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EMISSIONS RECALLS

IN ADDITION TO SAFETY RECALLS, THERE IS ANOTHER
recall program that has been mandated by Congress that you can use to get your vehicle fixed free. Established by the National Clean Air Act, this program's purpose is to correct defects that cause engines to expel excessive amounts of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and oxides of nitrogen into the atmosphere. The free repairs made by a manufacturer to prevent air pollution will usually correct a performance problem—hard starting, hesitation,
misfiring, surging, rough idling, lack of power, pinging, backfire, and abnormal fuel consumption—that a customer may be having with a car's engine.

PERFORMANCE PROBLEMS DEFINED
Hard starting occurs when the engine cranks normally but doesn't start promptly. Or the engine may start promptly but stalls almost as soon as it gets going or when you shift the transmission into gear.

Hesitation, which is also called sag or stumble, describes a lack of response from the engine as you press the accelerator pedal to get going from a standstill or to increase driving speed—for example, to pass another car. There is a momentary flat spot.

Misfiring is a pulsation that's felt when the engine is running at a slow rate of speed. Usually, the pulsation is not felt when driving above 30 miles per hour.

Surging refers to a variation in engine speed that occurs despite a steady foot on the accelerator pedal. Although you don't vary the pressure on the pedal, the engine alternately speeds up and slows down as if it can't make up its mind.


Rough idling occurs when the engine fails to run at a consistent speed, causing the car to shake while it's standing still. If the condition is severe enough, the engine will stall.

Lack of power occurs when you don't get the power you expect when accelerating. There is little or no increase in speed when you press down on the accelerator pedal.


Pinging, which is also called spark knock, auto-ignition, or detonation, is a metallic sound that comes from the engine. It usually gets worse as you accelerate but tapers off as you ease up on the accelerator pedal.

Backfire occurs when fuel ignites in the intake manifold or the exhaust system because of a leaking intake or exhaust valve. It is characterized by a loud popping noise.

Abnormal fuel consumption occurs when the engine uses more gasoline than it should. If there is one condition that characterizes high exhaust emissions, it is this one. When a vehicle is recalled to correct an engine that produces high levels of hydrocarbons and
or carbon monoxide, that engine is consuming too much gasoline and is probably also demonstrating one of the other performance problems.

THE UNNECESSARY COST OF POOR PERFORMANCE
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which oversees the clean-air recall program, estimates that car owners unnecessarily pay millions of dollars for repairing poor performance problems because they don't heed exhaust emissions recall notices.

Either they disregard the notices, don't receive the notices because of a postal or administrative error, or don't relate the engine performance problem they're having to a recall for high emissions. For example. General Motors recalled 377,000 1987 to 1990
models to correct a malfunction that causes the 2.3-liter Quad Four engines to emit excessive amounts of hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide. The defect also causes misfiring.
Misfiring occurs when gasoline in one of the cylinders doesn't ignite. The unbumed gasoline is thrown out the tailpipe, resulting in high emissions and poor gas mileage. Usually, a car owner
doesn't investigate an exhaust emissions recall when an engine begins to misfire. Instead, the car is brought to a mechanic for repair. In the case of the Quad Four engine, it would cost the
owner about $125 to replace a cracked ignition coil. Under the terms of the recall, GM will install the new coil for free.

POINTS TO KEEP IN MIND
Unlike a safety recall, which has an eight-year statute of limitations, an exhaust emissions recall remains in effect for the life of the car. Therefore, this program has nothing to do with the five- year or 50,000-mile new car emissions control systems warranty. If a problem develops after this warranty expires, there is no obligation on the part of the manufacturer to fix it for free. On the other hand, if your car is recalled for an emissions condition, accompanied by an engine performance problem, it will be fixed free regardless of time elapsed.

ERRONEOUS STATE INSPECTION TEST
There is another point to keep in mind about exhaust emissions that could save you money. If the state in which you reside is like most states, it requires an exhaust emissions inspection before vehicle registration is renewed. If your car fails an inspection, don't make any repairs without having the car reinspected.

Some exhaust emissions control systems are supposed to be inactive when the engine isn't fully wanned up or if it exceeds the temperature range that is considered normal. Excessive exhaust emissions may result if, for example, you have to wait too long on an inspection line with the engine running at idle speed. Consequently, the car may fail inspection although there's nothing wrong with it.

If you have to wait on line longer than 10 minutes, bring engine temperature down to a more normal level just before the inspection is done by shifting the transmission into Park or Neutral and depressing the accelerator pedal to bring the engine speed up to a level that is equal to a driving speed of 55 to 60 miles per hour Run the engine at this speed for at least a minute before the inspection, keeping your other foot firmly on the brake pedal

FINDING A RELEVANT RECALL
To find out if your vehicle is included in an exhaust emissions recall ask a new car dealer who sells your make of car to enter the vehicle identification number (VIN) into the computer tied into the manufacturer's recall databank. The computer will reveal if an exhaust emissions recall has been announced for your vehicle. You can also request this information from the customer service department of the manufacturer or by writing to the

Manufacturing Operations Division,
Environmental Protection Agency 401
M Street, SW,
Washington, DC 20460.

The phone number is 202-260-2479

Be sure to provide the VIN. With information about an exhaust emissions recall in hand, take the vehicle to a new car dealer who sells your make of car and have the free repair done

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