Report Finds Smog Checks Pointless With Modern Cars

Discussion in 'Environmental Discussion' started by Trollbait, Dec 1, 2017.

  1. Trollbait

    Trollbait It's a D&D thing

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    Report Finds Smog Checks Pointless With Modern Cars
    "Modern engine technology has made regular emissions testing an exercise of dubious value. That was the finding of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) in a report released last month. Researchers compared air quality data from California with the results of inspection station records to conclude that the government-mandated inspection program has had no effect on pollution levels."

    In short, the increased pollution from a modern car that is out of emission spec tends to so low that the all the costs of running the inspection program may not be worth catching those cars to fix.

    If it caught the people actually cheating their emission systems, I wouldn't mind continuing to pay for inspections, but I think that isn't likely. So maybe the funds can be better spent elsewhere when it comes to cleaning the air.
     
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  2. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 'Orrible Oracle

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    We had safety checks here, through the '80's IIRC, then they switched to smog checks, maybe mid-90's? That's fallen by the wayside, there's nothing now. The real stinkers on the roads seem to be diesel trucks, and a lot of the transit buses, especially the older ones. AFAIK they've never really been checked. You get the sense a few bad apple trucks are pumping out the vast majority of the pollution. Plus a few "vintage" vehicles...

    I wouldn't mind a return to the safety checks; it covered mundane items such as verification all lights were operational, brakes were effective, tire condition, stuff like that. Seems like a lot of owners are goofing off on those items.
     
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  3. Rmay635703

    Rmay635703 Senior Member

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    It seems I’ve alluded to emissions checks being extremely costly.

    Nice to see it in black and white

    Now that , that’s done...

    Perhaps we could focus on the large Commercial polluters that actually drive the majority of pollution?
     
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  4. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    You have to remember this is a huge money-making scheme in many states, so don't expect it to end anytime soon. Some of the poorest states btw have no smog regulations at all, so with many poor folk's cars, they often don't even get tuned - & thus just belch whatever they belch. Funny thing is - Cali hybrids were exempt for many years, simply because the agencies couldn't figure out how to check idle pollution when the darn hybrids wouldn't idle.

    .
     
    #4 hill, Dec 1, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2017
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  5. Rmay635703

    Rmay635703 Senior Member

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    So they could direct tax you $50 or require a pollution test that costs $100 but only adds $50 of profit, which is better?
     
  6. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    No idea, just observations. For instance our last hybrid smog check, they no longer even use an exhaust probe in Cali. At least on hybrids. All they did was hook up to the OBD connector. 90 seconds later - other than the paperwork, he's all done. Nice work if you can get it.
    .
     
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  7. Trollbait

    Trollbait It's a D&D thing

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    We have annual safety and emission tests in Pennsylvania, which are only done at private shops.
    New Jersey has state inspection sites for free, or you could go to a mechanic for a fee. They stopped annual inspections after I left. Now, a new car doesn't need one for the first 4 or 5 years, and it's every other after that.
     
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  8. wjtracy

    wjtracy Senior Member

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    we have some remote drive-by stations getting real world. And I guess you can send that in somehow,
     
  9. ILuvMyPriusToo

    ILuvMyPriusToo Active Member

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    Well, some might say the second plan pumps 100% more into the economy . . .
     
  10. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    If you really want to pump $$ into the system, there's a line on your tax return that allows you to give away as much as you want.

    .
     
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  11. ILuvMyPriusToo

    ILuvMyPriusToo Active Member

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    And the Senate just helped with the hose . . .
     
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  12. southjerseycraig

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    The name of the NBER may mislead some into thinking that it is some kind of governmental agency. In fact, it is an economic analysis outfit that can always be counted on to produce a result questioning the efficacy of environmental protection programs. That said, many smog inspections this day just consist of checks to see that the on-board diagnostic system is working; actual emissions may not even be tested.
     
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  13. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The other One Percenter.....

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    What's a smog check??!!
     
  14. HPrimeAdvanced

    HPrimeAdvanced Senior Member

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    Thank you Mr. Southjerseycraig for that info on the NBER; it's nice to get this important background information to keep things in the proper context! My daily driving experience finds MANY commercial vehicles, large PIG trucks spewing the nasty into our air. The stench of diesel and knowing what it does to people, make driving in the city that much more unpleasant; it's a rare day when you can drive around with your windows down, smelling the fresh air.

    Posted via the PriusChat mobile app.
     
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  15. Raytheeagle

    Raytheeagle Senior Member

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    Just got a smog check done Saturday on our 2010;).

    What did it entail:
    • Hooking up to the OBD2 port
    • Checking for codes
    • Looking at the gas cap
    • A quick 30 second perusal of the engine bay
    • Piece of paper printing saying “passed”
    • Lightening of the wallet by $38
    Out the door in 12 minutes (10 minutes was exchanging pleasantries with a fellow PC member):).

    But good for another 2 years(y).
     
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  16. frodoz737

    frodoz737 Top Wrench

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    NBER's report also stops short of calling for the end of Smog Checks.
     
  17. RCO

    RCO Senior Member

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    Electrification of the railways in the West Country of England is unlikely to meet government cost effectiveness standards, so our diesel-electric engines are all real sooty smokers and exempt from clean air compliance.
     
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  18. bhtooefr

    bhtooefr Senior Member

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    Realistically, for an emissions test to be effective, I'd argue that a dyno component would be helpful, not just OBD-II.

    OBD-II can lie, after all - major automakers have effectively done it (although they cheated the dyno component, too), and I've personally seen various types of ways to lie to an OBD-II scan about the function of an emissions component (ranging from connecting the readiness test to another parameter, to fake ECUs that intercept the OBD-II data).

    However, even without that, there's a deterrent effect, with the visual inspection. This makes it much harder to hide unapproved components, and therefore perform major illegal modifications. Some people go through a "it's inspection time, time to remove all the mods" cycle, but most people don't want to deal with that every year or two, and just don't do the extreme mods. (They might put a mild tune on, and an OBD-II check will probably miss the emissions impact of that, but...)
     
  19. southjerseycraig

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    May I say that EPA was reluctant to go along with the current smog inspection (well described above by Raytheeagle). It thought that there should be an actual test of emissions. But the program was unpopular with state governments, so EPA settled for what exists today. It's kind of ironic for opponents of emissions inspection first to weaken it, and then say, "oh, gee, it doesn't do anything."
     
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