog stuff is the best thing that ever happened to cars. It got rid of carburetors for good!"

    It only became necessary because our vile "leaders" decided to open the floodgates (beginning in 1965) and inundate this country with surplus humanity.

    If the population had been allowed to stabilize at 180 million not only would smog/pollution be far less of an issue but we would not have the run-amok "diversity" and "politically correct" bullshit that's turning this country into a continental Bosnia.

    I can remember the America that used to be - and it was a damn fine place.

    I miss it.

  9. #29
    DonTom
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    This smog stuff still ain't over. The Ford Service shop that's working on my Chevy RV gave me a call this morning. They said they are having problems with their smog tester (again!). But on Monday, they expect to have their smog tester fixed and then they want to drive the RV around for 20 miles to warm it up well and then have my RV smogged.

    But they are not sure if that will help and they expect one of the catalytic converters they just installed might not be performing to par. So then I asked a few questions, and sure enough, they are using rebuilt catalytic converters.

    Anyway, I figure if they can get it to even barely pass at normal idle after a 20 minute warm-up, I will have no choice other than to accept it. Perhaps if it barely passes in CA, it will still pass by a nice margin in NV by it's next smog test.

    BTW, what is done to rebuild a catalytic converter? I would think there would not be much left to rebuild by the time they crap out!

    -Don- SSF, CA

  10. #30
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post
    This smog stuff still ain't over. The Ford Service shop that's working on my Chevy RV gave me a call this morning. They said they are having problems with their smog tester (again!). But on Monday, they expect to have their smog tester fixed and then they want to drive the RV around for 20 miles to warm it up well and then have my RV smogged.

    But they are not sure if that will help and they expect one of the catalytic converters they just installed might not be performing to par. So then I asked a few questions, and sure enough, they are using rebuilt catalytic converters.

    Anyway, I figure if they can get it to even barely pass at normal idle after a 20 minute warm-up, I will have no choice other than to accept it. Perhaps if it barely passes in CA, it will still pass by a nice margin in NV by it's next smog test.

    BTW, what is done to rebuild a catalytic converter? I would think there would not be much left to rebuild by the time they crap out!

    -Don- SSF, CA
    What a Byzantine bushel of bullshit! How do you stand it? This has been going on for a couple weeks now - and still not resolved!

    I didn't know they rebuilt converters; I suppose they replace the lattice/honeycomb inside and reuse the case. But as with any "rebuilt," some are done as sketchily as possible - and I suspect that's what you got.

    Wanna bet the "rebuilt" converter cost a fraction of the cost of the correct/OE converter?

    And performs as you'd expect it to, too.

    Worst part: Even if it does "barely" pass CA smog, I'd be concerned about flow restrictions in the exhaust as a result of the POS converter - which may kill your gas mileage/performance and cause other problems, too.

    In 1965, bullshit of this sort would have been inconceivable.

    The maggots have ruined CA and are on the way to ruining America.

  11. #31
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    What a Byzantine bushel of bullshit! How do you stand it? This has been going on for a couple weeks now - and still not resolved!
    A couple of ways:

    !. We realize that the entire world runs on bullshit! And when there's money involved, the bullshit can get very deep.

    2. We have their car, which we get more use of than our RV. We only pay for the gasoline we use. It's a 2006 Mercury Milan.

    Yes, I already checked. The rebuilt converters are very cheap. About one fourth the price or less compared to a new one.

    But I think they are getting caught up in their own BS again. They might have to replace the CC a few times to get one that works!

    The rebuilt units look like new on the outside. Remember, they already replaced one before I brought it back to them and I then thought it was new.

    No doubt if I had to pay, both CC's would be new. But since they have to pay, they are going to TRY to get this job done as cheaply as possible, which might cost them more in the long run.

    If I were paying, I would not even think about putting on a rebuilt CC. I bet neither would they and they would try to talk me out of it if they could. But since they have to pay the money, it's different, of course.

    which may kill your gas mileage/performance and cause other problems, too.
    That is my main concern too. But there are a lot of laws on this in CA. Most CC's used in other states are not even legal to be sold or shipped to CA. If you go on line to buy a CC, you will see that 99% say " 49 state legal". I am in the 50th state.

    Perhaps all CA CC's reduce MPG and performance a little. If I find that to be the case, my next CC's will be 49 state legal as by next year, the RV will be registered in NV anyway.

    BTW, most of our vehicles are already registered in NV. And that's good, because this year all ca registration fees will double. Only the two cars we use the most in CA will stay registered in CA.

    As you probaly know, CA os going broke in this screwy economy.

    -Don- SSF, CA

  12. #32
    DonTom
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    All this smog BS is only starting. I will post some messages about it later when I have more time.

    A complaint has been filed with the CA BAR (Bureau of Automotive Repair) by me just today. The BAR takes this smog stuff very serious.

    I made a telephone call to them today, to simply ask them a question. I was told they won't even answer my question until I file the complaint. So I did.

    Some info:

    1. I have the RV back.

    2. It fails at idle worse than ever with HC readings above 400. It fails if above 150. 300 is a CA "gross polluter ". So it's well into "gross polluter" at it's normal idle at ~650 RPM's. This should make the vehicle illegal to drive in CA, except to go get it repaired.

    So why do I have the RV back? Stay tuned. Especially next week when I will have some info. from the BAR in writing concerning this problem.

    -Don- Reno, NV

  13. #33
    DonTom
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    The Ford dealer in Livermore drove my Chevy RV to a Chevy dealer in Gilroy to be repaired the other day. But all they did in Gilroy was a smog check and drove it back to Livermore. Gilroy is about 70 miles from Livermore. No doubt there are Chevy dealers right there in Livermore as it's fairly large city. So why they drove it all they way to Gilroy, we can only guess.

    We picked up the RV in Livermore yesterday. Of course, the first thing I asked for was to see the VIR (before leaving SSF, I tried to ask for the VIR info on the phone but they said they didn't have all the paperwork ready). The VIR (Vehicle Inspection Report) has all the info about how it was tested.

    The newest VIR (Gilroy) shows the idle test speed at:

    1077 RPM!!!! Yes, over 1,000 again!

    This was from the Chevy dealer in Gilroy. Of course, it passed at this RPM. After getting a lot of different answers from different people, finally the Livermore Group Service Director got involved and made a telephone call to the place that smogged the RV in Gilroy. The place in Gilroy said it was perfectly legal to increase the RPM's for a CA smog test. I wasn't going to argue with them and took the RV back and drove it back here to Reno.

    Also, I got to look at the VIR they (Livermore) did in December (the one that never got a certificate, but passed). It showed the idle at 630 and passed by better than average. But now, just a few months later, and only a few hundred miles later, it will only pass if they increase the idle by forcing pressure on the accelerator pedal.

    Now, let's think about if this is legal. If it is legal, then that means at my normal in spec idle (~625 RPM) I can pollute CA's air as much as possible (and this RV is three times max allowed, well into being a gross polluter by CA standards at 625 RPM's) as long as it passed where it does NOT ever idle at (above 1,000 RPM's). This just doesn't make a lot of sense.

    And if it's legal, why did they take the RV back and spend over $2,000.00 on it (I saw the bill to JC RV in Livermore) ?

    If I tried to get this smogged in CA next year, and if I asked the smog place to raise the idle to above 1,000 for the idle test, what type of answer would you expect I would get (this question is for everybody)? My guess is that they would NOT even think about doing that for any RV owner and then explain how they could lose their license if they did.

    Perhaps when dealers get vehicles smogged, it's common practice to raise the idle to get their vehicles to pass, from the smog places that they have contracts with.

    Anyway, I made a phone call to BAR to see if this is really legal. If it is, just remember we can all pollute CA's air as much as we want at our idle speeds as long as it passes above 1,000 RPM's.

    The guy I spoke with at BAR would NOT answer my question, but I felt he knew for sure. He would answer that it is legal if the vehicle can be adjusted and left at above 1,000 RPM's. But the only way he would answer if it was legal for a smog station to temporarily increase the idle just for the test, he would NOT answer. The only way I could get that answer was to file a complaint, so I did. I have my own guess why they would not answer this question and it is simply because they want to be sure I file the complaint.

    But laws are not always based on logic and I cannot be 100% sure until I get my reply from the CA BAR next week.

    Anyway, they first picked up my RV with a full tank of gasoline and they agreed to put a "hundred bucks" work of gasoline into the tank on them. However, they use the dealer's gasoline there on the lot which is $3.50 per gallon. But it was close enough to full after that, so there's no problem there.
    .

    -Don- Reno, NV

  14. #34
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    I assume you are going to file a complaint? I sure would! Mainly, because from what you've explained, it sounds as though the next time you have to get the vehicle smogged (I assume that's either annually or semi-annually) and it doesn't pass (because the shop isn't going to hold down the gas pedal to bump the RPMs up to 1,000) you are going to be the one stuck with a non-compliant vehicle that will have to be repaired at your expense!

    It might even be worth consulting lawyer who has some experience with these things. What you have described to me would seem to fall under "deliberate tampering" which you'd think would be a two-fer (fraud on the part of the seller, violation of smog rules by the shop).

    At this point, I'd want my money back - maybe plus something for the hassle.

  15. #35
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    I assume you are going to file a complaint?
    I guess you missed this part:

    The guy I spoke with at BAR would NOT answer my question, but I felt he knew for sure. He would answer that it is legal if the vehicle can be adjusted and left at above 1,000 RPM's. But the only way he would answer if it was legal for a smog station to temporarily increase the idle just for the test, he would NOT answer. The only way I could get that answer was to file a complaint, so I did. I have my own guess why they would not answer this question and it is simply because they want to be sure I file the complaint.

    Anyway, we will have more facts next week.

    -Don- (Reno)

  16. #36
    DonTom
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    Well, we heard from the CA BAR today, but not in the way expected. They telephoned here when I was at work and Tom answered the phone. I was hoping it would be done via E-mail, so I could simply do a copy and paste here.

    But here is the information I got from Tom.

    As we expected, BAR has reasons to "believe" that increasing the idle temporarily to pass a smog test is illegal (just as expected). However, CA BAR canNOT make the determination. I would have to take the RV to a CA smog referee station. And if I do that, and it flunks at idle under them (no doubt it will) I may be forced to sell back the RV to where I purchased it. I have no intention of doing that, as I have the thing fixed up the way I want and it performs well., other than this idle smog problem.

    I will get the registration sticker (but have not yet) as it has passed as far as CA DMV is concerned.

    Anyway, since the catalytic converters have been replaced, I am leaning towards forgetting the entire thing and fixing the RV myself. I assume it's something small such as fuel pressure being off (I don't think anybody has checked it, so I will check it myself). And then I will see if it will pass a NV smog test, which is where I will register it next year anyway.

    But I get the feeling that it's very common for dealers to take their vehicles to a smog station that is likely to do anything possible (even cheat) to make their vehicles pass. After all, they found two smog stations that would "cheat" for them. Why would a Ford dealer in Livermore drive all the way to Chevy dealer in Gilroy to get a smog test done?

    IMAO, the answer is rather obvious.

    What would you guys do it this situation? I am certainly leaning towards forgetting about it.

    -Don- SSF, CA

  17. #37
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Given your situation - specifically, that you have the intention/ability to register it in NV - I too would just fix and forget it. But if you were stuck with a vehicle that you needed to keep/use in CA only, I'd lean toward getting rid of it if you couldn't get the shop to take it back for a full refund, because of the potential future hassle with emissions checks/registration. I don't know what the law is in CA, but in VA, they require an emissions check every two years (I think; in the counties where smog check is required). If you fail, you cannot get your plates/registration renewed until the car is fixed.

    On the other hand, if you know of a compliant shop that will pass your RV with no fuss, no muss.... well...

  18. #38
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Given your situation - specifically, that you have the intention/ability to register it in NV - I too would just fix and forget it. But if you were stuck with a vehicle that you needed to keep/use in CA only, I'd lean toward getting rid of it if you couldn't get the shop to take it back for a full refund, because of the potential future hassle with emissions checks/registration. I don't know what the law is in CA, but in VA, they require an emissions check every two years (I think; in the counties where smog check is required). If you fail, you cannot get your plates/registration renewed until the car is fixed.

    On the other hand, if you know of a compliant shop that will pass your RV with no fuss, no muss.... well...
    In NV, it's a SIMPLE cheap smog test every year, all gasoline vehicles (except for motorcycles) even if new. In CA, it's an expensive much more complicated smog test, every two years unless the car is new, then no smog test for the first five years. But they can ask for a smog test every year on a vehicle that has a history of not passing and also for previous gross polluters. There are many exceptions in CA and the smog laws seem to change a bit every year.

    If your CA smog test makes you a "gross polluter" (fails by more than twice what's allowed) , then there are many hassles. You can only drive it to get it repaired. You may NOT have it tested in the same place that fixes it. You have to go to a "test only" station and if it fails, back to the repair place. And if once a gross polluter, it stays as such until it's totally repaired. IOW, if the max is allowed is 150, you only fail at 151 but are a gross polluter at 301. If a gross polluter and they fix it to do 151, you're still a gross polluter until you do better than the 150.

    I was told today by a guy that I work with who knows more about gasoline engines than I do that, at idle, being high on HC and being well below spec on CO (which my RV is) is an indication of a LEAN mixture. That coincides with the "check engine" OBD2 code I got that time of 0171 (system too lean). This code never returned, but being too lean for a CA smog test might not always be lean enough to get a code 0171.

    If the fuel pressure regulator is adjustable (I have not yet checked), I can set it a bit on the richer side which I think would solve the problem. But I will see what the fuel pressure is supposed to be first, and check it and then see if I have any room to play with.

    -Don- SSF, CA

  19. #39
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Gawd... what a hassle!

    You have my sympathies.

    Remember the good old days when you could just buy the damn thing, hang a plate on it... and drive?

  20. #40
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    Given the indicated lean condition, I'd check for leaks, loose clamps, cracks etc. in all the air plumbing downstream of the MAF sensor. If I didn't find anything obviously wrong there, I'd leak check the intake manifold, or just go ahead and replace the gaskets.

    If the problem turned out to be the intake manifold gaskets, I'd bet that some mechanic already knew about it, but nobody was willing to pay him to fix it.

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