A Brief Intro to Emissions Testing for Those Interested in Auto Mechanic Training

Auto Mechanic Training

Any new car owner should understand what emissions testing is, and why it’s important. The engine in a vehicle gives off emissions of some kind, and with varying levels of cleanliness and environmental impact. An emissions test can provide a better understanding of how many pollutants are released into the atmosphere while driving, and what troubleshooting will be necessary should the car fail the test. So what exactly does this process consist of, and what should those hoping for an automotive career know about it?

Here’s what students in auto mechanic training should know about emissions testing.

What Is an Emissions Test, and What Exactly Is Involved in the Process?

With any emissions test, car owners can expect to see computerized diagnostic devices connected to their car. Emissions testing can be particularly common with heavy-duty diesel vehicles. This test typically involves an OBD-II on-board diagnostic system. Another component of emissions testing is a visual inspection, in which the car’s exterior, and the smoke being released from it, are monitored for potential issues and safety risks. 

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An on-board diagnostic system can often be used for emissions testing

Vehicles emitting smoke that is dark and opaque in colour may be more likely to produce emissions that would fail these tests. Pollutants that can be emitted from cars include—but are not limited to—carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter (eg. smoke), hydrocarbons, and volatile organic compounds. In the case of certain mechanical problems, fuel mixture ratios can be disproportionate and increase the CO2 released by the car.

How a Car May Fail the Test, Explained for Auto Mechanic School Students

Those doing their auto mechanic training must not only familiarize themselves with how emissions tests work, but what situations may cause cars to fail these tests. Oftentimes, these can manifest themselves through mechanical issues, such as spark plug failure, vacuum leaks, malfunctioning fuel injection systems, leaking gas caps, or problems with cylinders. It is then up to an automotive professional to diagnose what the issue may be, and why it was serious enough for the car to fail the test. Any issue that could lead to major misfiring or other problems that can cause the driver’s check engine light to illuminate are issues that can cause the car to fail emissions tests. 

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If smoke is dark and opaque, it may be releasing harmful pollutants into the air

When a Car Fails an Emissions Test, What’s the Next Step?

Should a vehicle fail an emissions test and the gases emitted exceed legal limits, students in auto mechanic school should know that the car will not only need to be re-tested, but also repaired to ensure that the problems leading to the test failure do not happen again. Once the necessary repairs are performed, the car must be tested again to be sure that it passes. It is also worth reminding clients that they must practice improved vehicle maintenance after a failed test, so that harmful emissions can be minimized and repairs or new tests will be unnecessary, or at least less expensive. This is largely due to the fact that many emissions test failures are related to poor maintenance.

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