I found out something interesting over the past few days.
In California periodically you will have to have your car tested for a “Smog Check” in order to renew your tag. Well it was time for my Honda to have it’s first smog check. The check engine light had been coming on and off every now and then…this can happen sometimes if you don’t tighten your gas cap tight enough. Since it had gone back off, that is what I thought might have caused it. Well just before my smog check it had come back on! Of course! What I didn’t realize is that “if” your check engine light is on, then you will for sure fail your smog check. I had taken my car to a nearby “Test Only” smog check station on Tamarack in Carlsbad…they do not do any repairs, but run the tests only. The technician/owner knew in advance that my check engine light was on but he did not inform me this was a sure fire fail on the smog check test. Instead he ran the test and then told me what parts passed and what parts didn’t pass. I had to pay for the entire smog check. I then had to go somewhere else to get the repairs done. Spark plugs were the probable culprit according to the smog tester. But, not to worry, once we got them fixed then the smog tester said a retest would be free.
Off to Pepboys we went to get new spark plugs and it did take care of the problem. At Pepboys they asked if our check engine light had been on prior to testing and we said yes. They said any reputable dealer wouldn’t have even run the first smog test as it was a sure fail. Annoying to think about, but since our retest was to be free then it really wasn’t that big of a deal.
Today I went to get the retest. Guess what, retests aren’t free. Yep, even though the guy told us verbally on Saturday that when we brought it back in that the test would be free, it wasn’t. In small print on the original work order it said, “No free retests.” Now I was annoyed! I called them on it and told them what our repairman said about reputable dealers would never even have smog tested with the check engine light on in the first place. They gave me some rigamaroe about how they are a “test only” station and make no money on repairs so they could not afford to do a free retest, but they could give me 20% off of another test! Aaggghhh!
Basically I just want everyone to know to not even try to get a smog test done if your check engine light is on. Get what ever it is fixed first and then have your smog check done. That way you will only be paying for it once! Also, “Test Only” stations I found out tend to be a higher charge than a regular station for smog checks, another way they make money.