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Old 04-28-2015, 09:00 PM   #1
trench619
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Default Failed Smog Check After Erasing Check Engine Light Code

I recently picked up a 2005 Saturn ION Redline (about a week ago). I live in California, which is the nazi of all nazi states when it comes to smog check and vehicle emission standards. I’m not a technical guy by any means when it comes to cars, so I’ll try and make this as readable and clear as I can.

I bought the car off a buddy. I don’t have much money, so he was kind enough to let me make small payments to him until it was paid off. The registration was coming up real soon (like less than two weeks). So I got the car insured under my name real quick and began looking around for a good priced smog place to get the needed smog check done… this smog check needed to be at a “Star Certified” station. While shopping around for a good price, low and behold the check engine light came on the car about 3 days and less than 40 miles of driving it. I took the car over to the same buddy that sold it to me since he had one of those engine check light code readers. The code came out to be P0442; which I guess come out to a possible EVAP system leak. He (since I don’t know much about cars) checked a few things under the hood and looked around and didn't see anything staring us in the face. So he went and erased the code from the system…. The car no longer had the engine check light on. I drove it for a day or two and it did not come back.

So I took the opportunity to go get the smog check done ASAP while the light was not on. Well, if you live in California or other nazi states you can guess how it went. My car failed the smog check!! Little did I know that erasing\removing the check engine light code just erased important emissions related data which is invaluable to a smog technician attempting to check\pass my vehicle. It apparently also deleted very important "readiness flag" data which takes days, if not weeks to compile on the vehicle again. The technician immediately (after taking for $40+ of course) knew that the car recently had a check engine light on it that someone erased, or that someone had unplugged the battery for an extended period of time. He basically said all of the computer data that his test checks for had been removed from the system, and only driving the car for an unknown period of time would bring it back to a point where he could actually do the test. His estimate was somewhere around 100 miles driven on the car before it would\could come back. But he said some manufactories vary on the amount of time, distance, driving conditions, and how many times you turn the car on and off.
He plugged his super tech (not the AutoZone $100 one) computer reader device and showed me two or three flashing circles. One was for the OT Censor & one was for the EVAP Censor. He also began to tell me that on May 5th (7 days away), the California state law was going to change and whatever tech jargon he used to explain the law changes boiled down to whatever I have going on being even more of a PITA to deal with\get passed over.

So I’m looking for any advice I can get on the subject. I’m wondering how much I have to drive this thing in the next few days and what kind of conditions I need to put it under to get the computer info back onto it to a point where he can do the test and I pass….. That’s of course if the check engine light does not come back on in that amount of time.

Thanks for any help you guys can give.

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Old 04-28-2015, 10:50 PM   #2
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Default Re: Failed Smog Check After Erasing Check Engine Light Code

The "drive cycle" is approximately 50 miles of varied driving conditions from cold engine start up. Emissions parameters are erased when a manual reset is performed, as you found out, and cannot pass emissions inspection until the car is driven under the drive cycle procedures. What you can see, from your friend's reader; the readiness monitors have failed to go ready after a reset was done and indicate which ones have passed testing after you started driving and which ones are still being tested before going from not ready status to ready status. Emissions self tests are performed every time the engine is started, car driven and shutdown. Emissions testing is ongoing all the time the engine is running. Readers show the same info as state inspection computers see so having a reader will tell you what monitors haven't passed since driving after the reset was done. Most simply drive the car back and forth to work and anything else we do to allow the car to run all its emissions self tests.

You can Google the drive cycle and try performing the tortuous routine or just drive the car and borrow a reader to see which monitors are ready or which ones aren't. If you are lucky, your car may have only a few monitors left to allow the emissions system to display a 'Ready' status. Whatever you do, don't perform any manual reset again otherwise the entire emissions self tests starts over from the beginning, delaying state inspection.

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Old 04-29-2015, 12:22 PM   #3
trench619
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Default Re: Failed Smog Check After Erasing Check Engine Light Code

Fdryer, thanks so much for the responce. I have driven to and from work 3 days since the code was erased with the reader. Today when I get off wor I'm going to hit the freeway and drive out east into the desert to get some miles under my belt and hopefully get the needed computer info back into the system so I can retake the test on Thursday or friday. I live in San Diego and when I get off work around here the freeways are basically a parking lot.... so heading east into the high desert is the only chance I have at putting some miles on the car without waiting for the open freeway weekend traffic, or driving late at night after traffic dies down.

Now I'm hoping that I'm able to get the needed computer info back onto the system and pray to God the engine check light doesn't come on in the process. You mentioned using a reader to see which monitors are ready and which ones arent. Will the typical autozone reader be able to give me this info? Or is one of the far more expensive and elaborate readers needed for that info? I'm kind or scared to hook the reader up again and end up doing something that will restart the whole process over again as you stated.

Also, do you have any advice on figuring out what caused the P0442 code in the first place? I don't know much about cars and also don't have a lot of money to take the vehicle into a shop and get bent over for hundreds of dollars to figure it out, and probably hundreds more to get it properly fixed.

Thanks so much for the help\advice.

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Old 04-29-2015, 02:55 PM   #4
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Default Re: Failed Smog Check After Erasing Check Engine Light Code

I just dealt with this on my girlfriends Corolla. I replaced the battery and after a month of driving the computer was not ready. This is really surprising considering her drive to work is 30 minutes each way. GM might not be as bad but the Toyota seems to want a very specific run cycle. My drive to work which is 40 minutes and 30 miles seems to do it perfectly. About 30 minutes of highway driving keeping it between 55 and 65 and then stop and go traffic below 45 for about 10 minutes.

Chances are you will know when you've hit the run cycle because the check engine light will come back on. If you haven't fixed the problem it's very likely the code pending until the monitors are ready.

I believe AutoZone uses decent Actron scanners which should tell you if it's ready. On mine it's under Special Tools -> I/M Readiness.

A P0442 istricky to diagnose. I would start by checking all the connections at the evap canister in the back. A quick google search should show you where it is. A competent shop should be able to diagnose this rather quickly because they have the proper equipment to do so. It shouldn't cost much.

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Old 04-29-2015, 10:39 PM   #5
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Default Re: Failed Smog Check After Erasing Check Engine Light Code

Quote:
Originally Posted by deca5423 View Post
A P0442 istricky to diagnose. I would start by checking all the connections at the evap canister in the back. A quick google search should show you where it is. A competent shop should be able to diagnose this rather quickly because they have the proper equipment to do so. It shouldn't cost much.
+1
On my 2007 Ion, I had that code. It ended up being a broken\corroded connector on the Evap canister which was causing a short circuit. The canister is under the car near the gas tank (but accessible from the bottom). In my case the dealer replaced the connector for about $60 parts\labor which made me pretty happy. Yours might be slightly different, mine has the "Federal emissions" system.

...
2007 Saturn Ion 2- Totaled @ 120K miles and dearly missed.
...control arm bushings(x3), wheel bearings, end links, axle seal, intermediate shaft... but still the original battery!

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Old 04-30-2015, 12:24 PM   #6
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Default Re: Failed Smog Check After Erasing Check Engine Light Code

Quote:
Originally Posted by deca5423 View Post
I just dealt with this on my girlfriends Corolla. I replaced the battery and after a month of driving the computer was not ready. This is really surprising considering her drive to work is 30 minutes each way. GM might not be as bad but the Toyota seems to want a very specific run cycle. My drive to work which is 40 minutes and 30 miles seems to do it perfectly. About 30 minutes of highway driving keeping it between 55 and 65 and then stop and go traffic below 45 for about 10 minutes.

Chances are you will know when you've hit the run cycle because the check engine light will come back on. If you haven't fixed the problem it's very likely the code pending until the monitors are ready.

I believe AutoZone uses decent Actron scanners which should tell you if it's ready. On mine it's under Special Tools -> I/M Readiness.

A P0442 istricky to diagnose. I would start by checking all the connections at the evap canister in the back. A quick google search should show you where it is. A competent shop should be able to diagnose this rather quickly because they have the proper equipment to do so. It shouldn't cost much.
Oh man, your really scaring me now!

I hope to God that light doesn't come back one. I put the pedal to the metal (so to say) yesterday after I got off work. I drove the car into the desert quite a while. I made sure to pull over here and there to get some none freeway driving on it as well, I stopped and started the car a few times during the trip as well. I also made sure to use the cruise control; basically anything my non car brain could think of to get cycles going. I now have driven about 200 miles since the check engine light was deleted.

So far no check engine light has come back on. I'm going back to the Smog check place today after work and I'm crossing my fingers it has the proper amount of cycles to have the computer info it needs to pass. I'm also hoping the light doesn't come back on. I don't mind if the light comes back on in a month or so, I kind of want it to so I can get the issue property fixed. But at the moment I'm in a time crunch to get the car registered and also short on money as all the extra cash I did have went to a "down payment" so to say to the buddy that sold it to me.

This whole Smog check process is really stressing me out. It seems like a damn racket the states got going on. I have no issue with cars not polluting the air, but they're making it far to difficult for your everyday Joe like me to get unmolested in the process.

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Old 04-30-2015, 12:29 PM   #7
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Default Re: Failed Smog Check After Erasing Check Engine Light Code

Quote:
Originally Posted by ryan_ion View Post
+1
On my 2007 Ion, I had that code. It ended up being a broken\corroded connector on the Evap canister which was causing a short circuit. The canister is under the car near the gas tank (but accessible from the bottom). In my case the dealer replaced the connector for about $60 parts\labor which made me pretty happy. Yours might be slightly different, mine has the "Federal emissions" system.
Is it typical for a shop to test the car for free, then tell me how much it will be to fix the issue? Or will I have to pay for a diagnosis, then pay for the fix (if I can actually afford) at that time.

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Old 04-30-2015, 05:17 PM   #8
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Default Re: Failed Smog Check After Erasing Check Engine Light Code

Quote:
Originally Posted by trench619 View Post
Is it typical for a shop to test the car for free, then tell me how much it will be to fix the issue? Or will I have to pay for a diagnosis, then pay for the fix (if I can actually afford) at that time.
That all depends where you bring it to.
Some shops offer free diagnostics, other charge a small fee

...
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Old 04-30-2015, 06:32 PM   #9
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Default Re: Failed Smog Check After Erasing Check Engine Light Code

Quote:
Originally Posted by trench619 View Post
...... I live in San Diego ...... You mentioned using a reader to see which monitors are ready and which ones arent. Will the typical autozone reader be able to give me this info? Or is one of the far more expensive and elaborate readers needed for that info? I'm kind or scared to hook the reader up again and end up doing something that will restart the whole process over again as you stated.....
As I understand it, California prohibits Autozone from reading check engine light error codes - no free readings. You either buy your own reader or borrow your friend's reader. No other state prevents accessing error codes from auto stores or repair shops. Using a reader will not reset the engine computer unless its done manually - deliberately scrolling thru the screen display to locate the reset page or pressing a button marked "RESET" otherwise plugging in a reader does no harm while allowing anyone to retrieve error codes stored in their car's memory. Last I heard or read, there is no federal or state law preventing anyone from buying or borrowing a reader to decode engine codes for anyone having a desire to repair their car(s). Disconnecting the car battery will reset memory storing error codes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by trench619 View Post
Also, do you have any advice on figuring out what caused the P0442 code in the first place? I don't know much about cars and also don't have a lot of money to take the vehicle into a shop and get bent over for hundreds of dollars to figure it out, and probably hundreds more to get it properly fixed.
The most likely cause of P0442 may be a loose or worn gas cap gasket allowing a small evap system leak. A fuel pressure sensor on the tank measures small leaks. Check the gas cap gasket for dry rot and the filler neck for debris.

From the service manual; This diagnostic tests the evaporative emission (EVAP) system for a small leak when the key is turned OFF and the correct conditions are met.

Heat from the exhaust system is transferred into a vehicle fuel tank while the vehicle is operating. When the vehicle is turned OFF and the EVAP system is sealed, a change in the fuel tank vapor temperature occurs, which results in corresponding pressure changes in the fuel tank vapor space. This change is monitored by the control module using the fuel tank pressure sensor input. The control module then makes a judgement on the integrity of the system. With a 0.51 mm (0.020 in) leak in the system, the amount of pressure change observed is significantly less than that of a sealed system.

If the control module detects a pressure change less than a calibrated amount, DTC P0442 sets.

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Old 05-01-2015, 11:58 AM   #10
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Default Re: Failed Smog Check After Erasing Check Engine Light Code

Well, I got some good news. I took my car in yesterday for another Smog check and it passed! I wasn't really worried that it was emitting pollution or anything, just that there wouldn't be enough computer cycle data, or that the engine check light would come on before I was able to get enough data to have the test ran.

If anyone is interested, from the time I erased the engine code\on board computer data; it took 7 days until I was able to pass. I drove the car to work and back 6 of those days for about 15 miles round trip, and one of the days I drove it on a 100 mile trip on the freeway with 2-3 quick stops with shutting off the engine and starting it again. The total miles being somewhere around 190.

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