Now that my scooter is rounding out its third year of ownership, I get a postcard in the mail that says I need to get a smog test for it. I take it to the Yamaha Service Plaza store I normally get the oil changed at.

I ride in, show them my little smog test summons card, and he motions for me to pull in. He takes a stand and a pipe and hooks up the sensor to my exhaust pipe, and then runs some software on the nearby computer, explaining that these test results are stored immediately using government (standard) software, and then uploaded to the DMV databases later on. I'm impressed at how efficient they've made it!

He looks at the stats for my scooter -- not that old, in pretty good condition, despite my accidents and thrashing it around -- and starts it up, running the diagnostic software. The numbers start going up in each of the three categories: CO, HC, and CO2. Neat.

But he freaks out.

"Whoa, why is it so high?? This is twice the limit!"

He starts rapping frantically at the "Cancel" button, preventing the test from completing and uploading to the government database.

Then he hooks up the sensor to a different computer -- the shop's private machine, not connected to the official one -- and starts tweaking some settings in the engine with a screwdriver, playing around with two different dials until the CO and HC pollution was way, way below the legal limits.

Once he was happy with the results, he hooks it back up to the government system and runs it.
"Oh, I hope it's not too low [that it's not believable]. You can't ride it like this, because it will stall on you all the time."

Well, wouldn't you know it, the scooter passes now with flying colours!

A printout taps out of the printer, my paper evidence in case the government wants to see it.

He hooks the scooter back to the private machine, tweaks all the settings back to the original levels (slightly optimizing while he's at it), and sends me back on my way.
"There you go. Now you may continue polluting the air."

(Yeah, he actually said that, but in a good-humoured manner.)

Clearly, this is not his first time, nor is it beyond his own moral limits. I'll probably have the scooter actually looked at during my next oil change, since it does bother me that my scooter isn't running as smoothly as it should.


Fumbling said...

wtf!? That is totally dishonest and illegal of them and the guy sounds like he was so nonchalant about it. What's the point of regulations to keep the air clean if people so openly cheat them?

Ben said...

Well, did you think almost the exact same thing didn't happen in BC with the AirCare program ( There are lots of mechanics that will tweak your engine to fit within AirCare regulations, so you can drive it to get tested, and then come back to get it re-optimized for best driving.

But those types of people in the Vancouver area are now becoming obsolete, since the official AirCare procedures are cutting out that middleman! Now, for all cars since 1998, they just use the on-board diagnostics to do it: essentially, they're supposed to connect your machine up to a computer that will chat with it about any emissions problems it's been having, but I've heard that sometimes the most they do is just check to see if the dashboard "check engine" light is on. Off you go, thanks for the $21, and see you next year!

Glad to see the government is starting to act more like the (shady) private sector. And at least the Taiwanese inspection is free.

In either case (Taiwan or Canada), I don't see any marked improvement in air quality or the removal of those black-smoke puffers off the road.