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OBDII Monitor Readiness Concerns

Modern vehicles perform various self-tests (Monitors) in order to ensure the OBDII and emission control systems are functioning properly. In many cases, Monitor Readiness problems can cause the vehicle to fail a smog check. Note that it is possible for a vehicle to fail the smog check for Monitor Readiness even though the MIL or Check Engine light is not on and there are no obvious indicators of a problem. Despite being driven hundreds of miles after failing the test, many vehicles will not run all the Monitors until a thorough diagnosis and repair is performed. Most vehicles need to complete a specific set of enabling criteria (Drive Cycle) in order to cause a Monitor to run. Note that Readiness Monitors must be rerun after a repair like disconnecting a vehicle’s battery or replacing a defective emissions component. 

In some instances after following instructions to “drive the car” to correct the Monitor problem, consumers are again instructed to simply “drive the car more,” or are incorrectly referred to the Referee to “override the problem.” If you are given these vague or inaccurate instructions, you may wish to have your vehicle diagnosed at another qualified repair facility that is more familiar with OBDII Readiness Monitor and Drive Cycle issues. While there are some exceptions, the overwhelming majority of vehicles will run all the Monitors provided it has been properly diagnosed and repaired.

Referee Centers also reinspect vehicles that receive a "DATA CHECK FAIL" during a BAR-OIS inspection. A "DATA CHECK FAIL" occurs when data downloaded from the vehicle's OBD system during its last inspection is inappropriate for that vehicle. In order for the vehicle to receive a Smog Check certificate, the Referee must perform an inspection and verify the appropriateness of the data. Note that once the Referee issues a Smog Check certificate to your vehicle, it may again be inspected at other stations during the next inspection cycle. A Referee inspection appointment may be scheduled by calling (800) 622-7733.

On May 4, 2015, BAR implemented OBD readiness monitor requirements on both the BAR-97 and BAR-OIS inspection systems.

A vehicle will not pass a smog check if it is:

  • Gas Powered: 1996 to 1999 with more than one incomplete monitor
  • Gas Powered and Hybrid: 2000 and newer with more than the evaporative system monitor incomplete
  • Diesel Powered: 1998 to 2006 with any monitor incomplete, or 2007 and newer with more than two monitors incomplete

Resources

  • For more information on OBDII Monitor Readiness Standards, visit OBD Reference.  
  • For more general information on the Referee program, visit Referee Program.
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