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Drive Clean test - get it now if check engine light is on

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  • Jan 18th, 2013 1:58 pm
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May 24, 2008
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Drive Clean test - get it now if check engine light is on

Check out this article (full text below).

This applies to me as the check engine light has been on for a couple of years on my Protege5. Both cats are damaged, but it still passes the e-test, so I haven't bothered changing them. With the OBD test I will get an automatic fail, but at least I can avoid it for another couple of years by taking an early test this year. Tests are valid for a year, so that's why the article advises to get it done the new year. My problem is having my birthday in December, so it doesn't leave me much of a window to get the test done!

........................................

Get cracking on e-test to avoid a retest

Drive Clean is changing in 2013. Some vehicles that would pass today will fail the new test, but there is a one-time loophole — provided you act fast.

If your vehicle requires a test next year (all even model-years from 1988-2006), get it done before the end of 2012, after your birthday has passed. An e-test “pass” is good for one year but must be valid on the plate renewal date, normally your birthday.

Presently, a vehicle with the “check engine” light on may pass, but next year that’s an automatic fail.

Electrical engineer and Drive Clean expert Eli Melnick of Start Auto Electric (www.startauto.com) in Toronto explains:

Starting January 2013, light-duty vehicles of model-year 1998 and newer will undergo an OBD (On-Board Diagnostics) test in place of the current tailpipe test. A government — approved test unit will be plugged in to communicate with your vehicle’s on-board computer.

Under the OBD protocol adopted by Environment Canada, the on-board computer continuously performs a series of self-tests (while driving) of the various emission control systems. If a problem is detected, the OBD computer turns on the “Check Engine” or “Service Engine Soon” warning light.

Your vehicle will fail Drive Clean if the Check Engine light is on.

Further, the new test checks the status of the self-tests, also known as monitors. If the monitor self-tests haven’t been successfully completed, a Drive Clean fail will ensue. Erasing the on-board computer memory with a scan tool or by disconnecting the battery will clear all the monitors and again yield an automatic Drive Clean failure.

Once cleared, it could take two to four days of combined city and highway driving to allow the monitors to complete self-tests on most well-running vehicles. So, don’t wait until the last moment to get your car e-tested. Should your vehicle fail, it may take several days to complete the necessary repairs and get the monitors ready for a retest.

If your Check Engine light is on, it’s still advisable to complete the Drive Clean test and use the report to identify the problem area. The $35 fee is not unreasonable given the diagnostic information it yields.

Vehicles with monitors that are “not ready” will fail the new test. However, 1998-2000 model-year vehicles are permitted two monitors to be “not ready,” and 2001 and newer models are allowed one monitor “not ready,” and still pass. Most cars have four to five monitors.

Cars, vans and light trucks of model-years 1988 to 1997 aren’t OBD compatible and will receive a tailpipe test, similar to the current test.

Start Auto Electric is a beta-site for evaluating the new OBD test system and we’ve been using it since last March. (If you fail the OBD test in 2012, you’re given the old test — and a second chance to pass — at no extra cost. Next year, the old test is history.)

Most OBD tests can be completed in less than ten minutes.
25 replies
Deal Addict
Oct 5, 2008
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Brampton
I guess all your emission control systems have to be working in order to pass. More money for mechanics.
Deal Fanatic
Feb 2, 2007
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Toronto
Sweet. Old cars that aren't OBD compatible ftw.
M-e-X-x wrote:
Nov 27th, 2011 7:22 am
Booty call AND you get gas money? Sweet!
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Banned
Sep 22, 2008
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that is why they use anti foulers for the secondary O2 sensor to fool your computer that the cat is working :)
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Mar 20, 2009
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It has been this way with AirCare in BC (Vancouver area) for many years. The emissions test is every 2nd year and now basically amounts to checking if the Check Engine light is on. But the private company that runs the emission tests still gets the same fee as when they did an actual emissions test. Everyone agrees that the AirCare program's time has passed and it's a waste of time and money, but the government is afraid to be seen as anti-green if they cancel the program (not to mention that the very profitable private company is run by friends of the government).
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Jan 27, 2004
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Oh man.
I just got mine done in October... My E-test and plate renewal is good till NOV 2014.
Hopefully my e-test doesn't fail at that time!
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Dec 20, 2005
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YESSSSS...passing obd2 scan can be soo much easier than passing a damn tailpipe test. After all a computer relies on sensors. Make the sensors see what you want them to see and you're golden. Ppl should be happy for this not sad lol
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Dec 12, 2005
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Guelph
Someone can go to a test only facility to avoid scamming auto repair shops.
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packardbell wrote:
Nov 9th, 2012 3:36 pm
that is why they use anti foulers for the secondary O2 sensor to fool your computer that the cat is working :)
If it's just OBD, I don't have to swap back to my cats once emissions come around. Already got an anti foulers for my test pipes :D
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sears_sucks wrote:
Nov 11th, 2012 5:25 pm
Someone can go to a test only facility to avoid scamming auto repair shops.
Word is ALL shops will have to be at this standard by next year. In ottawa, i know of a few dealers that already have gotten their new equipment in...
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Feb 12, 2008
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I'm going to need anti foulers now to account for my lack of cats lol
iownyou wrote:
Jun 22nd, 2012 7:43 pm
U should spend 1000bucks a year on fixing your brain....
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tsxnation wrote:
Nov 11th, 2012 10:52 pm
I'm going to need anti foulers now to account for my lack of cats lol
~$10 gets you two at Napa. Drill them out so your o2's can fit through and you're golden.
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Feb 12, 2008
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Perfect. Sad that they are only 4$ per pair in buffalo.
iownyou wrote:
Jun 22nd, 2012 7:43 pm
U should spend 1000bucks a year on fixing your brain....
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tsxnation wrote:
Nov 12th, 2012 2:07 pm
Perfect. Sad that they are only 4$ per pair in buffalo.
You've got a year or so...if you make a trip pick them up there; if not 6$ difference isnt huge for not having to make a 1h30min trip for two spark plug non foulers.
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Jr. Member
Apr 24, 2011
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Scarborough
My sticker expires April 2013. If I did the e-test now, my e-test pass would be valid once I'm due for renewal in April 2013 and I'll be good until April 2015 (assuming that I purchase the 2-year sticker)?
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