Latest Reader Question: Emission Testing (April 28, 2018)

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply:

Graham asks: How do you feel about the bill going through Tennessee about removing emissions testing?

My reply: Emissions test may have been justified when most of the cars on the road were still sporting engines designed prior to the need to comply with emissions tests – and so tended to run poorly when emissions equipment was grafted onto them. People would – understandably – “defeat” and “tamper with” the Band-Aid emissions equipment, because doing so made the car run better. Also, cars from that era – roughly, from the beginning of the 20th century through the mid-1980s – weren’t computer controlled, could not self-adjust and needed frequent (by today’s standards) adjustment to remain in tune and not spew pollution.

But, almost all of those cars are off the road now. The handful still in operation are cars like my ’76 Trans-Am, a car that only goes out occasionally. Whatever its emissions are, they’re an irrelevance as far as air quality, people’s health and so on.

Testing them is pointless – which is why most states exempt cars that old.

And modern cars?

They have engines designed with emissions in mind; they are a system optimized to work together. Few people tamper with or defeat the factory emissions controls because the cars run better with everything operating as designed. Also, all cars built since the mid-1990s have onboard diagnostics and self-adjust to maintain peak performance and lowest emissions. If a problem arises, the “service engine soon” light will come on to alert the driver to the need to .. . have the car serviced soon.

Granted, some will ignore the light and continue to drive. But overall, emissions testing these cars serves no meaningful purpose (i.e., doesn’t have an effect on air quality, either way) and so I can’t see the need for them, except as a way to impose another needless expense and hassle on drivers.

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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2 COMMENTS

  1. You what else, Tennessee doesn’t tax PERSONAL PROPERTY, and they seem to get along fine without it. Of course, they also have the dubious distinction of having their State Highway Patrol openly robbing out-of-state travelers on the Federal Highways, so I guess that evens things out, right?

  2. That always struck me as blatant govt. hypocrisy; forcing govt.-approved merchandise on consumers AND then forcing continual govt. approval of the use of that same merchandise. If you stand back a bit and look at the whole thing, it’s pretty preposterous. It becomes obvious that the real goal is just the perpetual continuance of govt. invasion of private property and the destruction of personal liberty.
    I’ll give you ANOTHER example most people know nothing about. The other day I had to re-test for my State Inspector’s License, but my question is WHY?? As an “Approved Inspection Station Owner/Operator” I am constantly bombarded with updates, revisions, monthly reviews, and endless scrutiny as to the quality of my work and behavioral ethics. Other than verification of a “novice’s” ability to become approved, what is the point in the constant re-approval? It’s just more govt. “busy-ness” in order to justify the existence of the govt. itself. What ISN’T being done is education as to what is to actually be accomplished by all this “busy-ness”.
    When was the last time you license plate or your insurance policy had ANYTHING to do with the quality of service and repairs to your motor vehicle. Does any of that bureaucratic paperwork to damn thing to keep your car or truck dependable or roadworthy, NO IT DOES NOT! That bit ONLY depends on the priorities of the owner/operator, and how do people prioritize what is needed, when they are constantly bled dry by govt. services that are DEMANDED, but not necessary? The whole of DMV should be shut down tomorrow, along with every govt. mandate for PERSONAL transportation. Commercial transportation is another matter altogether, but that’s where it all really began isn’t it? The govt. had to step in and stop commercial abuses to the general public and consumers. OK, mission accomplished, go home and earn a productive living like the rest of now, but it just doesn’t work like that does it? “Doin’ right aint got NO END”, and so we now have to live with “Captain Redleggs Terril” up our ass 24/7, and Kansas Senator Jim Lane (who was an actual living person, not a fictional character) still “pissing down our backs”, and telling us it’s raining! Enjoy!

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