Emissions control systems have been used in vehicles since the mid 60’s, actually 1966 was the first year when manufacturers switched to engines with emissions control components. Systems have become more advanced, self-adjusting and computerized, however they still function to help reduce the amount of harmful hydrocarbons that are produced by the individual engine during the combustion of fuel.
There are three different types of emissions measurements used within modern vehicles. Each one provides the car, or more specifically the computer chip in the car, with the information needed to make the adjustments in the fuel to air ratio to provide a cleaner combustion with fewer hydrocarbons. In addition the various types of emissions can be tested during vehicle inspections and are routine in some areas of the United States, Europe, Canada and the United Kingdom. They include the tailpipe emissions, life cycle emissions and evaporative fuel emissions.
The emissions control system within the vehicle needs to be repaired whenever a vehicle fails to pass the legal standards within the area it is licensed.
All vehicles sold as new vehicles since 1976 have come with a catalytic converter, which is actually an addition to the exhaust system that provides additional oxidation of the hydrocarbons, reducing the total amount of emissions. The catalytic converter is an essential part of any emissions control system in a vehicle, converting the harmful hydrocarbons to water and carbon dioxide before they even get to the muffler. There are also a series of valves within the vehicle that adjust with the emissions measurements to make the vehicle’s engine burn cleaner, producing less harmful emissions.
The three different types of emissions are measured in different ways. The tailpipe emission measurement can be used at any time to actually test how the catalytic converter and other emissions control systems in the vehicle are working. It literally tests the exhaust from the tailpipe for unburned fuel and emissions. The life-cycle emissions are calculated over the live of the vehicle and include the emissions in maintaining, manufacturing and disposing of the vehicle. This type of emission measurement is an estimate based on the age of the vehicle.
The evaporative fuel emissions measurement is a test of how well the closed gas tank system within the car handles the evaporation of the gas due to weather changes. If the system is inefficient not only does the vehicle loose gas but it also releasing heavy molecular gases and other hazardous emissions.
By having your vehicle routinely maintained and tested it is possible to both help your gas mileage as well as decrease the amount of dangerous materials released into the environment by your vehicle.