Smog testing a necessary stress?
I sat in the waiting room yesterday, palms sweating, heart racing, and the anxiety rising watching with increasing dismay as clients ahead of me received bad news. I wasn’t in a lawyer’s office, at the doctor’s or with the CPA … I was at … the smog shop waiting to see if my car would pass the test.
I have mixed feelings about the smog requirements for cars in California. I’m all about elevating the air quality in our state. I’ve been to enough other areas of the country to appreciate that we care about the environment and pass laws to ensure California stays clean and green. But if you’re a car owner, it’s become quite costly to pay for all the expenses to keep your car in line with the regulations.
For instance, the engine light came on nearly two years ago on my 2007 Hyundai Accent, just after it passed smog and the light stayed on until this month, when I had to address what was behind the light. I am fortunate to have a husband who has managed to navigate several vehicles through the smog process, and owned a code reader that identifies the problems related to the engine light. I’m further blessed that he can interpret those codes enough to apply the fix and hope that fixes the problem. Usually it means replacing some small part having to do with exhaust or some such thing, thus turning off that pesky engine light, and clearing the codes. But it doesn’t always work out that easily. With our Ford Taurus some years ago, we kept replacing parts but the light remained on, and the codes continued flashing, and our frustration level grew. I think we finally ended up doing a head gasket job before the car finally passed smog.
In the case of the Hyundai, the part seemed to fix the engine light issue, and the codes went away. I drove to the smog shop with some confidence, trying to be reassured that logically everything should work out just fine.
But as I sat in the waiting area, I listened as one car after another wasn’t passing. The timing of the Chevy Blazer was accurate, but now the fuel air was too rich … so fail. Another gentleman was told that he shouldn’t have his “friends” fix the car for a smog check, but take it to a reputable mechanic who knew what they were doing. And a third was just told flat out, your car didn’t pass … you need to figure this out and come back. By the time my car came around, I was already mentally prepared to pay late fees on the car registration and humbly ask my husband for some more help.
The guy came in from the garage and I held my breath, sure he was going to kindly be the bearer of bad news … when he said, “You’re all set … your car passed!” It was all I could do not to shout out a big “Yes!” He smiled and I paid … at this point not caring about the expense of smog and car registration, but just relieved that I wouldn’t have to deal with this for another two years.
By the way, of the six of us who were in the waiting room, only three cars passed. I’m sure it was just a coincidence that all the women’s cars sailed through, and the guys were sent away with work to do. And if you’re looking for a smog shop in Napa … just drive down Soscol … there’s at least five of them within a two mile stretch.