I took my 97 Accent GT in to get it smog tested today.
The guy said it passed emissions fine, but failed due to some
electronic thing that he hooked up on the front left dashboard. Said
it would not communicate with the car properly.
It says on my report:
FAILED DUE TO OBD2 Communication problem
recommend diagnosis $65.
On the official VIR it says :
"FAIL System Malfunction Light"
"vehicle failed the MIL/Check Engine Light due to OBD communications
Everything else is either a PASS or a NOT APPL.
What does this failure mean? (the check engine light was NOT on, so I
don't know what the above "system malfunction light" refers to)
What is the best way to proceed? What should I expect to pay for
fixing this? Is it something I need a dealer repair place to fix, or
can any good mechanic trace it down and fix it?
Any input from you experts would be appreciated!
It simply means the station's scan tool wouldn't communicate with the car.
It's possible your car has a problem, but it's also possible it's a vehicle
that some scan tools have difficulty communicating with. I checked for
TSBs pertaining to this issue and found none.
I don't know how emissions testing works where you are (California, if I
recall), but if independent shops do the emissions testing, you may wish
to take your car to a local Hyundai dealer for the emissions test if you
can do that. Their scan tool will be able to communicate with the vehicle
if nothing is wrong with it. If your check engine lamp comes on for a few
seconds when you turn on the key and start the car, all is probably well.
The purpose of checking it with a scanner is to verify that there are no
fault codes stored and that the system monitoring tests have run and
What's a TSB? Some kind of report on problems with certain cars?
Independent garages do the testing, here, but I have my doubts as to
whether or not a Hyundai dealer would have a contract to do that, as
they probably make a lot more money doing other things (like any
repair they do, which they inflate the price about 30-50% higher than
other garages) I'll call and ask, though. But I would hate to get
stuck with them doing the repair, as they will charge me an arm and a
So that would mean there is not a problem with my light, that it is
THEIR testing device? or what?
But here's my dilemma as I see it:
First of all, I went to this place who promised a free retest, but
then they told me that it's only a free retest if I have the repair
work done with THEM. So if I don't get the repair done with them, I am
out $30-40 more. The other thing is, now I am afraid to re-test with
them because maybe their tester is not communicating properly with my
car. In which case I need to go somewhere else...
Secondly, the nearest dealer is 30-40 min. away which means if it does
not pass there, I would be stuck paying them their exorbitant repair
prices to remove the dash and track down the problem...
Also, the complication that if I test again and it fails, a 2nd time,
doesn't failing a 2nd time require it to be fixed at a special station
or something like that?
My check engine light did come on recently, when a connector for the
air flow sensor came loose (about 2 weeks ago), so I doubt the problem
is the bulb is burnt out.
IF the problem is indeed that the garage's testing device is not the
right one for my car, then I have to go back to another place, not
there. But how do I know if the next place I go to does not also have
the same problem???
This is turning into a goddamned nightmare. If they're going to
require smog tests, then the damned machines should all work
correctly! Otherwise, someone like me could spend hundreds of dollars
trying to fix a problem that is not my problem at all, but rather the
problem of the machine the Station is using.
I'm confused as to how to proceed...
TSB stands for Technical Service Bulletin. Hyundai has released none
pertaining to this issue for your vehicle.
Don't think that going to the dealer means they have to do the repair. If
the dealer gets the same results, don't you still have the option of going
back to the original facility for repairs? If there is something wrong
with you car, it could be an extensive repair, so not knowing the
capabilities and expertise of the original shop, I don't really know the
feasability of them doing the repairs.
Normal operation for your check engine lamp is for it to come on for a few
seconds when you start the vehicle. It's intended to tell you the lamp is
working properly. If the lamp goes out, it typically means there have
been no failures for at least the last three drive cycles.
Honestly, I can't tell you if a second failure requires a repair at a
separate station. Perhaps someone here with more California knowledge can
tell you. Or, you could try to contact CARB yourself.
Did the same place that did the emissions check repair the car for the
faulty connector? If so, they should have a scanner capable of
communicating with your vehicle. Whoever did that repair obviously had
the capability of communicating at that time to be able to read teh code.
If it's not the same facility, does the place that did your repair do
emissions testing? This may be an alternative avenue to seeking the
dealer for the emissions test.
Unfortunately, the communication issue is complicated. In 1997, there
were several communication protocols that were used. While all cars met
the required protocols and generic scan tools were in most cases designed
to communicate with all protocols, some tools still had difficulty
communicating with some vehicles. This is actually another reason to
contact CARB. They should have a list of vehicles that don't communicate
well with scan tools and should be able to tell you whether yours is one
of those vehicles.
I just checked. There is no dealer that does smog checks around here,
as I suspected. They will diagose the problem for $95 and apply that
towards parts and labor. The worst part of this is that the nearest
dealer is 30-40 minutes away which means I'd have to drive down there
early in the morning on my day off and stay there until they were
done. THEN, I'd have to pay to recheck it down there so that if it
failed again for the same problem I could take it right back to THEM.
Basically this could be an entire day shot to hell, PLUS the money
which now includes paying yet another smog check station. Sorry if I'm
venting. This is very frustrating. The car runs fine, is running clean
according to the emissions test, and yet I have to jump through all
Okay, so if it comes on okay, when I start, how could it be that it
fails the smog check? I am thinking I may have gotten a false
testing/failing from this station.
I called the BAR, they said I can keep testing it and fixing it until
it passes, and if it costs more than $450 I can apply for help with
the cost, or something like that. God forbid.
No, I WISH it were that simple. The guy who did the faulty connector
repair and tune up does not do smog checks.
No, (I could be wrong here, but) I think he just saw the cable
disconnected, connected it and saw that it was then running fine. He
may have that scanner, though. I'll ask.
They don't do it.
What is CARB and how do I contact them? Do you mean BAR, the
California Bureau of Auto Repairs? And if there IS an issue with my
vehicle not communicating well with scan tools, what then? Will they
tell me a special place to go that does? And will I get my money back
from the first place that didn't communicate with my vehicle
I'm now debating whether to spend a day driving down to the Hyundai
Dealer and retesting down there at added cost and time, or just giving
my local Mazda guy a chance and then being able to re-test here for
free. IF he can do the job it will be a lot easier for me and probably
cheaper too. But if he can't then I'm just wasting time and money...
Tough choice... Guess I'll call my local guy and just ask him point
blank if he thinks he can handle it or if I should take it to Hyundai
and see what he says...
I thought CARB was the California Air Resources Board, but there seems to
be good info from BAR. Unfortunately, my knowledge is very limited and I
don't think I can be of much more use regarding who to contact
You might try calling the shop that did the connector repair and asking
them about whether they used a scan tool and whether it communicated.
That looks similar to what I'm talking about. Even if your car isn't on
that list, they may still have info that isn't listed there. So if you
haven't done so already, you may want to ask them if they know of any
specific issues with your car and certain scan tools.
Well, it's not quite that simple. This is one of the ways the state makes
sure your car hasn't been tampered with and that everything
emissions-related is working properly. That's the whole point of the
standardized OBD-II connector and system. They can check and see that
everything checks out okay.
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