There is a new type of emissions test here in NJ. Many of our neighboring states are involved also. All model year 1996 & up vehicles are subject to this new type of test.
THE EXISTING TEST has been to place the vehicle on a dynamometer to “drive” the vehicle and record emissions under actual road load conditions. This is still a valid test for older vehicles, 1995 and down.
THE NEW TEST is called an OBDII test. All 1996 and newer vehicles are equipped with an on board engine computer or PCM (powertrain control module). The PCM performs self tests on the vehicle’s emission control & engine management systems during startup and vehicle operation. This testing can provide early warning for problems. While this self test is no guarantee against expensive repairs, it is required by federal law. When a malfunctions occurs it tells the PCM to turn on the alarm clock…
YOUR VEHICLE’S ALARM CLOCK is the MIL (malfunction indicator lamp). Also known as the “Check Engine” or “Service Engine Soon” light, when the MIL is illuminated a DTC (diagnostic trouble code) is stored in the PCM’s memory. A trained technician with an approved scan tool needs to access your PCM to check which of the many DTC’s has set as the first step in the course of a proper diagnosis.
THE STEADY MIL LIGHTIf the light comes on steady while driving you should make a service appointment to allow our technicians to scan the PCM and begin gathering data. Some problems are basic and simple. A loose gas cap can cause the MIL to come on. Other problems can be more extensive BUT the longer you wait to repair the problem the greater the chance for increased cost.
THE BLINKING MIL LIGHT means a serious problem. Engine misfire is occurring requiring immediate attention. Slow down and seek immediate service. Consider towing the vehicle.
AFTER THE PROBLEM IS SOLVED your vehicle needs to run and complete its monitors or self tests. The PCM will mark these completed after certain testing and operating conditions have been met. There are currently up to 11 readiness monitors on OBD II vehicles that can require driving the vehicle anywhere from 1 hour to 2 weeks in order for them to achieve completion status. Once monitors are complete the vehicle is ready for normal operation and if needed, NJ State Inspection.
IGNORING THE LIGHT is only asking for trouble. No vehicle manufacturer causes the light to go on without reason. If the light is lit, something is wrong. Period. As cars have gotten better (and they have) the technology to keep them that way has changed also. Yearly PCM scanning is fast becoming industry standard. Knowing what is right with your vehicle can help tell a trained technician what is wrong faster and more efficiently when there is a problem.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Keep your vehicles maintenance current.
Check your owners manual for a list of recommendations or ask us. We keep a computer database on individual vehicle “real world” maintenance.
Check your MIL light when starting the vehicle. It should briefly illuminate when starting and then go out. That tells you the bulb is good.
Your vehicles MIL is an integral part of the on board computer diagnostic system. It can help alert you to a vehicle problem early on before a little problem becomes a bigger and more expensive one. The light is tied to NJ State Inspection on vehicles today. This requires diagnosis and repair in order for a vehicle to pass inspection should the light illuminate BUT just as important, in order for the vehicle to operate properly and insure longevity. If your light is lit, get it diagnosed