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Annual Smog Check

By March 27, 2017Auto Service

For annual registration renewals in Philadelphia, PA an emissions test is usually required. Technicians perform it along with the safety inspection. It may seem like a hassle, but these emissions checks are a way to reduce air pollution and keep drivers safe out on the road. Here is what you need to know about smog checks


How Often Do I Need a Smog Check?

Most vehicles require annual emissions inspections so drivers can complete their registration. Newer cars may not require emissions testing every year, but rather every other year. How do you know if your car needs an emissions test? A notice will come in the mail along with the registration renewal. This will tell you if your car needs a smog check and a safety inspection.


Exemptions and Exclusions

You can be exempt from emissions testing when:

  • It is a new vehicle driven less than 5,000 miles
  • Vehicle has been owned for only one year and driven less than 5,000 miles the previous year

You can be excluded from emissions testing when:

  • Vehicle is registered as a street rod
  • Vehicle is registered as classic, antique, or collectible
  • Vehicle is a motorcycle

For cars and trucks that are exempt from the smog test, you still must take your car to an inspection state and receive an exemption sticker. For excluded vehicles you will not need an exemption sticker, because no emissions message appears on the registration card.


Where Should I Go for a Smog Check?

Not every car repair Philadelphia shop can perform emissions inspections for the state. You need to look for a special sign outside the repair shop indicating that they are certified by the state to perform a safety inspection and a smog check in Philadelphia, PA.


Types of Emissions Inspections

The most common for new vehicles is on-board diagnostics. For this test the mechanic attaches a cable to the on-board computer and downloads the information. Several sensors feed information into the computer which monitors the ignition, fuel metering, and other emission systems. The computer makes sure each aspect is working as it should. If the computer detects a problem it will store a specific code and illuminate a light on the dashboard. The codes will tell the technician diagnose the problem, and if necessary, repair it.


The other smog check is a tailpipe test for cars without an on-board computer, usually built before 1996. First the technician turns the engine over and makes sure the vehicle is running at the correct operating temperature. Then the mechanic inserts a probe into the tailpipe. This captures a sample of the car’s exhaust and an analyzer will indicate whether or not the vehicle is emitting exhaust with excess pollutants.


The mechanic will also perform a gas cap test and a visual, anti-tampering check. The gas cap keeps harmful evaporative emissions from entering the atmosphere, and needs to function properly. As for the anti-tampering check, the technician will look at several emission control devices to make sure they have not be illegally altered. Things like the catalytic converter, fuel inlet restrictor, air pump, and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valve all get checked for proper components and connections.


There are more cars than ever before, and higher levels of pollution. To help improve air quality in the area you want to get your smog check done every year. For this service call Schafer’s Auto Center today at 215-755-1270 or visit us at 1924 S. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19148.


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