Volkswagen's Emissions Cheating Just Made It Tougher for Everyone

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
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volkswagen s emissions cheating just made it tougher for everyone
There’s a chance drivers may be in for an even tougher smog test next time around, all thanks to Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal. Like the kid who made a ruckus in school and caused the whole class to be sent to detention, VW’s “defeat device” shenanigans may cause drivers of all vehicle brands to be studied under a more glaring microscope at test time, Bloomberg reports.“The Volkswagen scandal underscores some huge flaws in the emissions test systems we have in the real world,” said Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, an environmental nonprofit. Though the Environmental Protection Agency certifies each model before it goes on sale in the U.S., responsibility shifts to the state level to make sure vehicles currently on the road pass muster. Currently, 32 states require emissions testing. The VW scandal is prompting critics to call for sweeping changes to local emissions test systems, arguing that many local tests simply involve a check of a car’s software to see if the pollution control systems are in working order. This is precisely the situation VW’s cheater software ( designed by Audi in 1999) was designed to game. Even if the system appears to be functioning, that’s no guarantee that pollutants aren’t streaming out of the tailpipe.Naturally, this could make emissions tests tougher for all drivers, whether you own a Volkswagen or not. Like the kid in school who set the picnic table on fire during a field trip, it only takes one bad apple to ruin it for everyone.
Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Apr 22, 2016

    When I owned my 1995 Altima, the tester had to use the tailpipe sniffer, because the electronics weren't advanced enough. It took no more time to test than the computer check, and had to be more accurate, since it was testing actual tailpipe emissions. It was a bit more of a bother for the tester, and they charged a little more, naturally, but no big deal. There won't be anything longer or more thorough to bedevil owners, since states that test won't hear the end of it, and no rational test is more thorough than testing emissions out of the tailpipe.

    • See 1 previous
    • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Apr 22, 2016

      @Scoutdude So what's 240 seconds? 4 minutes. It takes a bit longer for the tech to set up, but the owner is in the waiting room for 15-20 minutes, like I was the last time I smogged the Altima in Cali, and others waited just as long. The difference was that I was charged more for '95 and older cars without OBDII. The biggest delay is smaller test-only stations with slow connections to the state computer system that registers the results for print out, and any car over 10 years old in Cali has to go to a test-only. It's a bother for the tech and they charge extra for it, but the time element is minimal to non-existent. The bottom line for me is that it's an emissions test, and they should be checking what's coming out of the tailpipe on ALL cars.

  • Burgersandbeer Burgersandbeer on Apr 22, 2016

    A sniffer test might make smog easier. Maybe I would be unpleasantly surprised by what comes out of my aging car's tailpipe, but I'll take my chances with a sniffer rather than failing with OBDII monitors not ready (but nothing wrong with the car), then trying to complete drive cycles.

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