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The Environmental Customer is Always Right?

I've just finished my most recent vehicle emissions test - an evolving process, but one that is still missing some key elements.

I failed my last test, two years ago, so took action to avoid the hassle this time around, based on my lessons the last time - it turned out that procedures have rightly gotten stricter, however bureaucratic obstacles also merit comment.

Current emmissions testing uses the 'On Board Diagnostics' computer on the vehicle to quickly and accurately diagnose engine. That is unless it is the computer which is broken - a not uncommon occurence on a Ford (my brand), and perhaps other brands as well. My OBD has now been fixed, but not without a whole bunch of bullshit in the meantime.

Two years ago Precision Tune in Renton gave me a diagnosis of a bad sensor in my catalytic convertor and wanted to charge me $600 or so to replace it. It turns out that was a false diagnosis, intentional or not they get a thumbs down. They did reset the computer, so at the time I was a happy customer, with a passed (but unfixed) vehicle.

This time around I had the computer reset prior to getting tested - however procedures have no rightly advanced to screen for this - so not only did I not get a pass on my first visit I had to burn another couple of gallons of gas to reset the COMPUTER before I could even get a fail.

After that I took the vehicle to Eagle Tire (a business scheduled for a Sound Transit relocation), within walking distance of my house. I've been to them a few times before and always a happy customer. They correctly diagnosed the problem, and fixed it at a cost not that much higher than the $150 requirement of Gregoire's old department, the Department of Ecology. That was all good - definitely a thumbs up for Eagle Tire.

I've since researched the OBD subject a bit further. Rationale is that the OBD testing protocol is supposed to make things easier. My experience has been quite the opposite, perhaps by an order of magnitude. One big thing I've learned is that emissions warranties are regulated by the EPA and California. EPA information is here.

Confirmed also is my large doubt about Ford's current marketing partnership with Microsoft.


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