Earning Nighttime Shame Miles

How much do you know about car exhaust? I mean you probably have the high level notions of “its not good” and “it comes out of the car.” 

This was about my level of knowledge up until this week. Oh but dear congregation, you have no goddamn idea. 

Simple enough task. The plates on my wife’s car is up for renewal. And my state, like many, require an emissions test in order to renew. I had lived out west for many years, so I was used to the emissions test. Ran 3 different cars over 10 years through the annual emissions test. Never had a problem. You go to the gas station, they hook your car up. You run it a little bit. Boom, certified. 

My wife has a Prius, so its even simpler. 

So, I go to get the emissions test about two weeks ago. Passes no problem. The next week, I go to try to pay the tag fee. No test on record. After a week and half of back and forth, I finally figure out that they were a digit off on her VIN number so it never registered in the computer. No big deal. I would go back and get it fixed. 

Meant to do that last weekend. The battery in her car died. Not the Hybrid battery. The regular battery. Had to get it towed. Got the battery replaced. Again, no big deal…..or so I thought. 

I go back to my inspection place. Their policy doesn’t let them just resubmit a completed test. BUT they would do another one free of charge. Great. No problem. 

The test is in progress. The clerk types at the computer. Looks at the Prius confused. Types some more, then asks me that fateful question:

“Did you just change the battery in this car?”

I said, “Yes. How did you know that”

“Yeah…you are going to fail this emissions test”

Since the 1970s there has been emission prevention and detection equipment in cars. But it didn’t get really sophisticated till around 1996, when it became mandatory to put an onboard computer to track certain emissions tests.  The technology has improved a bit since then, but the principle still remains the same. The car does all the emissions tracking work. And thats just downloaded and sent to your local state. 

…unless the battery dies. If the battery dies, all that data is automatically deleted and you start from 0. 

My wife’s car failed what they call the “readiness test.” Which is their cute term for the 4 key sensors that track data. 

The car in front of my wife’s car in line was a jacked up Jeep. It passed the emissions test. 

I went on a frantic youtube search. Found a ton of videos like this:

There seems to be a hidden online culture around “drive cycles,” which is the term they use for the way you have to drive your car to get the sensors to trip. 

Oh, its not just you have to drive it X miles. The sensors only record data on specific conditions. There are whole write ups on different techniques by car brand.

I actually ended up calling the dealership. Luckily, they put me in contact with a guy who CLEARLY doesn’t like the emissions detection equipment. Was not his first rodeo with this EXACT situation. His big advice was simple. 1) Mix highway and city travel 2) You will need at least 2 full nights. He didn’t say you need all the special slowdown techniques that seem rather dangerous. Just that I needed to put some miles on there. And it had to sit and come back to equal outside temperature, and then started up again the next night. 

As I was running out of time, I had no choice but to get it done over the past two nights. Night driving. Logging shame miles, throwing more pollutants in the atmosphere so the computer knows that I am driving a FUCKING Prius.

Night 1

I put my son to bed, went down stairs and set the car to idle.  

Thats part of it. The car has to just fucking idle for 10 min. 

So there I am. In the dark of night. Sitting in the car in my drive way while it just idles away. 

Then, off into the night. I decided to pick the interstate near me that would get the most rural, the fastest. This way I wouldn’t hit traffic, and I could just drive. 

You know, rural is right. I kind of forget when you live in the south, it can get rural strong real fast. 4 Exits up I hit a Cabela’s and a Bass Pro Shops on the same exit. 

Did you know there is now a “Trump got robbed” flag? I didn’t. There is. Must be by the same production company that does his other stuff, or the knock-offs have just gotten better. 

Also, people love speeding in the night. Part of tripping the sensor is not going over 75, so I am locked in at around 65-70 (can’t use cruise control either). 

Lot of street racers in the night these days. Loud ass mufflers and shit. I had someone pass me that had a muffler coming up out of the car ending near the top of the trunk. I wonder if THAT car passed the emissions test. 

Night 2

PISSING down rain. But again, due to timing. No choice. 

I get on the interstate. I make it half way to my required journey. Big ass accident. 2-3 car pile up. From the drive cycle sites, it sounds like the path can’t be broken. I have to maintain interstate speed for a certain number of miles. 

No problem son. I had my Jerry Reed going. So, I just drove deep into the night. Got close to the next state, but that isn’t saying much. 

I think people drive like insane fucks in the rain. Or they get paranoid. Its a bad combination. 

But, I made it through just fine.

Well, did it work?

I am FUCKING GRATEFUL it did. And it can work for you too. Here’s my strat, and its simpler than the others ive seen

  • 30 mins on city streets (45mph)
  • 30 min on highway (have to have at least 20 min consecutive at 65mph/75mph)
  • Idle for 10 min before you start
  • Don’t touch the car again for a full day
  • Do this cycle twice. One one day. One another.

And it fucking worked. And it only cost the environment around 150 more miles. 

There has GOT to be a better way to handle this, without this kind of bullshit. Like maybe on a mechanic check up they do an emissions test then. Turn it in every checkup. Like when you change your oil or something. 

Regardless, my days on the highway are over for now. You lucky devil! You got the one Snowman, I’m eastbound and down. 

© Church of the Holy Flava 2016 - 2021