OT: I think it's time to let go of my audi...sniff....

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Submitted by flu on January 30, 2016 - 3:37pm

I've had my audi for 16 years, and it was my first new car that I bought with cash. And I've been pretty happy with it...

But I think it's about time to part with it.

I just failed smog, with the latest OBDII tests. I failed the visual inspection, because at startup, apparently there's a lot of white smoke that only disappears after the car warms up...It was enough smoke to fail visual. I've been told this could be anything from a leaking head gasket, to other bigger item things. And if there really is a coolant leak and it's blowing into my exhaust, my catalytic c is probably toast by now. Book value of the car is around $1500, diagnosing and repairing is well above that I'm afraid. So, I guess it's the end of the road for this car.. Sigh.....

Submitted by Hatfield on January 30, 2016 - 3:55pm.

Maybe your Audi should go out in a blaze of glory. https://www.24hoursoflemons.com

Submitted by spdrun on January 31, 2016 - 12:41pm.

Did you pass the OBD II tests? If you did, then your cat is fine. There's a rear O2 sensor that checks cat performance and would throw a code (and CEL) if the cat is bad.

Submitted by Hobie on January 30, 2016 - 3:57pm.

Shouldn't the car be warmed up enough and kept running before the smog test? With a head gasket failure it would probably fail the emissions but visual??

Barr's head gasket sealer will work provided it is not a huge leak.

Obviously, you are on borrowed time but maybe a different tech could help.

Submitted by Hobie on January 30, 2016 - 4:02pm.

Just how much coolent have you lost? Btw, the copper colored sealer seems to be better

Submitted by flu on January 30, 2016 - 6:53pm.

Hobie wrote:
Shouldn't the car be warmed up enough and kept running before the smog test? With a head gasket failure it would probably fail the emissions but visual??

Barr's head gasket sealer will work provided it is not a huge leak.

Obviously, you are on borrowed time but maybe a different tech could help.

You know that's what I thought. The tech didn't do that, and it smoked. Plus the car hadn't been driving in a month... I drove it for 1 hour just now and when I start up, it doesn't smoke anymore.

So I'm wondering if there was a tiny oil leak in the head gasket that burned off once it's driven daily.

The jerk smog check station in miramar charged me $40 and isn't offering me a free retest. I think I'm going to take it to poway smog in march.

The way they do smog tests these days is they do an OBD scan and then they step on the gas pedal a few times to confirm if they see any smoke from the tailpipe. It's pretty stupid and I should have known....

I do have a coolant leak, but that'a different issue. I have a tiny hole seaping out of the radiator when I it something, but it is literally a drop every two days or so.

Some have also told me to try to run a thicker oil. My current oil is 0w40 as it was recommended to me. I'll switch to a 5w40. I'm due for an oil change anyway.

Submitted by spdrun on January 30, 2016 - 8:26pm.

Run 20w50. Won't hurt anything for short duration, and it's much more viscous at cold temps (the 20w part) as well as being thicker when hot (the 50 part).

Submitted by bearishgurl on January 30, 2016 - 8:31pm.

I've been down this road with a few vehicles. Make sure your smog check station is a Test Only station, NOT a Test and Repair Station! As you know, "Test Only" stations have no incentive to attempt to get "make-work" from older vehicles brought to them because they think they have you over a barrel (esp if it is your only vehicle). Take it to the regular mechanic you use who has a fav "Test Only" station they send their client's vehicles to and pay them cash so they can take it there for you and pay cash for your retest. After your oil change (to thicker oil), fill the gas tank and add this to it:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000CIP...

Then go on a short road trip (ex: to LA and back). Drive the car until it is empty and then refill the gas tank. Then make an appt with your regular shop and take it there in the morning before you go to work and have them drive it on the freeway for 20-30 mins before they take it for a smog check. You should pass smog.

It's possible that your shop can check your car over and find something else to do to make it pass smog. During your failed smog check, what did your OBD II readings say were the problems?

Submitted by spdrun on January 30, 2016 - 8:31pm.

It should be a test-only station with good rep. I've heard of "test-only" stations "recommending" a mechanic to fix "problems," where there might be some kind of kickback relationship.

This being said, check online reviews. Sleezy mechanics usually get bad ones.

Submitted by bearishgurl on January 30, 2016 - 8:43pm.

spdrun wrote:
It should be a test-only station with good rep. I've heard of "test-only" stations "recommending" a mechanic to fix "problems," where there might be some kind of kickback relationship.

This being said, check online reviews. Sleezy mechanics usually get bad ones.

flu, use your trusted mechanic who has been taking care of this car (or your other cars) for years.

You have to give your mechanic cash to pay their trusted "Test Only" smog station because by law, auto repair shops are not allowed to have anything to do with "smog checks." They'll bring you back a receipt with your name on it.

Submitted by moneymaker on January 31, 2016 - 3:50am.

If it is 16 years old may be time for a new catalytic converter, did this for my 1988 Jeep and it passed easily with flying colors. Need to look at the test results for NOx CO and hydrocarbons.

Submitted by Hobie on January 31, 2016 - 9:45am.

Flu: White smoke is from a coolant. Head gasket failure most common, followed by crack in head. Feel like a running a compression or leak down test??

Black is oil or super rich. Rich would be running really badly and you would have mentioned that already so that's not it.

New catalytic is like the magic pill for older cars! I got a carboratoer in one of mine that runs great but it just is not as clean as fuel injected. I have a running bet with my smog guy!

If you are planning on keeping it, replace vaccuum lines and vacuum control ( CTO )valves. These are the vaccum switches that cycle depending on coolant temp.

But all of that is after having a different smog smog guy - pass or don't pay place.

Oh, and maybe it would be good to make a couple of high speed freeway runs to burn off stuff in the pipe and really heat up the cat. Then take in for the test while cat is hot.

Doesn't the car have to be dyno smogged? Newer cars get the plug in test.

Submitted by utcsox on January 31, 2016 - 9:25am.

Audi, which is owned by VW, shall be able to tell you what you need to pass the smog test....

Submitted by FlyerInHi on January 31, 2016 - 11:19am.

The whole point of the smog program is to get old cars off the road so we can breathe better.
Go with the spirit of be law. Unless you're poor, why insist on keeping an old polluting car?

Submitted by bearishgurl on January 31, 2016 - 11:32am.

FlyerInHi wrote:
The whole point of the smog program is to get old cars off the road so we can breathe better.
Go with the spirit of be law. Unless you're poor, why insist on keeping an old polluting car?
Because the CA BAR (in this case, Bureau of Automotive Repair) has been overreaching for the last 10+ years in its efforts to get what they consider to be "older vehicles" (um, 16 years is a 1999-2000 vehicle and still fairly young) off the road (or registered as non-ops). It's to the point where the stupid (STAR directed) excessive rigamarole (over and above smog checks) that these vehicles are put thru is nothing but a profit center for "Test and Repair Stations" statewide. Its' likely that only 5-15% of these vehicles are actually "gross polluters" and the vehicles that are either originated from MX (or another state which doesn't have biennial smog checks), are in excess of 35 years old or have never been maintained in any way, shape or form. In short, it's a scam.

Joe and Suzy 6pack need to be able to get to work and back. This group is HUGE in CA and the $4K to $8K vehicle suits them just fine! They can't run out and buy a late model vehicle because the monthly payments on it would essentially prevent them from feeding their families.

Submitted by spdrun on January 31, 2016 - 11:32am.

FlyerInHI - horseshit.

Small amount of smoke on startup isn't a major part of the problem. I've seen cars on I-5 literally looking like shot down fighters in WW I movies, wonder how they passed smog.

Besides, it takes a lot more energy and pollution to build a new car than keep driving an old one. Unless you're moving to an electric or much more efficient car, it's better for the environment NOT to junk your old car.

Submitted by FlyerInHi on January 31, 2016 - 11:39am.

It's not a scam. Some countries like Germany don't allow old cars at all.

We should develop sensible public transit. You don't want old cars belching out pollutants in dense populated area. Move out in boonies if you don't want to smog your car.

Submitted by spdrun on January 31, 2016 - 11:41am.

bearishgurl -- can you take any vehicle to a "test only" station where there's theoretically no profit motive for them to fuck you?

Submitted by spdrun on January 31, 2016 - 12:29pm.

It's not a scam. Some countries like Germany don't allow old cars at all.

We should develop sensible public transit. You don't want old cars belching out pollutants in dense populated area. Move out in boonies if you don't want to smog your car.

Most of the tech advances in engines came in the 80s to mid 90s with closed-loop electronic fuel injection, catalytic converters, and onboard diagnostic systems.

If the car otherwise passes the smog test and has a small amount of smoke on initial startup, it's a scam. Plain and simple.

This assumes that there was any smoke, that the people at the smog shop aren't just trying to scam him somehow.

NY has safety inspections. I once took my car to a shop that claimed that one of the joints in the steering system was loose (cost $200 to replace), and wanted to replace a tail light because of a small chip in the glass (cost $300). When I asked them to show me the loose part, they pointed out a part that I had replaced a few months ago after buying the car!

I told the owner to go screw himself with an icepick, literally. He kicked me out without even charging me the inspection fee -- so saved a bit of money there. Nice.

I took it to another garage, it passed inspection (I asked for them to double check the joint and they showed me that it was really OK), and I added to the original garage's collection of 1* Yelp reviews. And the garage had the nerve to respond to my review saying that I was trying to scam them, good for a laugh!

Submitted by bearishgurl on January 31, 2016 - 11:55am.

I don't know how many other (street) vehicles flu has but if the car was in good shape otherwise, if it were me, I'd make sure it passed smog. He can't sell it to anyone but a wrecking yard if it doesn't. If that means replacing the head gasket, so be it. He can get it done for $1100 to $1200 (incl machining, if necessary) by numerous backyard and private mechanics in the county vs $1800 - $2000 at a shop.

And it doesn't matter what it's current "book value" is. Flu claims $1500 but if it looks good (no body damage or big upholstery rips) runs good and tests out fine by a savvy private party (or their mechanic), it could easily have a "market value" of $2500 to $4500. There is a BIG MARKET for decent-running older vehicles, not only in CA but the entire country! This is so because the alternative is to buy a later-model vehicle with NAV and parking assist, iphone hookup, blah, blah, etc which jacks up the resale value exponentially. A large segment of the used-vehicle-buying population could care less about all that junk.

Submitted by flu on January 31, 2016 - 11:58am.

utcsox wrote:
Audi, which is owned by VW, shall be able to tell you what you need to pass the smog test....

HAHAHAHA...... Actually, my ECU/car computer said it was just fine. I failed the visual.... I guess that's consistent with what VW/Audi would say.....!

Submitted by bearishgurl on January 31, 2016 - 11:58am.

FlyerInHi wrote:
It's not a scam. Some countries like Germany don't allow old cars at all.

We should develop sensible public transit. You don't want old cars belching out pollutants in dense populated area. Move out in boonies if you don't want to smog your car.

Umm, SD is not SF, brian. We don't have "sensible" and reliable public transit. We have a cobbled-together transfer system which could easily take a rider nearly 3 hours to go 20 miles.

You're talking "pie-in-the-sky" and I'm talking reality here.

Submitted by bearishgurl on January 31, 2016 - 12:02pm.

flu wrote:
utcsox wrote:
Audi, which is owned by VW, shall be able to tell you what you need to pass the smog test....

HAHAHAHA...... Actually, my ECU/car computer said it was just fine. I failed the visual.... I guess that's consistent with what VW/Audi would say.....!

Glad to hear that, flu. Now .... focus on any errands you need to do in the far reaches of Ventura County. Maybe there's even a meeting you can attend up there for work that you can get paid 54 cents per mile for :=D

Get crackin' ....

Oh, and first, get that stuff ordered from Amazon. It's good stuff!

Submitted by spdrun on January 31, 2016 - 12:05pm.

I failed the visual....

What about YOUR visual? Did you see the car emitting white smoke on startup? Was it a wet/rainy day (i.e. could it have been steam)?

Submitted by bearishgurl on January 31, 2016 - 12:06pm.

spdrun wrote:
bearishgurl -- can you take any vehicle to a "test only" station where there's theoretically no profit motive for them to fuck you?

Yes. Because you don't have to take it back to them when you want a retest and they won't be holding your vehicle "hostage," trying to 'hard-sell you that you leave it with them and pay $940 (or some other wildly unrealistic amount) they will assure you that it "passes" smog.

All a "Test Only" station made is $40 - $50 off you.

Submitted by flu on January 31, 2016 - 12:10pm.

Hobie wrote:
Flu: White smoke is from a coolant. Head gasket failure most common, followed by crack in head. Feel like a running a compression or leak down test??

Black is oil or super rich. Rich would be running really badly and you would have mentioned that already so that's not it.

New catalytic is like the magic pill for older cars! I got a carboratoer in one of mine that runs great but it just is not as clean as fuel injected. I have a running bet with my smog guy!

If you are planning on keeping it, replace vaccuum lines and vacuum control ( CTO )valves. These are the vaccum switches that cycle depending on coolant temp.

But all of that is after having a different smog smog guy - pass or don't pay place.

Oh, and maybe it would be good to make a couple of high speed freeway runs to burn off stuff in the pipe and really heat up the cat. Then take in for the test while cat is hot.

Doesn't the car have to be dyno smogged? Newer cars get the plug in test.

Actually, starting last year I think, cars 2000 and newer just do the OBDII scan test. They don't actually need to be dynoed. Which is weird. I always passed the dyno test. I didn't notice the smoke at all before. My car unfortunately is MY2000 so it does the new test. which should have been easier...

I think what did it is I probably have a tiny leak somewhere, that normally wouldn't have caused it if I were driving that car daily. But I've left this car parked for almost 1 and 1/2months, and I didn't bother to drive it on an extended drive before taking it to the smog place. I just tried it just now. I see the normal white exhaust you would get on a cold start, but after warmup, I don't see that huge smoke that apparently the smog place saw.

It's funny that my miata with a supercharger and borderline legal exhaust passed with no problem. I was more worried about that one failing, because that thing is probably more pollutant than my audi. I did change the cat on the Miata since it was only $200 and easy to access.

But I agree. I'm not going back to any smog place on Miramar. None of the smog places offer a free retest, unlike Poway Smog and other places off of Poway.

Oh well. Maybe it's time for that BRZ/FRS anyway.

Submitted by flu on January 31, 2016 - 12:15pm.

FlyerInHi wrote:
It's not a scam. Some countries like Germany don't allow old cars at all.

We should develop sensible public transit. You don't want old cars belching out pollutants in dense populated area. Move out in boonies if you don't want to smog your car.

Maybe not, but the Methane gas leak at Porter Ranch pretty much eliminated all of ev benefits in the state.

http://ecowatch.com/2016/01/15/porter-ra...

http://www.autoblog.com/2016/01/28/calif...


California's methane leak has wiped out most EV benefits
With Methane's Potent Effect On The Atmosphere, Porter Rance Is A Bad Scene

In November, an underground natural gas storage facility near Porter Ranch, CA started leaking. Since then, it has spewed an immense amount of methane into the air. How much is still an unknown, but it's thrown more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than any other facility in California.

So, what does this all have to do with cars? Well, other than the connection between leaks from facilities like this and natural gas cars, it's the emissions. California has been the undisputed leader in moving its vehicle fleet away from gasoline. Thanks to zero-emission vehicle mandates and high-gas prices, Californians have purchased a lot of clean cars, many of them electric. Sad to say, but the methane leak at Porter Ranch has wiped out most of California's electric vehicle efforts. As the Los Angeles Times puts it, the leak has spewed as many greenhouse gases as a car would emit if it drove 5 million – sorry, billion – miles. Yes, billion. With a B.

While the exact numbers are guesses at best (it's impossible, apparently, to know how fast the methane is leaking out) here's how the math is likely to work out when we compare the leak to EVs. The leak is spewing around 1,200 tons of methane per day and is estimated to take six months to repair. We're currently in the third month. So, 1,200 tons for 180 days is 216,000 tons of methane. Since methane is 29 times more powerful than CO2 as a greenhouse gas, those 216,000 tons are the equivalent of 6.2 million tons of CO2.

Now, lets' look at the average new car in 2016, which will emit the equivalent of about 60 tons of CO2 over its life. Given that, 6.2 million tons is roughly the same as 103,000 standard, fossil fuel cars. But electric vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions and, since California has sold a bit over 150,000 EVs so car, all of the greenhouse gas benefits of two-thirds of all the EVs in California are being wiped out by this single methane leak. That's not to say all of those EVs were bought in vain – far from it – but it does put the Porter Ranch debacle into perspective for those of us who care about cleaner cars.

Submitted by spdrun on January 31, 2016 - 12:15pm.

If you don't see the white smoke, sounds like the smog place is somehow trying to cheat you or is totally inept. Take it to a place with good reviews for a re-test. If it passes, dispute the CC charge with the original shop. No sense in supporting scammers.

Submitted by bearishgurl on January 31, 2016 - 12:14pm.

Peeps, the moral of this story here is that if you receive a "STAR directed" registration in the mail from the DMV, you will likely have over two months before your registration expires. Don't wait until the last week or two to get a smog check! You need to carefully plan and "prep" your vehicle for its STAR-directed "exam." :=0

I hope flu has ample time left so he won't be hit with excessive registration fees.

Submitted by bearishgurl on January 31, 2016 - 12:17pm.

spdrun wrote:
If you don't see the white smoke, sounds like the smog place is somehow trying to cheat you or is totally inept.
flu posted that he took the car in after it sat for weeks without driving it (or it was driven very little). That's a no-no, especially when smogging for a "STAR-directed" registration renewal.

Submitted by bearishgurl on January 31, 2016 - 12:20pm.

spdrun wrote:
If you don't see the white smoke, sounds like the smog place is somehow trying to cheat you or is totally inept. Take it to a place with good reviews for a re-test. If it passes, dispute the CC charge with the original shop. No sense in supporting scammers.
He won't be able to get the money back for his original smog test.

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