NAPA Recommends An Annual Engine Performance Evaluation
17 December 1998Emission 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 http://www.NAPAonline.com.