Should you allow the EPA to use your car for emission testing?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Dec 01, 1988

Dear Tom and Ray,
I own a 1985 Mazda RX7 with 7,000 miles on it. I recently got letters from EG&G Automotive Research and the EPA asking me to let EG&G use my car for emission testing for two weeks. They claim it will be "tested under normal driving conditions on a dynamometer." Should I let them do this? What will they be doing? Will they hurt my car?

RAY: The EPA is required to examine a variety of cars each year to ensure that the emissions equipment operates properly under "real world" conditions. EG&G is subcontracted by the EPA to test the cars.

TOM: We called EG&G in San Antonio, and they told us that the cars are, in fact, tested on a dynamometer, which is a machine that simulates normal driving conditions by using rollers under the car's wheels. The running time on the dynamometer is about an hour and a half, and the cars never leave the test site. Will they hurt your car? Probably not, they sounded like nice boys to us.

RAY: Whether you give anyone your car for two weeks is up to you, but there are several advantages to consider. Before EG&G tests your car, they tune it up completely and repair any basic engine problems. That way, they get accurate test results--and you get a free tune up. They offer a monetary incentive, and provide you with a new rental car during testing. So, if nothing else, perhaps you can get rid of this boring RX7 for two weeks and drive something snazzy like a Ford Festiva or Yugo.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One