Vehicle emissions testing at a consumer level seems — at least from a vehicle owner’s standpoint — like a reasonably straightforward process. You drive your car to the testing facility, and if it’s a newer car sometimes they just plug into your OBDII port; if it’s an older car then they’ll put it on the rollers and check the tailpipe emissions. If everything goes well, you’re good for a couple of years.
Things are much, much different from a manufacturer’s standpoint, especially in Europe. To illustrate just how complicated and involvedis for carmakers, Volkswagen (I know, I know, but hold your laughter please) made a superinteresting and informative explainer video, which it released on Thursday.
The cool part is that not only does it explain just what theis and what it’s measuring, it goes into the Real Driving Emissions (RDE) test. Perhaps the most interesting part is the explanation of the evaporative emissions test procedure.
In the Evap test, a vehicle is essentially baked at up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit in an airtight box, and the interior of the box is monitored for hydrocarbons leaking from a vehicle’s fuel tank. Currently, this test takes 24 hours, but next year the length will go up to 48 hours without a corresponding bump in the acceptable hydrocarbon limit.
The testing doesn’t end when the vehicle is sold either. There are governmental spot checks of customer vehicles for up to five years and 62,000 miles to make sure that the vehicle’s emission control systems stay in compliance.
So, the next time you start complaining that it’s time to smog your late-model car here in America, think of this and be glad it’s so easy.