At our smog check station in Santa Maria, one of the most frequent and frustrating causes of a failed smog test is the fact that the vehicle’s on-board diagnostic computer has not completed the required number of self-checks. This means the vehicle is in a “not ready” condition and therefore is unable to successfully complete a California state smog inspection. This type of scenario applies to vehicles which are model years 1996 and newer.
This type of situation is most commonly caused by an interruption in battery power right before the vehicle is brought in for a Smog Test Santamaria. An interruption in battery power means anything that interferes with the battery connections. For example, if your car or truck dies and you have to jump-begin it to get it running again, this process creates an interruption in battery power which erases the memory of the on-board computer. If you have a dead battery and take it somewhere to be replaced, this also created an interruption in battery power. Simply having the battery cables disconnected to remove corrosion from the battery terminals also causes this type of situation.
When the computer’s memory has been erased, it has no information to report during a smog inspection. Since it has no information to report, the vehicle will fail a smog inspection for being in a “not ready” condition. Many people are unaware of this fact and become angry and frustrated after receiving the bad news.
Once you become aware of this information, there is a very simple process you can do on your own to correct the situation before bringing your vehicle in for a smog check. This process is known as “drive cycles”. Running a vehicle through drive cycles means simply driving the car or truck under the right conditions, at certain speeds, for the necessary amount of miles in order for the on-board diagnostic computer to complete the required self-checks so that it can restore the memory.
There are many resources online which can provide you with the correct method of performing drive cycles. Many times you can complete this task in one day. On occasion, some vehicles take a little longer but you will most likely be able to complete this process on your own which will save you a nice chunk of change. Once again, this information is only relevant for vehicles from model years 1996 and newer. If your vehicle is a model year 1995 or older, you don’t need to worry about an interruption in battery power affecting the results of a smog inspection.