Auto Troubleshooting: Understanding The Common Problem Signs

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A Guide To Seemingly Minor Issues That Could Result In Your Vehicle Not Passing Its Safety And Emissions Tests

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In many states, most vehicles are required to pass an annual safety test, which is often accompanied by an emissions test of the exhaust system. The safety tests differ from one state to another and evaluate a variety of the vehicle's features and includes checking on the functionality of obvious concerns like the brakes, tires, and wheels. While those big items are easy to understand the need for, there are some smaller issues that could also result in your vehicle being deemed unsafe to drive. The emissions tests are federally mandated and aren't required in every state. They are performed primarily to verify that the exhaust system has appropriate, legal amounts of carbon dioxide, oxygen, etc. Failing those evaluations will also prevent the automobile from being permitted to drive. Therefore, if you'll soon need to have your current vehicle inspected and want to have your car pass on the first try, it's a good idea to be aware of the following information.

If The Tread Of The Tires Are Too Worn

Even if you have not incurred a flat tire or had trouble stopping your car suddenly, you might still have inadequate tread on your tires to pass that portion of the safety test. Fortunately, there is an easy way to check for that and will cos just a penny that you will get back immediately after. 

Simply put the penny into the tread of the tire, with Mr. Lincoln's head upside down and facing you. If you can see his entire face, it means that the tire tread is less than 1/16  of an inch and your car is unlikely to pass inspection. It's best to check all of the tires in the same way and be prepared to replace one or more of then in order to be able to safely and legally drive your car.

When The Check Engine Light Comes On...But There's Nothing Wrong With The Engine

Although some people have been known to drive around for months and years with that "Check engine" light on, doing so is rarely a good idea. Specifically, that light is the car telling you of an issue, even though the issue is not being portrayed accurately by the warning. 

For example, a common and easily remedied problem that can trigger that light, thus resulting in the vehicle failing its safety inspection, is a badly sized, misaligned, missing or damaged gas cap. In some instances, that issue could also result in your vehicle failing the emissions test. Since the gas cap keeps the gas fumes from the tank from polluting the air, while also preventing debris and contaminants from entering the tank, it's an important item to be aware of. When its functions are impaired, that pesky light appears and you might find that your vehicle cannot be driven again until the issue has been resolved and the car has passed inspection.    

In conclusion, safety and emissions tests on automobiles aren't required in every state. If you live in an area that does require one or both of those evaluations and are concerned that your car might fail, the above facts can help you to better understand minor issues that you might be able to correct on your own before you see the mechanic.