How to Pass Inspection & Complete a Drive Cycle





Introduction: How to Pass Inspection & Complete a Drive Cycle

About: Field Guide for the Millennial Man

In this video I'll show you how to complete a drive cycle and pass inspection after turing off your check engine light.  It is true that your car will not pass inspection if the check engine light is on.  However there is more to it than simply turning it off.  By the way the easiest way to turn off the check engine light would be to disconnect the battery for 30 seconds.  Inorder to pass inspection your car needs to complete a full drive cycle so that all (8) internal monitors have a status of "Ready".  If any of the (8) monitors have a status of "Incomplete" that means you have not yet completed a full drive cycle and you need to drive your car around more.  Your car will need to experience city driving situations and highway driving situations inorder to complete a full drive cycle.  

Usually if your check engine light is on that means you need some repair work done on your car but that is not always the case.  I drive a 2002 Chevy Impala and the check engine light has been coming on for about 4 years.  The trouble code is "P0420".  That means the catalytic converter is functioning below the normal efficiency levels.  Back in 2007 when I first noticed the problem I had the catalytic converter replaced.  At that time the performance of the Impala was greatly reduced.  Specifically when ever the accelerator was pressed there was a significant time delay before the car would accelerate.  It almost seemed as if the transmission was slipping and then suddenly it would catch and the car would accelerate.  The problem however was not the automatic transmission.  The problem was the catalytic converter.  There was a carbon blockage that clogged the air flowing through the power train.  Exhaust was escaping through the EGR valve because the catalytic convert was blocked up so much.  So I bought the new catalytic converter.  The cost was roughly $800 as I learned that my vehicle was manufactured to the California emissions standards and not the federal emissions standars.  That was news to me.

About two or three months after the catalytic convert was replaced the check engine light came on again.  This is around the time I asked for an OBD-II code scanner for Christmas.  The same "P0240" trouble code was being stored in the engine control module.  The catalytic converter was under warranty so I had it replaced thinking it may have been defective.  Again the "P0420" trouble code came back.  At this point I started to see a pattern.

There was no performance problem with my car anymore.  That had been resolved after the first catalytic converter was installed.  The only issue was that the check engine light kept coming on.  The Oxygen Sensors before and after the catalytic convert have been tested and I was assured they were functioning properly.  If the Oxygen Sensors are out of whack that could possibly trick the engine control module into thinking that there is a problem with the catalytic converter.  So that was ruled out.  

To this day in order to pass inspection I have to erase the check engine light and complete a drive cycle.  Only then will my car pass inspection.  Of course two weeks after the inspection the check engine light will come back on.  Hope this informations helps someone out, or maybe you have your own theory about whats really wrong.  I would love to hear your thoughts.

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    Hey Big Nate... I have a 2004 Honda Accord V-6. I had to have the downstream O2 Sensor replaced. I've now driven 398 miles and have followed the mechanics instructions as to how to complete drive cycle. My computer will not reset itself. All codes have been cleared and the battery was also disconnected. Do you have any suggestions?

    I have a 2013 Chevy Impala took it for a inspection yesterday and I was told I needed to complete a driving cycle and I have drove 120 plus miles still no luck any suggestion. May I mention took it to the dealer about a month ago for the check engine light he said it was a bad sensor

    so how do you know if it's completed it's "drive cycle" and ready after clearing the code? I would think that after you cleared the code and then had to drive it to complete the drive cycle & it run it's tests that the check engine light would pop back up during that process? maybe I'm missing a key step in between the two? please help.. thanks!

    So, the check engine light is a constant source of eye roll-itis in the
    Jeep, so much so that there is a meme dedicated to it that says "this
    little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine" and shows an image of the
    malfunction indicator light. Well, I was using a stand-in gas cap which I
    replaced with a mopar in order to pass inspection in Texas, and the
    Jeep was so familiar with the engine light, that it left the sweet thing
    on, much to my chagrin. Following your advise, I disconnected the
    battery, and allowed it to sit a spell before re-attaching it. When I
    fired up the engine, im-ME-diately, that pesky light went bye-bye!
    Thanks a million; I'll be getting my state inspection tomorrow.

    Please correct me if I am wrong, but the purpose of completing the drive cycle is to give the computer ample time (mileage) to compile the adequate sensor data needed to identify any out of range values. The module is "ready" when enough data has been collected and if the problem has not been corrected at this point it will simply trigger another code and tbe CE light will already be back on. In your case, it's a couple of months before the code is thrown, (emission faults usually take longer to show up) but experience varies greatly between different makes and models... and age is definately a factor. You were probably able to make it back to the inspection station before the light came back on because the technology in your car is over 12 years old. Late models are not near so forgiving and most likely this method will be of little to no use.

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    my 1999 Volvo is like that - it doesn't even run the EVAP test until a drive cycle - meaning drive 25-30 miles, shut down, cool off engine, start cold, drive ~25-30 miles without throwing any other CEL codes (!) Only THEN does it even test the EVAP system, and if that passes, all Ready codes are 'ready'.

    Thank you very much for posting this very helpful information. I also checked out the video and it was extremely helpful. I own a 2010 Chevy Impala and I've had a check engine light for about a year now. The car drives with no problem but when I went to go do an inspection in the state of Delaware I failed. I try to do the right thing and take it to a mechanic he charge me $100 for the diagnostic and then informed me that all together it would cost about $724 to fix all the problems and get that check engine light off. This was very distressing as I am on a tight budget and didn't have that kind of money at this time. Also I don't really trust the mechanic being that I'm very new to this area and feel that it could be something as simple as a gas cap and he's just taking me for a ride. I'm going to get a new gas cap cuz I do need one and buy the cheapest scanner. I'll post the results. Wish me luck!

    Hello this is strock can you tell how to do drive cycle for chrysler 300m 2000 year

    Basically what u are saying complete a full drive cycle turn off check engine light you should be able to pass the inspection

    sometimes it takes 300 miles to pass a drive cycle

    This helped alot! I'll try and use this information to fixing my car..I have a 2001 chevy impala that won't pass smog, when I took it in the smog technician said that it's not reading on the you know what can cause this?

    Extremely helpful. I have a Honda Accord 2001. Its original Cat was broken last year. I replaced it with a new after-market one from Midas. But after a while the check-engine light came back due to that P0420 code. Midas then changed the Oxygen sensor, but that did not help. They then replaced the Cat with another one of better quality (and I had to pay more), but it did not solve the problem either. I brought the car back to them a few times more, and they could not get rid of the code permanently. I got tired and did not bring the car back to Midas for warrantee any more. But the deadline come for me to have the emission test done. So I disconnected the battery to get rid of the check-engine light just before brought the care in for an emission test. It failed because the car was not ready as you explained. So I disconnected the battery again and followed suggested procedures to get the car ready for a test (while making sure I brought it in for a test before driving it too long and causing the check-egine light to come back). If passed! If I had learned about your experience, I would not have lost so much time and money (bringing the car back to Midas many times and paid extra money). But thank you so much for sharing this very helpful information.

    Wow... just wow... My car is a 2003 Toyota Corolla, but reading your story really made me think you were driving the same car I was/am. I've been having problems with the Cat for years, and have had quite a bit of work done in order to pass inspection. Still though, that blasted light refuses to stay dead for long, and it's always the same, lousy "P0240" trouble code. Mine was also apparently manufactured to the California emissions standards, and so on and so forth.

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and knowledge here.

    What is the drive cycle for a 2003 Pontiac Bonneville?? I can't find it and I don't have one of the gadgets to check

    I have the same exact problem too. I heard from my mechanic that unless we use a OEM Cat from the Dealer, the dreaded P0420 keeps coming back. No matter how many after market Cats tried upon.

    These O2 Sensors are so tricky that they are almost fool proof.

    However, I have also seen people trying the O2 Spacers (Like a 1-2 inch steel tube for the O2 sensor, that spaces out the sensor from the Cat's air flow). This tricks the vehicle's ECM to think that the CAT is still working under normal effeciency.

    I have also read people using the "DIODE TRICK" where a diode is connected in series to O2 sensors signal cable to drop the signal voltage., again making the ECU think that the CAT is normal.

    Personally for me the Diode trick did not work. As the ECU throws a new Error code (and CEL) for Resistance Too High on the sensor.

    Hey Nate I have the same car. The problem is in fact your Catalytic converter. I have been going through the same process Hear in Texas for the last four years. Five cats later. I finally bought one from Eastern converters online. It was made especially for the impala. So far it works, but the tranny blew so I have not driven the care in a while.

    1 reply

    Thanks for the feedback David. Its good to know I'm not the only one! My dad is convinced its a manufacturing problem with the catalytic converters. He was so curious he actually sawed the thing in half and inspected the honey comb filter inside the cat. It was pretty obvious that some of the material inside the cat wasn't in the correct place, and hence impeding the air flow. Let me know know if the Eastern converts cat works out after you put some miles on it. Maybe I'll pick one up. Thanks again.