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NAPA Recommends An Annual Engine Performance Evaluation

17 December 1998

Emission Testing Targets 'Drive It Until It Dies' Attitude NAPA Recommends An Annual Engine Performance Evaluation
    ATLANTA, Dec. 17 -- The idea of driving an aging car until it
dies without sinking another dollar into it is no longer an option in many
parts of the U.S., due to stricter emission standards for older vehicles.
    According to the National Automotive Parts Association (NAPA), vehicle
owners should get an annual engine performance evaluation to lower the risk of
failing mandatory emission tests.  This evaluation should be performed by an
ASE-certified (Automotive Service Excellence) technician.
    As a result of the 1990 Clean Air Act, many states and metropolitan areas
have recently implemented new or enhanced emission inspection and maintenance
programs.  A passing grade on these tests is mandatory before a vehicle can be
registered.  The older the vehicle, the more pollutants it tends to emit. The
average age of a vehicle in the U.S. is now 8.5 years, the oldest it's been in
more than 40 years.
    NAPA also advises consumers to become familiar with the following
"Symptoms Checklist," which details the signs of a poorly tuned engine:

    *  "Rotten egg," fuel or gas odor
    *  Poor fuel mileage
    *  Excessive black, blue or white smoke
    *  Stalls when slowing or stopping
    *  Lacks power (sluggish)
    *  Idles rough

    If any of these driveability symptoms exist, NAPA recommends that
consumers take their vehicles into a repair shop that offers ASE-certified
technicians and a national warranty program guaranteeing its parts and labor.
    NAPA also recommends that consumers regularly make sure that their hoses
are in good condition and that their gas caps fit tightly, because a high
percentage of emissions result from fuel, gasoline, and vapors that escape
from the fuel tank and carburetor.
    According to NAPA's Director of Technical Services, Jim Kiple,  "If an
engine has running problems, the amount of pollutants released by it
increases.  This is why proper maintenance is so critical.  A poorly tuned
engine can also make the emission-control system ineffective.  And in some
cases, a poorly tuned engine can damage the emission-control devices."

    Tests Targeting Older Vehicles
    In more densely populated areas of the U.S., cities have implemented tests
that target older vehicles, which are considered to be the heavy polluters.
Georgia, California, Texas and Pennsylvania, to name a few, recently
implemented the Acceleration Simulation Mode (ASM) test, an advanced test for
vehicles seven years old or older.  Although testing equipment varies from
city to city, vehicles tend to fail for the following reasons:

    *  Car is unsafe to test
    *  Carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, or hydrocarbon emission levels are
       too high
    *  Catalytic converter is damaged or missing
    *  Gas cap is leaking harmful gasoline vapors

    For tips on finding an honest repair shop, visit NAPA at