Thursday, June 07, 2012


My truck failed emissions because it has a "service required" light on.

I know what it is: Nissan had a recall of the fuel guage sending unit issued when my truck was 20,000 miles over the warranty period and they wouldn't fix it.  It is a $1,000.00 fix (650.00 for the part).  It has nothing to do with emissions.  However in Arizona you can't pass an "emissions test" with a repair light on.

I had to take it to emissions twice. The first time is free.  The second time you pay 30.00 and when you fail they give you the computer read-out.  It said "fuel guage sending unit failure".  Duh. 

They give me the paper and a brochure and say, "You can get a waiver for one year if you can't afford to repair the vehicle.  You have to get an estimate that shows the repair is over 450.00. Then go to this State testing place and they'll give you the waiver."

I get an estimate and I go there.  I show the guy the computer read out and the estimate to repair the problem.

This is our conversation virtually verbatim:

"Where's your receipts?"

"What receipts?"

"You have to spend 450.00 to try to fix the problem."

"The person at the emissons station said it had to be over 450.00 to fix."

"No, you have to SPEND 450.00 to try to fix the problem first."

"But the problem costs 1,000.00 to fix... and besides it has nothing to do with emissions. It's the gas guage."

"It doesn't matter. You have to spend 450.00 to try to fix it."

"But the part alone is 650.00.  Anything they do for 450.00 will be a waste of money that I already don't have."

"It doesn't matter, you have to spend 450.00 to TRY to fix it."

"So I have to spend 450.00 for nothing."

"No, not for nothing. You have to TRY to fix the problem to get the waiver."

"You've got to be kidding."

"Why would I kid about that? We can't give a waiver to everyone who walks in here and says they can't afford to fix their car."

"I guess that's true.  Thanks."

"Come back with your receipts and we'll run it through for you."

Yeah.... the air will be cleaner when I get my gas guage fixed.

That's what makes this country great.


Kirk said...

That sucks, man. I hate those idiot state workers and their arbitrary rules. Whatever happened to government FOR THE PEOPLE. It amazes me that more people don't go postal having to deal with shit like that. Can't we all just get along?

Anonymous said...

This website seems to indicate that you can bring in receipts OR an estimate:

Sounds like you got stuck with one of these stick-up-the-you-know-what guys.

Anonymous said...

The state that is going to crack down on illegal aliens without profiling cracked down on auto emissions by using "service needed" lights as a proxy for pollution?

Anam Cara said...

I don't know what options you have, but here in Northern Virginia there are LOTS of DMV's. I'd take my estimate and go to a different one - along with a print out of the website anonymous cited - until I found someone who would grant the waiver.

magda said...

How much would it cost to remove that light?

Chris Jones said...

If the truck is too old for the manufacturer to fix, there must be a few of them in the junkyard. See if you can find one and pull the $650.00 part out of it & have it put in. That will (I think) be less than $450.

I think this is all part of your state's economic stimulus plan. If you force the citizens to spend money they don't have on things they don't need, it will increase lending and get money moving through the economy.

Steve Robinson said...

Yes, I was told an estimate over 450.00. The guy at the station said I had to SPEND 450.00 FIRST. He was not to be contradicted.

Anam, you can get emissions tests lots of places but there is only ONE place you can get a waiver in AZ... and the one guy who manned the station (at least that morning).

Magda, I've thought about that too, but then you wouldn't know if something else is wrong that MIGHT be important.

Chris, the problem is the part is a defective part that was recalled. The truck is a 2007, so not that old. I was over the mileage limit to get it fixed under warranty. It is in the gas tank. It's 450.00 labor to pull the gas tank and replace the part.

Kirk, This is the wild, wild West. No gun control. 112 degrees. It's a dangerous combo in these parts.

Intellectoid, LOL! Yep. Maybe I should sue the Motor Vehicle and Dept. of Air Quality for "emissions profiling".

Elijahmaria said...

Father...where is Moo?

Kirk said...

I think Magda has the best idea. Some would call it the "black electrical tape solution," but yours will be slightly more involved. Disconnect the light, if only temporarily.

I've got a similar problem. The check engine light on my 2010 Volkswagen stays on pretty much constantly, except when I take it to the dealer, when it shuts itself off. And the system keeps no history of errors, so if the light is not on, they can't read the error code. Lucky for me, I like in a state that does not require inspections of any kind.

Anonymous said...

Some vehicles will let you reset the light temporarily, at least. It might stay off long enough to get a pass. It would depend on your model.

Unknown said...

You could always break the warning light.

Matushka Anna said...

I'm going with everyone who said to disconnect the warning light. Our car has the same problem. We've taken it in and nothing is wrong except the indicator. MS doesn't have testing either so we're lucking out.

Anam Cara said...

Disconnecting the light reminded me of when we had the opposite problem. When we lived in Panama we had an old junker car that had been wired and rewired. There was no way we could get the left rear tail light to work. So my husband put a flashlight in behind the red plastic panel. When it was dark, he opened the trunk, turned on the flashlight, and drove. We were never ticketed (guess no one noticed that the light didn't get brighter when the brakes were applied)

Yep, disconnect the light for the inspection and then reconnect.

(if it was a recall, why is there a mileage cap on it to have it fixed? Isn't a recall a recall?)

Steve Robinson said...

Unfortunately the problem now is that I am in the loop for them hooking up the computer reader to pass. If I disconnect the light now it will show up. There's no way out of this one now.

I actually did reset the computer and the light was off, so I ran it back in but the computer readout showed it had been reset and I hadn't completed the required mileage for it to detect problems. Sho' nuff, the light came back on.

The recall had a mileage cap on it. I was over the mileage in the first two years I owned the truck. The recall came out in the 3rd year. Nissan wouldn't fix it. Period. There was a lot of bitching on the internet about that. I just fill up and re-set my trip meter and fill up again at 350 miles. No problem. Heck, I had trucks with no A/C, gas guages, windshield wipers and turn signals for 25 years. They were all so old they didn't need emissions tests because they were "antiques".

Dana said...

Hi Steve - yup, bureaucracy in action, your tax dollars at work.

My husband is a Federal employee. The other night he was reading something about a local bureaucratic snafu in our newspaper, and came up with one of the best bon mots I have ever heard from him:

It's just like the Federal government: If it ain't broke, we'll just keep "fixing" it until it is!


magda said...

Shucks. Well, you have until October to call Car Talk... and see whether they have any advice (or at least condolences).

Ian Climacus said...

Oh my; I thought I had odd experiences with bureaucracy, but this is the worst. I do hope you can get it sorted with no cash layout, or at least a very low amount -- far less than $450.

James the Thickheaded said...

I love this... it's so... so...?

My friendly engineer's answer for not putting money into anything: Something breaks, it loses the right to be attached. Remove the thing entirely. If the electronic brain fitzes afterwards, you take out the electronic brain. ANd so on.

As my wife said, "Y'know all this stuff was passed way back when cars were dirty. Now they're all pretty doggone clean. I'm thinking it's just completely unnecessary. Even when you fail, you probably fail at a level that's waaaay cleaner than the fail level back in the early 1980's when this started. BUT... all these people have jobs, pensions, etc. So we continue to play the game."

WHat a racket! Kind of like the numbers game... that used to be run by criminals and therefore illegal. Now the state runs the numbers and acts like a criminal.
They call this progress?

Keith said...

Is your truck fully insured? I would hate to see something happen to it, but...

Andrew said...

If you complain to Nissan loud enough they usually will pay for half of the repair. It is their known problem and have been lucky with GM, Chrysler, Ford, and Honda for similar problems.
Go back to the dealer, make a loud noise about it and talk to the service manager. You could also try a different dealer. If they do not do anything call Nissan, the companies usually will make good.

Elizabeth said...

Steve, I'm confused (not uncommon for me). I thought you had moved out of AZ, and took a job in public education. Have you now returned to AZ, or am I completely clueless, and you never left the state??

Unknown said...

Hi Elizabeth, yes you are confused, but not much. I did change careers but not states. I traveled out of state for work, but not to move.

Hira Animfefte said...

Do what my dad does. Disconnect the battery and reconnect the battery. The light will have turned off for long enough to pass inspection.

If it weren't for that trick, my car would never pass inspection. The "check engine" light has been on for YEARS.

Hira Animfefte said...

My car is, btw, a POS that runs. That's how you'd sell it. "Runs good." Or maybe just "Runs."