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#1
Old 12-21-2010, 09:25 PM
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"Check Engine Light" e-check(Ohio) and passing the e-check

My son has a 2003 Toyota Camry. It used to be mine. I had a "check engine" light on last year when it had to be e-checked(this is EPA mandated in many major metro areas in OHIO due to air pollution. We live in Akron.

I took it(last year) to my local trusted repair place. They told me I needed a new catalytic converter(I suspected this). They reset the "check engine" light. Next morning, the "check engine" light was still off. I took it to the e-check station and it passed. Good for me.

My friend has a meter that checks the codes(much like Autozone will do) and you can hit a button that "resets" your "check engine" light. He did it with his car last year, but the e-check people seemed to realize that he had done this. I don't think my test with my Camry roused suspicion, but I could be mis-remembering.

My question is--will this pass if I reset the light with my friend's meter?

I'll accept any answers.
#2
Old 12-21-2010, 09:30 PM
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There is a certain length of time or distance driven, for which the computer that reads the code will say "Not Enough Data" and you probably won't be able to pass the test. It is about 50 miles. If you get past this point, you may still have some period of time/distance driven for which the car will pass the test, but before the computer decides something is wrong.
#3
Old 12-21-2010, 09:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem View Post
I'll accept any answers.
<walks on eggshells with a moderator>

Are you asking how to circumvent a state emissions check so as to avoid a needed emissions upgrade to your son's vehicle?


<\walks on eggshells with a moderator>

Well, ...
Quote:
According to Ohio Revised Code Section 3704.16, tampering means "to remove permanently, bypass, defeat, or render inoperative, in whole or in part, any emission control system that is installed on or in a motor vehicle". Tampering includes acts such as removing the catalytic converter from a vehicle and installing a straight pipe, removing the substrate from inside the catalytic converter ("cleaning" it out), removing an air pump or disabling the air pump by removing the air pump belt, or installing a nonstandard thermostatic air cleaner.

Under state law, it is illegal to sell, lease, rent, or operate a vehicle in a tampered condition. Removing a pollution control device from a vehicle is illegal. Likewise, selling or installing a device that would hamper the effectiveness of any vehicle pollution control system is prohibited. Individuals--as well as car dealerships, muffler shops, and repair facilities--are prohibited from tampering with a motor vehicle.
http://epa.ohio.gov/dapc/echeck/othe...ms/tamper.aspx

My non-lawyer view is that using your friend's meter to reset the vehicle's emissions system (check light) is tampering if your intent is to "fraudulently" pass the e-check so you don't have to buy/install a new catalytic converter.
#4
Old 12-21-2010, 09:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duckster View Post
<walks on eggshells with a moderator>

Are you asking how to circumvent a state emissions check so as to avoid a needed emissions upgrade to your son's vehicle?


<\walks on eggshells with a moderator>

Well, ...
http://epa.ohio.gov/dapc/echeck/othe...ms/tamper.aspx

My non-lawyer view is that using your friend's meter to reset the vehicle's emissions system (check light) is tampering if your intent is to "fraudulently" pass the e-check so you don't have to buy/install a new catalytic converter.
Unless something has changed, E checks are not based on the car computer. They are based on sensor readings from the exhaust.
#5
Old 12-21-2010, 10:06 PM
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Until recently, I had a 1994 Honda Accord and last year or the year before, I had to replace the catalytic converter to pass the emissions test, but I was surprised to find that it cost "only" $200-300. (I thought it was going to be many hundreds of dollars.) So it may not be that expensive to replace it, and if doing so means your emissions are lower, it might be worth it.

Last edited by Dewey Finn; 12-21-2010 at 10:06 PM.
#6
Old 12-21-2010, 10:16 PM
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Sam, you are not the only one with the problem ---> http://townhall-talk.edmunds.com/direct/view/.f16db86
#7
Old 12-21-2010, 11:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
Until recently, I had a 1994 Honda Accord and last year or the year before, I had to replace the catalytic converter to pass the emissions test, but I was surprised to find that it cost "only" $200-300. (I thought it was going to be many hundreds of dollars.) So it may not be that expensive to replace it, and if doing so means your emissions are lower, it might be worth it.
Guess here. The computer "knows" on a 2003 whether you install a "genuine Toyota part" or an aftermarket part. I'm gonna assume that in 1994, the computer didn't notice the difference. Now it does. Talked to two mechanics. It "notices" these days. It's at least $800.
#8
Old 12-21-2010, 11:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duckster View Post
<walks on eggshells with a moderator>

Are you asking how to circumvent a state emissions check so as to avoid a needed emissions upgrade to your son's vehicle?


<\walks on eggshells with a moderator>

Well, ...
http://epa.ohio.gov/dapc/echeck/othe...ms/tamper.aspx

My non-lawyer view is that using your friend's meter to reset the vehicle's emissions system (check light) is tampering if your intent is to "fraudulently" pass the e-check so you don't have to buy/install a new catalytic converter.
I don't live in Ohio, but I was a licensed smog technician in California (whose rules are stricter than just about anywhere else)
Resetting a light is not considered tampering under the law. Otherwise every shop that did any repair and reset the light would be guilty of "tampering"
Putting black tape over the check engine light would be tampering
Removing the bulb would be missing
Wiring a relay so that with the hood open, the check engine light is inoperative, would be modified.
2003 would be an OBDII car with on board monitors. When you reset the check engine light, all the monitors are reset to a not ready state.
From the Ohio e-check FAQS
Quote:
What does "not ready" mean?

A service technician will turn off the dashboard "check engine" light after most repairs. This resets the vehicle's emission system components to "not ready". The status remains "not ready" until the vehicle's computer has had adequate time to review the repaired component. This happens after the vehicle is driven for a period of time established by the manufacturer.

If the vehicle's emissions system status is "not ready" when it is presented at the E-Check station during the initial test cycle, a tailpipe emissions test may be conducted. If the vehicle is transferred to another test type, the vehicle must remain on the different test track until the vehicle passes the emissions test or receives a waiver. For example, if the vehicle undergoes an OBD II test and fails, it cannot be downgraded to a tailpipe test on a re-test; the vehicle must pass the OBD II test.

For initial and subsequent tests, if a dashboard light is on when the vehicle is presented at the E-Check station, the vehicle will fail the test.
So if I am reading this correctly if you reset the light, and the system is not ready, they will tail pipe the car, and if it passes you are good to go.
This is actually a gift. Here in California if the system is not ready, you have to come back. then they do a tail pipe and the e-check.
#9
Old 12-21-2010, 11:33 PM
Graphite is a great
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duckster View Post
<walks on eggshells with a moderator>

Are you asking how to circumvent a state emissions check so as to avoid a needed emissions upgrade to your son's vehicle?


<\walks on eggshells with a moderator>

Well, ...
http://epa.ohio.gov/dapc/echeck/othe...ms/tamper.aspx

My non-lawyer view is that using your friend's meter to reset the vehicle's emissions system (check light) is tampering if your intent is to "fraudulently" pass the e-check so you don't have to buy/install a new catalytic converter.
Good report. No, not trying to do anything illegal. I wouldn't do that.

I know the vehicle needs a new catalytic converter. I trust my local mechanic.

But, I can afford that for my son much better about 10 months from now. If the car can pass the tailpipe emmisions test, then it's all ok. Turning off the light for a day isn't illegal.
#10
Old 12-22-2010, 11:21 AM
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For those that don't know:

Many emission inspections done by various states will be denied and/or failed if the "check engine" light is on or was recently reset [wherein recently means the engine's own diagnostic routine has not cycled sufficientlu through a combination of miles/time and other engine conditions (warm up and cool down cycles)].

An example helps: Pull up to a state-run inspection station in NJ and this sign greets you: You can have your vehicle inspected with the check engine light on, but you will not be given the emissions and diagnostic portion of the test... as this is considered a failure, etc etc... (just paraphrasing).

They'll will also explain why just resetting or disabling the light won't work:

The gist of that is that resetting the light at some shop and driving straight back to the inspection station will wind up with the inspector plugging their equipment into data port on your car, because they don't see the check engine light on, but the diagnostic equipment will still see this as a 'fail', because the computer does not have full diagnostic info, because the car lacks the miles/time and cycles.

Last edited by Philster; 12-22-2010 at 11:23 AM.
#11
Old 12-22-2010, 02:24 PM
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Quote:
Guess here. The computer "knows" on a 2003 whether you install a "genuine Toyota part" or an aftermarket part. I'm gonna assume that in 1994, the computer didn't notice the difference. Now it does. Talked to two mechanics. It "notices" these days. It's at least $800.
unlikely; the converter doesn't have any active electronics on it. The only way the engine management would know that the converter's not genuine is if it doesn't work; e.g. the downstream EGO sensor doesn't read differently enough from the upstream.
#12
Old 12-22-2010, 08:55 PM
Graphite is a great
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick View Post
So if I am reading this correctly if you reset the light, and the system is not ready, they will tail pipe the car, and if it passes you are good to go.
This is actually a gift. Here in California if the system is not ready, you have to come back. then they do a tail pipe and the e-check.
I'm sure you're reading OHio's law correctly. Yep, we can get by on the tailpipe test. Lucky I guess.
#13
Old 12-22-2010, 09:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem View Post
Guess here. The computer "knows" on a 2003 whether you install a "genuine Toyota part" or an aftermarket part. I'm gonna assume that in 1994, the computer didn't notice the difference. Now it does. Talked to two mechanics. It "notices" these days. It's at least $800.
As has been said, the converter has no electronics. Furthermore if a car company did mount electronics into the converter (say similar to what printer makers do with ink cartridges) so that an aftermarket item would not work, the Feds would have their ass in court in a New York minute. This is absolutely against federal law.
This does not imply that a $200 aftermarket converter is as good as a $800 factory unit, it might not be. But it would be illegal to prevent someone from making a replacement for your car.
#14
Old 12-22-2010, 09:07 PM
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As an aside - The first time I saw a car with a Check Engine light (about 1983) I wondered exactly what you were supposed to do when it comes on. Open the hood and say, "Yup, it's still there"?
#15
Old 12-22-2010, 09:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick View Post
As has been said, the converter has no electronics. Furthermore if a car company did mount electronics into the converter (say similar to what printer makers do with ink cartridges) so that an aftermarket item would not work, the Feds would have their ass in court in a New York minute. This is absolutely against federal law.
This does not imply that a $200 aftermarket converter is as good as a $800 factory unit, it might not be. But it would be illegal to prevent someone from making a replacement for your car.
I think what happens is, if you install an aftermarket converter on a 2003 Camry, the check engine light will come back on and stay on. The computer, for whatever reason, senses it.
#16
Old 12-22-2010, 09:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem View Post
I think what happens is, if you install an aftermarket converter on a 2003 Camry, the check engine light will come back on and stay on. The computer, for whatever reason, senses it.
As stated above, there would be a pre and post ox sensor in relation to the converter. The only thing a computer can do is respond to the input from the sensor.

I don't understand why you're getting checked. Ohio shut down E-checks in all the counties in my area. I find it hard to believe everybody is driving a 57 Chevy in Akron/Cleveland area causing that much more pollution.
#17
Old 12-23-2010, 11:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrotherCadfael View Post
As an aside - The first time I saw a car with a Check Engine light (about 1983) I wondered exactly what you were supposed to do when it comes on. Open the hood and say, "Yup, it's still there"?
a steady CEL means a fault in the engine management system was detected which could be causing the car's pollutant emissions to exceed specification. A flashing CEL generally means a fault is occurring which can lead to damage of the catalyst, e.g. a persistent misfire.

eta: for anyone who wants to know, that is.

Last edited by jz78817; 12-23-2010 at 11:05 AM.
#18
Old 12-23-2010, 11:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem View Post
I think what happens is, if you install an aftermarket converter on a 2003 Camry, the check engine light will come back on and stay on. The computer, for whatever reason, senses it.
That is because the aftermarket item is a piece of shit, not because of anything Toyota did. While I have not looked I am sure you can find an aftermarket unit that does work, and won't light a CEL on this car. The problem is quality costs and it might approach the cost of the factory unit.
Or you can spend a small amount of money and get a Chinese replacement that A) does not fit worth a damn, and B) doesn't work. But hey it was cheap.
#19
Old 01-02-2011, 11:55 PM
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I agree, the Chinese stuff are flooding the international market, the cheapest, good to look at but the worst and if not worst yeah, worth the price we spent. So it's better to spend a lil more and get some good stuffs.
#20
Old 01-20-2012, 01:10 PM
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Questionable situation

I would question that you reset the heck engine light then passed the test the next day. The cars computer is set so that you MUST put the car through it's paces (run in each gear so many times, go faster than a certain speed and in general, do all the things that a car normally does. This is usually done in about 50 miles or so. If you try to test it before its ready, the car computer says that it does not have enough data. If the check engine light stays off after that point, it is safe to drive without any fear of damage.

As far as I know there is no law, not any need for one, to say you can't reset it. If you look at the units for sale, all of them have a reset button. How could that be if it's against the law to rset it?

Yes, I know that AutoZone and Advance Auto says that it's against the law, but they are wrong. Ask them to show you that or site the specific law. I suspect that their reason is that some people would be brng that same car in every day to see it the problem goes away ( it probably won't)
#21
Old 01-20-2012, 02:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem View Post
Guess here. The computer "knows" on a 2003 whether you install a "genuine Toyota part" or an aftermarket part.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jz78817 View Post
unlikely; the converter doesn't have any active electronics on it. The only way the engine management would know that the converter's not genuine is if it doesn't work; e.g. the downstream EGO sensor doesn't read differently enough from the upstream.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick View Post
As has been said, the converter has no electronics....This does not imply that a $200 aftermarket converter is as good as a $800 factory unit, it might not be.
Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem View Post
I think what happens is, if you install an aftermarket converter on a 2003 Camry, the check engine light will come back on and stay on. The computer, for whatever reason, senses it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Magiver View Post
As stated above, there would be a pre and post ox sensor in relation to the converter. The only thing a computer can do is respond to the input from the sensor.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick View Post
That is because the aftermarket item is a piece of shit, not because of anything Toyota did. While I have not looked I am sure you can find an aftermarket unit that does work, and won't light a CEL on this car.
Let me see if I can clear this up.

The computer does not directly sense a non-factory converter, as stated it monitors the oxygen sensor readings of the gases exiting the converter.

Aftermarket parts are typically reverse-engineered; a factory part is examined and a replacement part is designed to duplicate its function. While this is successful the great majority of the time, there are cases where for some reason the aftermarket part doesn't measure up to the job. Experience in the field has shown that for some applications, even good quality aftermarket converters will end up triggering the check engine light. Presumably the factory set-up is very touchy about the readings it's programmed to see and the aftermarket converter is just not engineered precisely enough to meet all the parameters. So for some cars, the computer will "know" there's a non-factory part because that part doesn't exactly duplicate the factory function as measured by the relevant sensor(s). The part may or may not be a piece of crap, but if it doesn't keep the light off it's still not good enough.
#22
Old 01-20-2012, 02:03 PM
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OBD II diagnostic systems use Monitors (up to eleven) that are a set of diagnostice strategies programmed into the PCM (car's computer) to tell the PCM when to turn on the check engine light.

Each monitor watches a separate part of the engine's system and uses a set of conditions called Enabling Criteria. Some monitors conditions only require that the engine is on, others require a number of cold starts, engine warming to operating temperature or driving conditions such as accelerating, cruising, etc.These cycles are called 'trip drive cycles' and the amount of driving to satisfy the cycles for all the monitors will vary. Once the enabling criteria for all monitors have been met you have 1 OBD II Drive Cycle.

When you clear the codes the PCM will read something like 'Monitor has not run'. This is how the testers know you have cleared the codes and your car is not ready for the emissions test.

It is possible to clear the codes, go through enough cycles to get the PCM to read ready to test, but not go through enough cycles to reset a trouble code and light the engine light. A 'sweet spot' where you can pass the test.

But you probably are not going to be able to know when you have reached that spot. You may have just got lucky when you previously had codes cleared and passed the test.

Most of the information above is from the manual for my handy little OBD II tester that stays in my glove compartment. I got it several years ago because the local gas station idiots kept not putting the gas cap on correctly causing an EVAP code and an engine light. No, I am not allowed to pump my own gas in Oregon.

It has come in very handy for tracking down other engine issues too. I highly recommed getting one if you are the sort of person who ever opens the hood of your car, changes plugs, or does routine maintenance. Best $100 I ever spent.

Last edited by Dallas Jones; 01-20-2012 at 02:06 PM.
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