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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-13-2008, 02:50 PM Thread Starter
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Intro & question :)

Hi There,

I'm not really new to the forum, but I haven't really officially introduced myself. So, I'll take this opportunity to introduce myself AND ask a question, seeing as this seems to be the only general discussion forum

My name's Rob, and I admit I am ... a lurker. Step one is admitting it - step two is learning enough to contribute something of value

I live in London, Ontario, Canad'eh. Have an original 1969 Custom Coupe with a 327 under the hood.


My question is related to smog testing. Hopefully this doesn't fall into the "no-politics" category - as it is vehicular related.

Here in Ontario, we call it DriveClean, and it seems to be a sore point among residents.

Personally, I think the program should be canceled - don't get me wrong, I support the idea behind the program, cleaner air, but I think our government has got it wrong (what government gets anything right!??? LOL). Put better, I think it should be canceled and started again from scratch - not revamped; Re-vamping hasn't really done much.

I guess my biggest concern is that the program has had loopholes and issues from day one. Despite an impressive expose by a regional newspaper, and a government promise of action because of it, nothing really has been done to rectify the issues. It can be cheated, despite the government claims that it can't - yet you can look at the DriveClean website and almost every other news entry is DriveClean taking action against a shop or owner for falsified tests.

DriveClean as it was implemented meant that if your car was 3 years old but less then 20 years old, it would require testing. This only applied if you lived in one of the phase in areas, mainly the 401 Windsor-Ottawa corridor. If you move about 1 hour north, you don't need to do a drive clean test.

Here's a link to the articles. I realize that the articles are dated 2004 and 2005, however the changes Ontario called for haven't really changed much: removing the rolling 20-year cap (which sucks, because my 1989 was due for it's last test this year), increasing new car exemptions from 3 to 5 years, and increasing the conditional pass to $450 (I think it was $200). Yay. What did that mean to us? More H.E.-double-hockeysticks to keep our cars on the road.

My '89 has had problems passing in the past - so I spent a lot of time trying to learn the emissions components, and spoke with several mechanics.

The government claims that if you keep your car maintained, it should pass. All the mechanics I spoke with agreed that it's never that simple. Plugs, wires, (think regular maintenance items), are almost always never the culprit (though they do contribute). Usually it's bigger ticket items like faulty catalytic converters, O2 and other sensors, or adjustments to things like the timing. All things that are more expensive to diagnose and/or replace...

So, you fail. Now you have something that take a lot of time and effort to diagnose, and probably still won't pass, yet if you have money, just pay the $450 (plus the smog test fees, plus your sticker fees) and be on your way. The exemption states "fix what you can within the $450 limit", but if you need a $600 catalytic converter, you just pay $450 and no actual work is done on your car. How does that benefit clean air? The only winner there is the mechanic who decides not to put the effort into diagnosing problems, and take a cool $450 for no effort.

I'm curious to hear stories from the various states that have smog testing, how it's implemented, and how it's received by the residents.

Apparently in California, you have to test everything, including classic cars, but I never hear any whining (it's as if California got the kinks ironed out). Is it just the distance masking the complaint, or do people just accept and deal with it now? What other states have smog testing?

'69 Impala 327 Custom
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-13-2008, 05:52 PM
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-13-2008, 07:47 PM
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I think YOUR politicians did an Internship in Crook county,Oh, My Bad!!! I MEANT COOK County Illinois.Clean Air means a LOT in Illinois. BUT ONLY IF you live in "The Greater Chicagoland or East St.Louis Areas". The rest of the state DOES NOT have to be tested...Which includes Our State capital Springfield. Where "State Legislators" (some not all) will register their vehicles. We DO have some GOOD ones. When a vehicle gets over 4 years old, it requires to be tested or you cannot renew your plates. As for the testing,the car has to PASS "The Emissions Standards" that were in place when it was new. I have a 70 Impala, and as of last year it does not require to be tested any more. It always Passed testing,but, it was only tested for a couple of standards in place in 1970. Our state "Privatized" the test stations a few years back,and several times were sued because of "the test". Your car was put on rollers and accelerated to high speed and then in an instant... back to FULL STOP. More than one trans."took a dump". I'm not exactly sure how much$$$ you're required to spend to get it to pass. But yours sounds quite high, but then again times the amount by the population there, and then less $$$ here times a million more living here and it probably equals the same. I hope this gives you a little" help" with your problem.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-13-2008, 09:23 PM Thread Starter
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The intial test is $35, and if you fail, it costs $17.50 to retest, 2 more tries allowed. You need at least a conditional pass (eg paying the $450) to renew your stickers ($74), and a real pass to register a vehicle after a transfer by sale.

The test is supposed to take about 30 minutes, but it's not uncommon for the testers to rush the test - it's expensive to set up shop to do testing, so the more tests they can do the better.

I was finding with my 89 that the idle speed on the test was much higher then the normal idle speed. My one test, the truck sounded like a small block with a cam, and was running at about 400rpm at idle, but on the idle portion of my test, the idle speed used was more like 830rpm. I have a feeling that the one shop I had gone to, they do the drive test, and don't wait for the engine to stabilize to a normal idle before pulling the idle test, which of course causes my truck to fail.

As for specs, apparently it's like your program, the emissions standards set for the make/model of the car the year it was manufactured.

No one from Cali. on here?

'69 Impala 327 Custom
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-13-2008, 11:19 PM
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Welcome to the Team Rob! Your 1969 shouldn't have anything other than a PCV valve for emissions equipment. Some high performance cars in 1969 had an additional AIR pump that pumped air into the exhaust system to complete the combustion (340 horse 327, 375 horse 396, or 425 horse 427). So I do not know what the government can require of you to comply with current air standards.

In California the SMOG was so bad in 1965 the California Air Board got together and outlawed all internal combustion engines from the state by reducing their allowed emmisions to a point which was about one tenth of what cars were at the time emitting. Since they assumed no car could comply with the proposed standard (scheduled to be implemented in 1970) they assumed that all of the factories would stop making internal combustion engines and start making electric cars (their desired solution to the problem). They of course were idealistic and not at all concerned about the economic impact that their decision would have on American's and the auto industry. Had the big three though about the ultimate outcome of the CARB requirements they would have stopped exporting cars into California and the citizens would have chosen cars over clean air. The muscle car era could have continued unabated, even though sales were being effected by insurance surcharges. But by knuckling under, they became hostage to CARB's dictates (and by extension most of the rest of the country).

As to why Ontario follows California I do not know. Many states assume California is some kind of oracle, and are all knowing in things environmental. So much so that California law is often copied verbatim into many other state laws.

In Florida were I live our former governor (Jeb Bush, W's brother) outlawed our existing safety and emission inspections on all vehicles as an intrusion of government into private individuals lives. As a response I upgraded my 305 powered Impala with a ZZ502 transplant. No car is inspected and we allow individuals to ride motorcycles without any safety equipment (however children under 16 must wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, but on a motorcycle nothing). There is no way of explaining what legislators think

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-13-2008, 11:27 PM Thread Starter
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Actually, because the Impala is "1987 and older", it's emissions exempt. This was more of a general discussion topic, I was curious how other places dealt with smog tests, how it's been received and what issues others might be encountering...

It does seem true that California is a model for Ontario when it comes to a lot of things, including the environment.

'69 Impala 327 Custom
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-22-2008, 12:45 AM
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Interesting the way we do things here in Ontario eh? If you see a vehicle somewhere that is smoking bad, you can report them to the misitry of environment!

'69 SS396
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-23-2008, 05:33 PM
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Interesting stuff. Most vehicles emit the bulk of their emissions at idle so on most non-FI cars that was the focus of the manufacturer. Emissions can range from vapor emissions from gas caps and float bowls to CO burned emissions emitted from the tail pipes. The FED's started imposing emission standards on manufacturers in 1968(?). That is when it went beyond PCV valves and they started adding charcoal canisters and AIR pumps. I had a 1984 El Camino that was the last engine before F.I. That QJet carb was an abomination with computer controlled/sensored components. It had electronically controlled metering rods that were a friggen joke. That engine had more emissions crap than I have ever seen before.

In Illinois they finally realized that their mini dyno tests were useless and they revised their testing stations to simple computer plug-in tests to download a running history. If they see a bad code in the memory log they send you out the door with an "F". The problem with that is most modern automatic transmissions are also tied into the code logging and the morons at the testing facility don't care of it's non-emission related. If they see an error code they won't pass you. So even if your engine is running correctly, your transmission may be acting up enough to set an error code and will require you to service your transmission, which usually isn't cheap. The system is still flawed.

At least they repealed the age of vehicles requiring testing. All vehicles prior to 1996 no longer need to be tested. They determined that there weren't enough of these vehicles left on the road to be a contributing factor to damaging auto emissions.

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-27-2008, 10:23 AM Thread Starter
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In Illinois they finally realized that their mini dyno tests were useless and they revised their testing stations to simple computer plug-in tests to download a running history. If they see a bad code in the memory log they send you out the door with an "F".
Does this mean you'd fail if you ever had any issues with the motor or the emissions equipment in the past, even if you've corrected the issue prior to the test?

Or does erasing the code erase it from the run log as well? Do a lot of people just disconnect the battery then to reset the ECM before a smog test?

'69 Impala 327 Custom
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