Check engine light and failed emissions test - NOW what? - Drive Accord Honda Forums | radio-pro.ru
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post #1 of 17 Old 11-30-2015, 04:54 PM Thread Starter
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Check engine light and failed emissions test - NOW what?

Hi everyone -

I recently noticed the amber "check engine" light popping up periodically on my dashboard. I ended up taking the vehicle to a dealership to find out what code was giving me a warning light. They informed me that the code was for the O2 sensor. I was also told that the engine light could have come on as a complete fluke or anomaly, and that I should not rush to have more work done on the car right away. Anyway, they cleared the warning light and I took the car to receive an emissions inspection from the State of Washington (which is required for residents within city limits). The car failed due to the fact clearing the code erased vital information that the emissions testing centre keeps a digital record of. I have one free retest remaining before the state requires a certain amount of maintenance to be performed. Therefore, I would like to ask the following questions:

1. How long do I have to wait/how much driving do I need to do in order for the car to start encoding carbon emissions information again?

2. What might be causing the check engine light to be illuminated certain days that I drive, but be absent on others?

Thanks


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post #2 of 17 Old 11-30-2015, 05:22 PM
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The car failed because the condition that triggered it still exists. Don't go back to test thinking you can time it right. Resetting may turn off the light but the code still be pending till it turns on again. The O2 sensor might be working at a reduced state, hence the intermittence. The fix is to change the sensor.

BTW, you haven't provided the code. Usually it's the downstream sensor that fails. It screws into the CAT and plugs in under the passenger seat. Seat removal is not necessary. Once replaced, the light should turn off itself as you drive and stay off (it did for me)... or you can clear the code.

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post #3 of 17 Old 11-30-2015, 06:30 PM
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The reason it failed the test is the readiness tests on the ECM have not completed. Once the ECM has been cleared it is back to factory settings and has to wait for all readiness test of the subsystems to complete. That is done by what is known as a "drive cycle", a drive cycle is fancy name for what you normally do when you drive the car. It generally takes 2 days and multiple trips at varying speeds and multiple engine starts and overnight wait times for all tests to complete. Once all the readiness tests complete and there are no error codes present your car will pass. If during the readiness test a component fails the code is set and data is recorded and the check engine light is on. If you have an OBD II scanner you can check the readiness tests yourself.

Codes can be intermittent, but once a code is set the data is in the ECM as a pending code. And there will be freeze frame data associated with the error giving a snapshot of what the car was doing at the time of the code.

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post #4 of 17 Old 11-30-2015, 09:19 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the responses so far. It's looking like I don't have much choice but to drop some money into this car. In the State of Washington, you pay $15 for an emissions test, but you receive a free retake if you fail. Having said that, you MUST do certain repairs to your car if you fail the second time in order to receive a waiver. I really do not want to be stuck with a mandatory repair bill.

I guess I should attempt the drive cycle and see if it works for my situation.

Just to be clear: even if the light has gone off.. it still is not going to pass due to a freeze on the data?

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post #5 of 17 Old 11-30-2015, 09:20 PM
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I found this in the Owner's Manual for my 2003. Perhaps you'll want to run through these steps after you resolve the issue triggering your CEL? It looks like a few days of regular driving is preferable, though.



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post #6 of 17 Old 11-30-2015, 09:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fazio767 View Post
I guess I should attempt the drive cycle and see if it works for my situation.
You definitely should, many of the OBD-II code readers have the ability to show "Ready" status for each of the several sub-systems within the emission control system, so you can know ahead of time if there is any code(s) and if the emission system is ready for testing.

I am surprised the shop you initially brought the car to didn't tell you this.

As well, many of the PepBoys, AutoZone type stores can check the ready status for you with their in-store code readers.

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post #7 of 17 Old 11-30-2015, 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by fazio767 View Post
I guess I should attempt the drive cycle and see if it works for my situation.
An O2 sensor is what, fifty bucks these days? Even if you manage to pass without changing it, not changing will degrade your cat and that will cost you plenty.

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post #8 of 17 Old 12-01-2015, 03:43 AM
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The OP has a V-6 so changing all 4 O2 sensors is a bit of money. If the code was a heater code, that is a hard fault and will reappear. What he needs is the exact error, my guess is an infamous P0420/P0430 code which is not an O2 sensor code but most believe it is. Once his readiness test complete you drive straight to the testing facility. If this is a hard fault the code will reappear immediately as that readiness test will fail, such as a O2 sensor heater failure such as a P0135. Then you replace the bad O2 sensor and that code will clear.

I agree, after 100k good preventative maintenance would be to replace all O2 sensors. They live a hard life in the exhaust stream and especially if you are burning oil or coolant will destroy them quickly.

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post #9 of 17 Old 12-01-2015, 12:29 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greg1c View Post
The OP has a V-6 so changing all 4 O2 sensors is a bit of money. If the code was a heater code, that is a hard fault and will reappear. What he needs is the exact error, my guess is an infamous P0420/P0430 code which is not an O2 sensor code but most believe it is. Once his readiness test complete you drive straight to the testing facility. If this is a hard fault the code will reappear immediately as that readiness test will fail, such as a O2 sensor heater failure such as a P0135. Then you replace the bad O2 sensor and that code will clear.

I agree, after 100k good preventative maintenance would be to replace all O2 sensors. They live a hard life in the exhaust stream and especially if you are burning oil or coolant will destroy them quickly.
It's all starting to make sense. You've probably seen my others posts; I have the accord that burns through a quart of oil every few weeks. I'm sure it's having some sort of adverse effect.

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post #10 of 17 Old 12-01-2015, 01:26 PM
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We had to replace the 02 sensor on the 03 Ex and my mechanic said he couldn't do it and it had to be OEM. Odd. SO we went to the dealer and it was done for $360 for part and install.

However, with the resetting of the whatever unit in order to get retested. Its takes varying mileage and usually more than two days. I drove over 100 miles of what I thought was varied miles over 4 days in my Corolla and it still hadn't reset so I would say definitely drive for more than two days
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post #11 of 17 Old 12-01-2015, 04:20 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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We had to replace the 02 sensor on the 03 Ex and my mechanic said he couldn't do it and it had to be OEM. Odd. SO we went to the dealer and it was done for $360 for part and install.

However, with the resetting of the whatever unit in order to get retested. Its takes varying mileage and usually more than two days. I drove over 100 miles of what I thought was varied miles over 4 days in my Corolla and it still hadn't reset so I would say definitely drive for more than two days
$360 dollars?? Add that to the current repair bill for my Accord and you get a sum that has a higher value than the car is worth.

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post #12 of 17 Old 12-01-2015, 04:51 PM
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$360 dollars?? Add that to the current repair bill for my Accord and you get a sum that has a higher value than the car is worth.
This was at least 5 years -6 years ago. So maybe the 02 sensors have gone down in prices. More importantly I think our mechanic just couldn't get the part at the time. If you can get the part and have your own mechanic do it you won't have to pay the dealer.
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post #13 of 17 Old 12-01-2015, 06:30 PM
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Here is an easy way to tell if readiness test are completed.

To check if the readiness codes are set to complete, turn the ignition switch ON (II), but do not start the engine. The MIL will come on for 15-20 seconds. If it then goes off, the readiness codes are complete. If it flashes five times, one or more readiness codes are not set to complete.
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post #14 of 17 Old 12-01-2015, 07:10 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greg1c View Post
Here is an easy way to tell if readiness test are completed.

To check if the readiness codes are set to complete, turn the ignition switch ON (II), but do not start the engine. The MIL will come on for 15-20 seconds. If it then goes off, the readiness codes are complete. If it flashes five times, one or more readiness codes are not set to complete.
Okay, I will try that. Thank you very much!

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post #15 of 17 Old 12-02-2015, 08:17 AM
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You need to get the actual code read off of your car! Everyone is just guessing without that info. If your car is really burning through a quart of oil every few weeks my money is on code P0420/P0430 (Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold, Bank1/2) due to your cat(s) being partially clogged with soot from the burning oil.


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