When a car's emissions start to exceed the established standards (i.e. pollute the air), the check engine light comes on. All vehicles made in the mid-1990s and later have a complex computer system that monitors your car's emissions system. It's called the On-Board Diagnostics - Generation II (OBD II) System. In addition to storing data related to your cars emissions (both tailpipe and fuel system emissions), it also monitors performance data like vehicle speed and engine temperature. When you bring your car in for servicing, the automotive technician checks the codes and the monitor data (i.e. what was happening when the check engine light came on) to track down the problem and recommend repairs.
On vehicles built before the mid-1990s, we use a four gas emissions analyzer and other test equipment to check out the emission system.
One of the bigger fears people have if their check engine light is on is that it's a problem with the catalytic converter, part of the car's exhaust system. The catalytic converter is the mechanism that cleans the exhaust gases of any unburned hydrocarbons (gasoline that may leave the engine unburned) by burning them off. Importantly, there are many other things that can cause the check engine light to come on besides a faulty catalytic converter. Something as simple as not screwing the gas cap on tightly enough can cause the check engine light to come on.
In addition to the catalytic converter mentioned above, the exhaust system includes everything from the exhaust manifold that is bolted to the engine to the muffler and tail pipe located at the rear of the car.
Exhaust system repairs are rare now because of improved manufacturing methods and better quality materials. In fact, the federal government mandates warranty coverage on catalytic converters for at least eight years/80,000 miles, and we should expect the exhaust system (e.g. exhaust manifold, muffler, catalytic converter and exhaust pipe) to last up to 100,000 miles or more.
On the other hand, oxygen sensors (another component of the exhaust system that helps to optimize the air to fuel ratio to ensure proper fuel burning) do require maintenance, typically in the 75,000 to 125,000 mile range.
In general, when repairing any part of the system that is behind the catalytic converter, we use original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts because they fit the car better and last longer. On older vehicles we use quality aftermarket parts which make the exhaust repair more economical.
Important Note: If your check engine light is on, you should not take your car for an emissions inspection because it will fail. Be sure to have the problem corrected, and then drive your car normally for about a week to allow time for the systems to reset.
WE SERVICE THE FOLLOWING ASIAN, EUROPEAN & AMERICAN CARS:
Acura • Audi • BMW • Buick • Cadillac • Chevrolet • Chrysler • Dodge • Fiat • Ford • Geo • GMC • Honda • Hummer • Hybrids •Hyundai• Infiniti • Isuzu • Jaguar • Jeep / Eagle • Kia • Land Rover • Lexus • Mazda • Mercedes • Mercury • Mini • Mitsubishi • Nissan • Plymouth • Pontiac • Saab • Saturn • Scion • Smart • Subaru • Suzuki • Tesla • Toyota • Volkswagen • Volvo