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Old 12-24-2015, 01:45 PM   #1
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Smog test problem

Just wondering whether anyone else had this problem. This story would be funny if it weren't true.
In September of 2014, I purchased my 2015 Coachmen Prism, built on a 2014 MB Sprinter 3500, in Oregon, drove to CA where I live. On the trip, I noticed a "restraint system" warning light. Since the seat belts were working, I ignored it until I got home.
At my local MB dealer, I had the restraint problem fixed under warranty, no problem. Since I was there anyway, I asked them to smog test it for me, in order to register it in CA. I was surprised when he came back to tell me that the computer "wouldn't allow itself" to be smog tested. He explained that whenever a warning light goes on, the vehicle has to go through a "drive cycle" in order to reset some sensors. He suggested to just "drive it for a while". How long? He didn't really know.
So, I drove it for about 200 miles, then brought it back. Same result. I drove it some more. Same result. In desperation, I used it to commute to work (can you imagine using a MH as a commute vehicle?) Same result.
Now, I was getting worried. We had a trip planned, and no plates or registration. As a "favor", he sent me over to Joe Bob's smog shop. Joe Bob turned it on, stuck his face in the exhaust, and said "you pass". I was then able to register it.
Fast forward to September 2015. I had 15,000 miles on the odometer, and needed service. The VW scandal had just come to light, which got me thinking about the smog test. Where I live in CA, I am exempt from periodic smog testing. However, if I ever wanted to sell it, or moved, I would have to get it smogged. I thought just to be safe, I should have him test it to be sure it could be smogged. Surely after 15,000 miles, I must have gone through a "drive cycle".
Unfortunately, during a recent trip, I noticed my perimeter and licence plate lights weren't working, and therefore another warning light came on. It's a long story, but I finally got it fixed under warranty, and the light went off. I took it from the place that fixed the lights directly to MB for the service and the smog test. You probably already guessed that the computer wouldn't allow itself to be smogged.
At this point, I decided to be more proactive. On the internet, I found several links to this problem, not necessarily only involving MB. Several had references to various "drive cycles" (all different, and very complicated, like having to drift down without using the brakes to a stop). I chose the least ridiculous one, and with my wife timing and reading directions, did it.
It worked!
For more info, check out:
Stuck In California’s Smog Check Hell | WorkingReporter – Ron Olsen on the web
For an evil giggle, read the responses after the article.
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Old 12-24-2015, 02:16 PM   #2
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but pay the fees on time

In California....

Be sure to pay your license renewal fee by the due date, even if you haven't been able to pass the smog test.

This will prevent any past due fees and penalties; they just won't issue the sticker

Then when you get the smog test sorted out, send in the paperwork and they will issue the sticker.

Shout out to my buddies at Wayne's Automotive in Carlsbad for that tip!!!

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Old 12-24-2015, 02:21 PM   #3
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I'm not sure if your sprinter has a Cummins or Mercedes diesel. But if it is a Cummins they just released an updated ecm calibration that turns on the specific monitors that California requires. Older diesels were not setup for these monitors and updates were made so that they would be able to have the monitors. Other than the update, I'm not sure of anything else.
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Old 12-24-2015, 02:45 PM   #4
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Mine is a Mercedes.
It would be nice if they would publish something about this issue.
I have to admit there is something humorous about driving around in a low mileage MH unnecessarily, spewing smog, in order to pass a test that is meant to reduce smog! Leave it to California (although I understand this is happening in other states now).
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Old 12-24-2015, 03:04 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clutchd View Post
I'm not sure if your sprinter has a Cummins or Mercedes diesel. But if it is a Cummins they just released an updated ecm calibration that turns on the specific monitors that California requires. Older diesels were not setup for these monitors and updates were made so that they would be able to have the monitors. Other than the update, I'm not sure of anything else.
Sprinter is made by MB. I believe cummins is in an exclusive agreement with Dodge to supply their diesels to their product line.

This thread reminds me i'm thankful I don't live in a smog zone. Too much gov't IMO.
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Old 12-25-2015, 02:24 PM   #6
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In San Diego we have to get our Mercedes sprinter smogged every 2 years , all the gasoline powered vehicles don't need smog for 6 years
Got charged 85 bucks too.


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Old 12-25-2015, 03:02 PM   #7
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i thought tests were bad in Il, im glad im not in Ca,doesnt the car mfg have a warranty on the emission system ?
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Old 12-25-2015, 03:32 PM   #8
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i thought tests were bad in Il, im glad im not in Ca,doesnt the car mfg have a warranty on the emission system ?
Good question!
Before I finally passed the smog test, I had a meeting with the MB Sprinter service manager. He tried to tell me it was California's fault. I told him I didn't care who's fault it was. My position was that I bought a brand new vehicle, which was warrantied to work, and now it wasn't working as expected. Furthermore, I told him that if it didn't allow itself to be smogged the next time, I was going to put in a warranty claim for whatever it took to make it work, including a new computer if necessary. With a look of (I believe) feigned innocence, he told me that he "would certainly support me" in that claim with MB. I took that to mean "it's time for my lunch". Luckily, it never came to that.
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