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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-16-2017, 08:15 PM Thread Starter
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Help! Failed Smog -- Scan of Vehicle Inspection Report included

Hi everyone. This is my first post here on Team-Integra and I'm happy to get to know the community.

I've got an 89 Integra LS that just failed smog, so I'm feeling some pressure to get my car fixed because it's getting to be at risk of being impounded for expired tags.

Some things we should know:

The car is all stock.
248,223 original miles, nothing's been replaced (as far as I'm aware -- everything looks old and stock).
These models do not come with EGR valves.

So here's my Inspection Report:
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Robert C. Wilson III is offline  
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-16-2017, 09:41 PM
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Try the below threads. These all have to do with high NOx levels, which is what you're failing according to your attached emissions results.

Further more, to help you better understand what it is they're measuring:

HC-Hydrocarbons are raw gasoline. If your vehicle has a high reading for hydrocarbons raw gas is getting through the engine unburnt. This could be due to a misfire including a lean misfire or an extremely rich mixture. Anything that lets gas go through without getting burnt will cause high HC readings. (Also note that due to the way the station sucks the sample from near the exhaust pipe and not in the pipe, I have seen leaking filler necks fail for HCís) A good running engine with a properly functioning catalytic converter should emit less than 50 ppm of HC from the tailpipe.

CO-Carbon monoxide is partially burnt fuel. CO is formed when hydrocarbons are not completely combined with oxygen during the combustion process. High Co readings are always a rich indicator never a lean indicator. If you fail for CO youíre running to rich. Readings of below 1.2% after cat are normal.

NOx-Oxides of Nitrogen form when the combustion chamber temp exceeds approx 2500 degrees F. High NOx readings rarely accompany a rich mixture, NOx should be considered as an indicator of high combustion chamber temps, that commonly accompany high engine loads. Insufficient EGR flow and over advanced ignition timing are two common causes of high Nox emissions.

O2-Oxygen is always present in the exhaust stream. How much depends on many factors including catalyst efficiency or air injection systems. High concentration can be an indication of misfire, lean mixture or exhaust leaks. After cat readings without air injection are normally under 1%.

CO2-Carbon Dioxide is a measure of combustion and catalyst efficiency. CO2 exhaust concentrations increase with increased combustion and catalyst efficiency. A good running engine with a properly functioning catalytic converter produces CO2 concentrations of 15% or more.

So what does this all mean? Letís look at some examples.
HC: 850 ppm
CO: .01%
CO2: 13.65%
O2: 2.37%
These readings will fail for HC in any state. The high HC indicates we have raw fuel coming out the tailpipe but the low CO reading indicates we are not running rich. Moving on to the CO2, our readings are somewhat low (remember 15% or more) so efficiency is down. The O2 reading is high meaning we also have oxygen getting through the engine unburnt. Combining fuel and oxygen both coming out unburnt and most likely you have a cylinder that has misfired. Going one step further, we can use a Lambda calculation (note 1) to determine the A/F ratio of the engine at 1.07 Lambda or about 15.6:1. A little on the lean side but not enough to cause a lean misfire so the most likely cause would be a secondary ignition failure.

HC: 330 ppm
CO: 8.49%
CO2: 9.93%
O2: .15%
In this example the vehicle failed for HC and CO. HC and CO readings tell us that it is running extremely rich. Lambda calculation at .77(11.2 A/F) The high CO was formed as there was not enough oxygen to completely burn the mixture and when we ran out of oxygen the rest came out as pure hydrocarbons. CO2 (efficiency) is low as a result as is the O2 reading. These reading are from a vehicle with a bad coolant temp sensor that was reading low temperatures, enabling warm up enrichment.

HC: 72 ppm
CO: .16%
CO2: 15.24%
O2: .86%
This example is from a passing vehicle, so everything is good right? Well, if we do a Lambda calculation we find that in reality we are running at 1.03 (15.2:1 A/F) slightly lean. I can also see that elevated HC and CO readings combined with some O2 left in the sample indicates that the catalytic converter is not using all available oxygen to burn the remaining HC and CO up. A good converter is 98% efficient at removing HC and CO so if you see any oxygen left it could have been used to burn the remaining HC and CO. While these readings are within acceptable limits, over time the elevated heat from the lean condition will degrade the catalyst to a point of not working.
If properly repaired (If the ECM calculations are off at part throttle emission they are also off under WOT conditions when we want the maximum power we can get.) first you would need to find the problem with the lean condition. MAF dirty, small vacuum leak, or maybe a degraded O2 sensor. Then replace the catalytic converter. I would then expect to see readings more like this
HC: 20 ppm or less
Co: .02% or less
CO2: 15.3% or more
O2: .02% or less
While this might seem nit picking, in the racing world, while your car maybe running good your competitor might have his running perfect. All professional race teams pay attention to every detail like this.

In relation to our performance cars, the emission test only simulates daily driving conditions. During the test they will not get into boost on a turbocharged car or enter P.E. mode on your N.A. car. This should allow us to pass the emission test and still have all the power we require at WOT.

FAILED Smog Test Emissions, High HC and NOx at 15mph

High NOx reading in smog test in Calif

Running lean? High NOx

ailed smog test: high NOx, PASSED!

G1: Emission, SMOG
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-17-2017, 06:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert C. Wilson III View Post
Well I'm going to take a look at the car (I don't want to get rid of it) and see if I can't get these numbers down for a reasonable amount of money.

Since my HC is relatively high at 15mph, I don't necessarily think it's running lean. It also doesn't have an EGR and it has high miles and was probably abused before I got it, which means it probably has carbon buildup in both the cylinders and valves. So, perhaps the first thing I'm going to do use some water or some seafoam in the intake a few times to try and knock out some 25 years of carbon. Maybe I'll siphen my tank and add some fuel cleaner additives like concentrated techron or something similar.

Then, I might take the fuel injectors off and soak them in some seafoam to get them clean, and replace the fuel filter.

As long as my fuel pump is working correctly, at that point I think that if running lean was the issue, then I would have corrected it.

_________

If that doesn't reduce my numbers the next thing I'd do is check the MAF, O2 sensor, and then make sure that the timing is correct. Finally, I should check to make sure I don't have a blown head gasket (car was overheating when i got it, I had it tested for a blown head gasket and found that the radiator was leaking terribly and the test couldn't be completed, so after installing a new radiator the car no longer overheated and worked great, so I never went back to make sure the headgasket was okay, now since I have high NOx perhaps I should make sure it really is okay (I'm not sure if a blown head gasket would cause high combustion temps, and it shows no signs of a blown headgasket, but since the car was overheating before, I'd be willing to get it tested).

_____

I was told the car probably needed an oil change (I got it just recently, but love it), so that will be something I should do as well. Perhaps twice, once quickly, then once again after driving around a while. I'll go full synthetic (with detergents and other good stuff to help clean up carbon build-up wherever it might be) with a heavy duty filter both times.

Then I guess it would be time to make sure it isn't misfiring, and if it is, then I'm really glad it failed smog so I could learn about it and fix it, because that's a big issue. If the car needs it, at this point I'll do plugs and wires and make sure the distributor is working right (the pulley is so old and pitted that the timing mark is almost completely worn off; the smog tech almost sent me home because he couldn't find it -- eventually he "found it" (not sure, but he marked it with red chalk).

______

Perhaps at this point I'll go in for a retest, and I'll make sure I have quality gasoline in the tank instead of gas of questionable origins. Does octane effect smog numbers? And, since this car has v-tech, should i be using higher octane anyway? I'm not sure what the consensus is for honda's, but ya know, if it does have carbon build up and if this is bumping the compression, then higher octane actually would probably help the car run better. Would this maybe help reduce NOx levels if carbon build up was the problem?

If I fail again I'll take a look at the numbers and see what changed. If I know the motor is tuned up and running the way it should be, then I'll have no choice but to replace the Cat and 02 sensor at this point (maybe I'll try cleaning it with soap and water first). That's about all I can do to get it to pass.

The only other things I can think of would be a fresh air filter and a dyno tune to get the motor running as well as it can, and perhaps I'd replace the air filter if it's dirty just because it's cheap, I don't think I can afford a dyno tune, so that probably won't happen.


________

I'll post updates as they occur. The goal is to get the car to pass as I'm not ready to get rid of the car right now (it's so fun to drive! and gets great MPG's). As far as I can tell it really does run great, so it might just be a bad/old cat, however, I'd rather get the motor running as well as possible before replacing the cat. It's just how I'd want to do things. If there is an ignition or fuel problem then I want to fix it rather than band-aid it with a new cat, so anyway.
1. You don't have a MAF sensor

2. You don't have VTEC.

3. You wouldn't be able to do a dyno-tune unless you have a chippable ECU, and some sort of tuning solution. Even if you did, tuning out an emissions issue would be a band-aid for another underlying problem from the vehicle.

4. I would start with a decent tune-up. Cap, rotor, plugs (properly gapped), wires (OEM). I would also replace the O2 sensor as well.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-17-2017, 06:31 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjkz24 View Post
1. You don't have a MAF sensor

2. You don't have VTEC.

3. You wouldn't be able to do a dyno-tune unless you have a chippable ECU, and some sort of tuning solution. Even if you did, tuning out an emissions issue would be a band-aid for another underlying problem from the vehicle.

4. I would start with a decent tune-up. Cap, rotor, plugs (properly gapped), wires (OEM). I would also replace the O2 sensor as well.
Oh, ;D good to know. Someone threw a vtec sticker on it (looks very oem/convincing) then (that's what lead me to believe it had vtec)... lol.

Last edited by Robert C. Wilson III; 03-18-2017 at 09:26 PM.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-31-2017, 03:38 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjkz24 View Post
Try the below threads. These all have to do with high NOx levels, which is what you're failing according to your attached emissions results.

Further more, to help you better understand what it is they're measuring:

HC-Hydrocarbons are raw gasoline. If your vehicle has a high reading for hydrocarbons raw gas is getting through the engine unburnt. This could be due to a misfire including a lean misfire or an extremely rich mixture. Anything that lets gas go through without getting burnt will cause high HC readings. (Also note that due to the way the station sucks the sample from near the exhaust pipe and not in the pipe, I have seen leaking filler necks fail for HC’s) A good running engine with a properly functioning catalytic converter should emit less than 50 ppm of HC from the tailpipe.

CO-Carbon monoxide is partially burnt fuel. CO is formed when hydrocarbons are not completely combined with oxygen during the combustion process. High Co readings are always a rich indicator never a lean indicator. If you fail for CO you’re running to rich. Readings of below 1.2% after cat are normal.

NOx-Oxides of Nitrogen form when the combustion chamber temp exceeds approx 2500 degrees F. High NOx readings rarely accompany a rich mixture, NOx should be considered as an indicator of high combustion chamber temps, that commonly accompany high engine loads. Insufficient EGR flow and over advanced ignition timing are two common causes of high Nox emissions.

O2-Oxygen is always present in the exhaust stream. How much depends on many factors including catalyst efficiency or air injection systems. High concentration can be an indication of misfire, lean mixture or exhaust leaks. After cat readings without air injection are normally under 1%.

CO2-Carbon Dioxide is a measure of combustion and catalyst efficiency. CO2 exhaust concentrations increase with increased combustion and catalyst efficiency. A good running engine with a properly functioning catalytic converter produces CO2 concentrations of 15% or more.

So what does this all mean? Let’s look at some examples.
HC: 850 ppm
CO: .01%
CO2: 13.65%
O2: 2.37%
These readings will fail for HC in any state. The high HC indicates we have raw fuel coming out the tailpipe but the low CO reading indicates we are not running rich. Moving on to the CO2, our readings are somewhat low (remember 15% or more) so efficiency is down. The O2 reading is high meaning we also have oxygen getting through the engine unburnt. Combining fuel and oxygen both coming out unburnt and most likely you have a cylinder that has misfired. Going one step further, we can use a Lambda calculation (note 1) to determine the A/F ratio of the engine at 1.07 Lambda or about 15.6:1. A little on the lean side but not enough to cause a lean misfire so the most likely cause would be a secondary ignition failure.

HC: 330 ppm
CO: 8.49%
CO2: 9.93%
O2: .15%
In this example the vehicle failed for HC and CO. HC and CO readings tell us that it is running extremely rich. Lambda calculation at .77(11.2 A/F) The high CO was formed as there was not enough oxygen to completely burn the mixture and when we ran out of oxygen the rest came out as pure hydrocarbons. CO2 (efficiency) is low as a result as is the O2 reading. These reading are from a vehicle with a bad coolant temp sensor that was reading low temperatures, enabling warm up enrichment.

HC: 72 ppm
CO: .16%
CO2: 15.24%
O2: .86%
This example is from a passing vehicle, so everything is good right? Well, if we do a Lambda calculation we find that in reality we are running at 1.03 (15.2:1 A/F) slightly lean. I can also see that elevated HC and CO readings combined with some O2 left in the sample indicates that the catalytic converter is not using all available oxygen to burn the remaining HC and CO up. A good converter is 98% efficient at removing HC and CO so if you see any oxygen left it could have been used to burn the remaining HC and CO. While these readings are within acceptable limits, over time the elevated heat from the lean condition will degrade the catalyst to a point of not working.
If properly repaired (If the ECM calculations are off at part throttle emission they are also off under WOT conditions when we want the maximum power we can get.) first you would need to find the problem with the lean condition. MAF dirty, small vacuum leak, or maybe a degraded O2 sensor. Then replace the catalytic converter. I would then expect to see readings more like this
HC: 20 ppm or less
Co: .02% or less
CO2: 15.3% or more
O2: .02% or less
While this might seem nit picking, in the racing world, while your car maybe running good your competitor might have his running perfect. All professional race teams pay attention to every detail like this.

In relation to our performance cars, the emission test only simulates daily driving conditions. During the test they will not get into boost on a turbocharged car or enter P.E. mode on your N.A. car. This should allow us to pass the emission test and still have all the power we require at WOT.

FAILED Smog Test Emissions, High HC and NOx at 15mph

High NOx reading in smog test in Calif

Running lean? High NOx

ailed smog test: high NOx, PASSED!

G1: Emission, SMOG
Based on what jjkz24 wrote, my numbers, and some imput from a shop, I believe my car fits into the third condition listed in the quoted post.

The car is probably running slightly lean, and the car had both a small vacuum leak and a bad pre-cat 02 sensor (well, at least that's what a shop told me, I don't have the voltmeter to check it right now, but maybe I should check it myself to be sure they're telling the truth). After fixing the vacuum leak, and running 1 can of BG44k through 1 tank of gas (filled up empty tank with shell 89 instead of no-name 87 as well), and using a free-retest, my numbers improved to:

New numbers:

NO dropped by 166 points at 15 miles an hour from 1166 to 1000.
NO dropped by 120 points at 25 miles an hour from 995 to 875.

CO dropped from 0.16 to 0.11 at 15 miles an hour.
CO dropped from 0.10 to 0.9 at 25 miles an hour.

HC dropped from 97 to 91 at 15 miles an hour.
HC dropped from 54 to 53 at 25 miles an hour.

%02 measured 1.0 both times at 15 miles an hour.
%02 measured changed from 0.7 to 0.9 at 25 miles an hour.

%C02 measured changed from 14 to 14.7 at 15 miles an hour.
%C02 measured changed from 14.1 to 14.5 at 25 miles an hour.

My ignition system appears to be just fine all the way down. Though, one odd thing I noticed, previously my timing was recorded "12 BTCD" on the first test, this test it was recorded "PB10." Does this mean the timing has been changed? If anyone knows please let me know.

Today I am going to replace the 02 sensor. Ultimately, based on what jjkz24 wrote, and based on my numbers for both tests, I think I will inevitably be purchasing a new cat.

I'm not sure I know where to look for the "lambda calculation (sticky 1)" but I'd like to learn it so that I can see if my car is running "slightly lean (it would appear so)." I could check it after retesting with a new pre-cat 02 sensor and compare the three results as 1. baseline, 2. after vacuum leak fix, 3. after vacuum leak fix and new pre-cat 02 sensor. But I do want to make sure that my timing has not be changed. I payed a shop to do a diagnostic for me, but I did not want them to change anything.

Last edited by Robert C. Wilson III; 03-31-2017 at 05:39 PM.
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