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Old 09-03-2011, 10:34 AM   #1
GoSaturn1
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Question Reprogramming PCM caused NYS inspection to fail -- why?

Hi guys -- long-time lurker, love this website, first post. Did a search of forum archives but came up empty-handed. Quick intro first:

Driving Saturns since 1993 and convinced rest of family to buy multiple Saturns for themselves over the years. Currently have a 2005 Vue AWD (3.5L L66 V6 engine), non-Red Line, automatic transmission. My 4th Saturn.

A while ago, I brought in my Vue to an authorized Saturn service provider for the PCM reprogramming and to do my annual New York State safety/emissions inspection.

The tech reprogrammed with the new firmware then attempted to do the inspection. Couldn't, because due to the reprogramming, some kind of diag code was set causing the inspection process to fail.

He said to come back in a week or two and retry the inspection; by then, the status should clear. Yep, it did. Inspection then passed.

My questions: just out of curiosity, what is set? Some kind of DTC trouble code? And is it time-based (ie wait 7 days) or is it mileage-based (ie drive 500 miles) before it clears? Something else? Any insight would be much appreciated.

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Old 09-03-2011, 12:03 PM   #2
99WhiteC5Coupe
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Default Re: Reprogramming PCM caused NYS inspection to fail -- why?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoSaturn1 View Post
Hi guys -- long-time lurker, love this website, first post. Did a search of forum archives but came up empty-handed. Quick intro first:

Driving Saturns since 1993 and convinced rest of family to buy multiple Saturns for themselves over the years. Currently have a 2005 Vue AWD (3.5L L66 V6 engine), non-Red Line, automatic transmission. My 4th Saturn.

A while ago, I brought in my Vue to an authorized Saturn service provider for the PCM reprogramming and to do my annual New York State safety/emissions inspection.

The tech reprogrammed with the new firmware then attempted to do the inspection. Couldn't, because due to the reprogramming, some kind of diag code was set causing the inspection process to fail.

He said to come back in a week or two and retry the inspection; by then, the status should clear. Yep, it did. Inspection then passed.

My questions: just out of curiosity, what is set? Some kind of DTC trouble code? And is it time-based (ie wait 7 days) or is it mileage-based (ie drive 500 miles) before it clears? Something else? Any insight would be much appreciated.

You should be asking the "tech" or the service manager at the authorized Saturn service provider why the vehicle did not pass after they worked on the vehicle.

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Old 09-03-2011, 12:32 PM   #3
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Default Re: Reprogramming PCM caused NYS inspection to fail -- why?

What the 'authorized' service tech couldn't describe to you unless he's an inexperienced tech are the readiness monitors internal to the pcm. All OBD II engine control computers are basically the most sophisticated EFI system to date; every one of them performs an emissions self test each and every time the engine is started/car driven. If you noticed over the years, at one time we had to have tail pipe sniffers as part of the emissions inspection when catalytic converters first came out. Added to tail pipe sniffers were the rollers to force the cars to undergo a load test at various speeds to test emissions at speed. They've been eliminated when OBD II replaced OBD I. The emissions self test is now performed internally with a complete program in each ecm/pcm.

The readiness monitors are comprised of every sensor that is checked at the power on self test. Once this test completes another set of diagnostics is run while the engine warms up; all the sensors are feeding the pcm information including the O2 sensors; as soon as open loop (cold engine) mode is left for closed loop (fully warmed up engine) mode, the engine is monitored for emissions via both O2 sensors. As the sensors report emissions that meet a range to fall within that range without fail, the lack of any SES indicator means your engine passed state or federal emissions standard, long before you make the appointment to the inspection station. Whenever the engine is started, car driven and then shut down without the SES indicator turning on, your car is tested for emissions and passes each time. The readiness monitor message can be read on almost any reader as either a GO or NO GO message.

When the pcm was programmed, the pcm was essentially reset back to factory specs and requires one drive cycle; start up cold, warm up while driving, some miles at local and highway speed, and finally engine shut down. All the sensors feeding signals to the pcm is monitored for accuracy and timeliness and if everything goes correctly, in as little as one drive to work the readiness monitors sees correct signals and the pcm has seen and run the engine correctly without fail. The first drive without the SES light turning ON meant the car passed emissions during its own self tests. The state inspection is just a formality for bureaucratic correctness.

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Old 09-03-2011, 01:59 PM   #4
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Thumbs Up Re: Reprogramming PCM caused NYS inspection to fail -- why?

Wow! MANY thanks to both 99WhiteC5Coupe and fdryer!

99WhiteC5Coupe: very good lesson learned, indeed -- I will be more assertive, though in a polite and respectful way, about not leaving the dealership until I'm satisfied I fully understand reason for any failure.

fdryer: I followed that explanation -- absolutely perfect! Sounds like the dealership didn't want to take the time to do a test drive; probably dealing with the service backlog that day. I'll keep that in mind for the future.

Again, I immensely appreciate both members' insight and advice. Thanks again!!! I'll be sure to consider looking for a different authorized Saturn service provider with more clued-in techs.

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Old 09-03-2011, 04:09 PM   #5
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Default Re: Reprogramming PCM caused NYS inspection to fail -- why?

As mentioned the readiness monitors would have been reset with a reprogram.

With the shop knowing that the car was in for an inspection they should have done the inspection first. That would have let the car pass (if there weere no other issues) and then they could do the reprogram.

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Old 09-06-2011, 08:32 PM   #6
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Default Re: Reprogramming PCM caused NYS inspection to fail -- why?

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Originally Posted by ssicarman View Post
As mentioned the readiness monitors would have been reset with a reprogram.

With the shop knowing that the car was in for an inspection they should have done the inspection first. That would have let the car pass (if there weere no other issues) and then they could do the reprogram.
very true

I did the PCM reset myself on my 99 SLS right before inspection and experienced the same thing a few years ago. Took about 100 miles for the inspection computer to read the PCM. I learned my lession after that.

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