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Old 10-24-2005, 10:52 PM   #1 (permalink)
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USA 2001 "Drive Cycle" following OBDII reset?

I have a 2001 Camry LE, 4 cyl. 5S-FE engine with 37k+ miles. About 2+ mo ago, we got a CEL. Dealer got a P0401 code and recommended changing the EGR, Modulator, and VSV for about $600. Had them wait, as it was running fine, no flat spots on acceleration or hesitation or stalls. Relicensing & inspection due this mo. so back to dealer- same CEL & code. Ended up buying the parts and doing the job myself, still cost $300, plus the 1/4" extension to reach the VSV from the passenger side wheel well (what a poor choice of places to put what I now realize doesn't need to be hidden there. I read a post that explained how to remount it in a more accessible spot). Did the negative battery terminal removal/replacement thing like my mechanic told me, started it up and Whoopee!, no CEL. The car sat the rest of the night, and this morning I drove to the state Emissions testing site and got Rejected! due to Catalyst and Evaporative System readings of NOT READY.
Drove to the dealer for advice, the mechanic said they normally just drive it for a while up to 40-50 MPH with a couple of stops, and turn it off and on a couple of times. So I drove around for about and hour on local roads and on the highway with several shutdown/start sequences included, as well as numerous stop lights, changes of speed, etc. Back to the state guys. Reject, same reasons. Back to the dealer. The mechanic did an OBDII check for me and let me watch the results, and everything was OK. The only thing we could figure out was that in one of the modes he checked, the catalyst and evaporative system showed "No Reading". Again, the advice to just drive it for a while. The booklet the state guys gave me mentioned something about

"To set the monitors to 'Ready', the vihicle must complete its appropriate DRIVE CYCLE (my emphasis). Drive cycles are unique and specific to each automoble manufacturer."

The dealer could not help with the "Drive Cycle" information. Anyone out there know where I can find out, or how long this will take?
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Old 10-24-2005, 11:17 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I feel your pain, when I first picked up my car from the stealership, they took it in for inspection and it took a good 3 hrs of driving before the car was ready to take the emissions test. For each car it IS DIFFERENT. You've got to drive the car for MILES at least 20-30 before the car will register as ready.
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Old 10-25-2005, 01:20 AM   #3 (permalink)
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USA "Drive Cycle" for OBDII update

Hi. I've been doing some googling. What I've found out is that if you do a repair to fix a CEL or MIL code and reset the OBDII by removing power from the system (i.e. taking the negative terminal off the battery for a few seconds), you will indeed reset the OBDII. But the "Drive Cycle" required to gather baseline information for the system can only be completed by driving the car under a very specific set of conditions. If you don't have to do an emissions inspection for about a week or more, chances are you will be OK, as long as any conditions that might give a DTC are OK. But if you need an inspection right away, good luck. I have been unable to find out the "Drive Cycle" for the 2001 Camry 5SFE engine. If I understand correctly, the "Drive Cycle" is specific to individual manufacturers/models/engines, so what might work for my 4-cyl, may not work for a 6-cyl Camry! These are supposed to be in the repair manuals.
The mechanics are either uninformed, or hiding the absolute necessity of the "Drive Cycle". It was my mechanic that told me to use the battery unhook method to reset the OBDII. It was another mechanic in the same shop, who told me he couldn't understand why I was being rejected if my CEL was still off after as much driving as I had done since the repair(about an hour); he also put the tester on and showed me that no codes were showing. Their main suggestion and what they said they did for my problem, was to just drive the car around for a while. The key to this must be the "Not Ready" codes for the catalytic and evaporative systems that showed @ the dealer and the emissions test center.


Here are some quotes and a link that I think are informative:


http://vehicletest.state.ma.us/fact_...iness11-04.doc



An important part of an OBD repair technician's toolbox is the comprehensive drive cycle manual; the only source is published by Motor Manuals. The latest 1996 to 2004 edition contains a little more than 900 individually different drive cycles for the wide range of engines now in use.


The most critical issue surrounding a drive cycle is that preconditioning MUST be in place before the monitors will run. The drive cycle procedure can be found in the service manual or in separate
publications like Alldata, Motor and Mitchell. Since readiness monitors require specific speed and load conditions in order to run the monitor accurately, drive cycles work best with smooth flat roads and steady throttle / brake changes. Constantly changing loads and throttle inputs may prevent the monitors from running to completion.



OBDII Readiness
A vehicle's OBDII computer monitors engine, transmission, fuel system, and emissions control performance. Up to eleven "readiness monitors" or software routines continuously or periodically check these major systems and components under specific operating conditions. If enough monitors have not completed their checks by the time an inspection station connects to a vehicle's OBDII system for an emissions test, the vehicle is "not ready" and will not pass its inspection.
Certain common repairs or maintenance procedures can temporarily interrupt power from a vehicle's battery to its OBDII computer, leaving monitors "not ready" for an emissions test because the power loss has cleared all diagnostic results from the computer's memory. After power is restored, the computer needs to monitor various driving conditions long enough to run the required number of checks again, determine whether emissions-related systems or components are performing correctly, and store this information to be "ready" for a state emissions test.
Until the computer is "ready" for OBDII emissions testing, the vehicle will fail its initial inspection or be turned away from a re-test. There may in fact be nothing wrong with the vehicle; the computer simply needs to complete its checks. One week of combined highway and city driving is normally enough to reset the system and provide an accurate reading of vehicle performance.




http://www.findarticles.com/p/articl...5/ai_n14868801




Hope this helps with what I found to be very confusing. Does anyone know if the "Drive Cycle" is listed in the '01 Camry 5S-FE manual? Or know where I can get a copy of the procedure?

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Old 10-25-2005, 01:34 AM   #4 (permalink)
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If you search this site look for a Thread I started. I asked the same question and someone linked me to a very good website with a helpful drive cycle explanation.
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Old 10-25-2005, 12:39 PM   #5 (permalink)
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USA "Drive Cycle" for OBDII reset- update

Gridlyne, thanks for the info. Here is the link, from your previous thread, to the article you referred to:

This site from Texas does a good job of explaining it.
http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/vi/publ.../OBD_guide.pdf

Here are a couple of quotes from that article that relate to the problems you and Reppinshadyvill and I have had (my emphasis in red):


Readiness Status
OBDII systems must indicate whether or not the onboard diagnostic system has monitored eachcomponent. Components that have been diagnosed are termed “ready”, meaning they were tested by the OBDII system. The purpose of recording readiness status is to allow inspectors to determine if the vehicle’s OBDII system has tested all the components and/or systems. The powertrain control module (PCM) sets a monitor to “ready” after an appropriate drive cycle has been performed within one key-on, engine-run, key-off cycle. The drive cycle that enables a monitor and sets readiness codes to “ready” varies for each individual monitor. Once a monitor has been set to “ready”, it will continue to indicate “ready” unless the vehicle’s battery is disconnected or codes are cleared, with a few exceptions. After a vehicle is repaired (and DTCs are cleared) or if the battery or PCM has been disconnected, the Readiness Status for each noncontinuous
diagnostic monitor will be “Not Ready”.
THIS MEANS THAT THE VEHICLE
MUST BE OPERATED THROUGH A COMPLETE DRIVE CYCLE BEFORE IT CAN BE
REINSPECTED.

Normally, the readiness status of all components or systems will be “ready”. However, if the vehicle’s battery has been recently disconnected, or if DTCs have been recently cleared with a scan tool, all non-continuous components or systems will be set to “not ready”. Also, if the driving habits of the vehicle owner or environmental conditions are such that an appropriate drive cycle has not been completed, that monitor will not be ready. As an example, the catalytic
converter will generally only be monitored when the vehicle is fully warm, at highway speed, and under light load. A vehicle that never sees these conditions will never be ready, since the cat monitor will never run.


According to what the testing guy told me, after being questioned about it, is that it is set up this way to prevent someone from disconnecting the battery just before driving in for a test, just so they can get rid of any DTC's that show up. Unfortunately, those of us who try to do our own repairs can get caught in the net also, and at this time, there is no easy way of finding out about "Drive Cycles". Hell, I never even knew that there was a "Drive Cycle", before this all started. I'm just a slow driving Dad with kids, trying to save a little cash. Whine, cheese anyone?

I called the dealer and they are going to look in the 2001 Camry 5sfe service manual and see if they can find a procedure for the "Drive Cycle". If anyone out there knows another way to find out how to get these for DIY'ers without spending a lot of bucks, it would be great info to have.

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Old 06-08-2010, 02:50 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chasbo2000 View Post
Hi. I've been doing some googling. What I've found out is that if you do a repair to fix a CEL or MIL code and reset the OBDII by removing power from the system (i.e. taking the negative terminal off the battery for a few seconds), you will indeed reset the OBDII. But the "Drive Cycle" required to gather baseline information for the system can only be completed by driving the car under a very specific set of conditions. If you don't have to do an emissions inspection for about a week or more, chances are you will be OK, as long as any conditions that might give a DTC are OK. But if you need an inspection right away, good luck. I have been unable to find out the "Drive Cycle" for the 2001 Camry 5SFE engine. If I understand correctly, the "Drive Cycle" is specific to individual manufacturers/models/engines, so what might work for my 4-cyl, may not work for a 6-cyl Camry! These are supposed to be in the repair manuals.
The mechanics are either uninformed, or hiding the absolute necessity of the "Drive Cycle". It was my mechanic that told me to use the battery unhook method to reset the OBDII. It was another mechanic in the same shop, who told me he couldn't understand why I was being rejected if my CEL was still off after as much driving as I had done since the repair(about an hour); he also put the tester on and showed me that no codes were showing. Their main suggestion and what they said they did for my problem, was to just drive the car around for a while. The key to this must be the "Not Ready" codes for the catalytic and evaporative systems that showed @ the dealer and the emissions test center.


Here are some quotes and a link that I think are informative:


http://vehicletest.state.ma.us/fact_...iness11-04.doc



An important part of an OBD repair technician's toolbox is the comprehensive drive cycle manual; the only source is published by Motor Manuals. The latest 1996 to 2004 edition contains a little more than 900 individually different drive cycles for the wide range of engines now in use.


The most critical issue surrounding a drive cycle is that preconditioning MUST be in place before the monitors will run. The drive cycle procedure can be found in the service manual or in separate
publications like Alldata, Motor and Mitchell. Since readiness monitors require specific speed and load conditions in order to run the monitor accurately, drive cycles work best with smooth flat roads and steady throttle / brake changes. Constantly changing loads and throttle inputs may prevent the monitors from running to completion.



OBDII Readiness
A vehicle's OBDII computer monitors engine, transmission, fuel system, and emissions control performance. Up to eleven "readiness monitors" or software routines continuously or periodically check these major systems and components under specific operating conditions. If enough monitors have not completed their checks by the time an inspection station connects to a vehicle's OBDII system for an emissions test, the vehicle is "not ready" and will not pass its inspection.
Certain common repairs or maintenance procedures can temporarily interrupt power from a vehicle's battery to its OBDII computer, leaving monitors "not ready" for an emissions test because the power loss has cleared all diagnostic results from the computer's memory. After power is restored, the computer needs to monitor various driving conditions long enough to run the required number of checks again, determine whether emissions-related systems or components are performing correctly, and store this information to be "ready" for a state emissions test.
Until the computer is "ready" for OBDII emissions testing, the vehicle will fail its initial inspection or be turned away from a re-test. There may in fact be nothing wrong with the vehicle; the computer simply needs to complete its checks. One week of combined highway and city driving is normally enough to reset the system and provide an accurate reading of vehicle performance.

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articl...5/ai_n14868801




Hope this helps with what I found to be very confusing. Does anyone know if the "Drive Cycle" is listed in the '01 Camry 5S-FE manual? Or know where I can get a copy of the procedure?
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Old 06-08-2010, 02:55 PM   #7 (permalink)
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all ECU internal tests (like O2 sensors, EGR, catalyst monitoring, etc.) get completed in a few miles and few engine restarts from last ECU reset ... all except for EVAP which may take up to 1 week (this is when ECU marks it "completed/OK".

my advice, don't touch battery terminals nor reset the ECU again, drive the car normally for 1 week full and then go to get the car re-inspected.
sometimes EVAP gets completed as soon as 2-3 days, but based on my own experience it sometimes need more time (up to a week).

the dealer will tell you that ECU needs 400 miles or 1 week to re-calibrate and marks all tests passed, it's bullshit. if you have obd2 scanner (or laptop+soft+cable) you can see those tests by yourself, once you see they all checked out which may happen even after 3 days and 100 miles you are good to go for inspection.
there is NO specific driving cycle to get them completed instantly, however I agree that some driving styles makes them complete faster and some other will keep them pending for longer (all up to ECU)
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Old 06-08-2010, 03:01 PM   #8 (permalink)
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also what is most important with your "Rejected" sticker - you CAN drive it legally. you should have like 45 days (check you local inspection laws) from rejection date to "fix" the car and get failed things re-checked.
after that date passes, you have to do a complete re-inspection of everything once over (takes more time at inspection station).

EDIT:
dang! i have just realized this thread is like 5 years old!
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Old 06-08-2010, 05:47 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Good info and not re-creating the wheel. . . .

I'll add to it so you're not alone.


Using AutoTap software my 95 1MZ always shows incomplete on "Catalyst Monitoring Status(NO UNITS)" Is that true for the rest of you with this year?

All other "monitoring functions" show complete except Fuel System Status (last item).

Catalyst Monitoring Status(NO UNITS) {complete or incomplete} throughout these. . .
Comprehensive Component Monitoring Status(NO UNITS)
EGR System Monitoring Status(NO UNITS)
Fuel System Monitoring Status(NO UNITS)
Misfire Monitoring Status(NO UNITS)
O2 Sensor Heater Monitoring Status(NO UNITS)
O2 Sensor Monitoring Status(NO UNITS)

Fuel System Status Bank 1(NO UNITS) = OL-1, OL-2, CL-1
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Last edited by 73sport; 06-08-2010 at 05:53 PM. Reason: complete or incomplete
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Old 06-08-2010, 06:07 PM   #10 (permalink)
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incomplete status on Catalyst Monitoring may point to a catalytic converter trouble (of course it might be lots of things I assume that can cause it to fail completion). I do not know what this test consists of, so hard to tell what it means. Diagnostics manual on trouble codes related to Cat converter may tell you more on driving pattern used for checking it, probably this is what ECU wants to complete (or maybe something else as you have no trouble codes, correct?)

incomplete status on fuel system check may indicate some fuel pressure trouble detected. OL would be open loop and CL would be closed loop. not sure what following numbers mean (cylinders?).

With Digimoto V on my end (gen4.5 5S-FE) it looks like this:


note all supported tests completed very quickly (i believe it was a few hours of local driving from reset), except for mentioned above EVAP.

note that there are 2 categories of internal tests, most critical ones (misfire, fuel system and comprehensive) are continuous tests that always take place when car is running.
i do not know what triggers non-continuous tests, all i know is that ECU will try completing all of them asap after reset.

and now some interesting info for PC laptop users.
you can get the OBD2-USB cable (ELM327 clone) for your laptop/netbook running Windows off ebay, usually cheapest ones can be found in Hong Kong (i bought this one at $23 shipped), then you install a FTDI chipset driver (comes with cable) on your laptop and download this FREE and simple OBD2 code scanner, it's called wOBD:
http://www.obd2crazy.com/software.html

it will allow you to see all error codes (and reset them if needed) and see the completion status of ECU internal testing, so you know if you are good to go for emissions test or not before you waste your time on doing so

I hope this thread helps. it has close to 5,000 views! so it means people has been searching for this info extensively.

more info on OBD2 tools in this thread:
CEL Light On. OBDII Scanner or Laptop
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Old 06-08-2010, 07:02 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chasbo2000 View Post
"To set the monitors to 'Ready', the vihicle must complete its appropriate DRIVE CYCLE (my emphasis). Drive cycles are unique and specific to each automoble manufacturer."

The dealer could not help with the "Drive Cycle" information. Anyone out there know where I can find out, or how long this will take?
I've got one of those books with all the drive cycles in it, and here's the one for your car.....




Now here's the deal with passing the smog test. If you disconnect the battery all the codes and what are called "Monitors" will be reset. These Monitors are some hocus pocus crap that the EPA came up with. Different cars have different drive cycles to reset the Monitors. The book I have has 900 pages of the different drive cycles.

Cars up to the model year 2000, can have 2 monitors not set and still pass smog. After 2001 they are only allowed one to not be set. Different cars have different monitors that may or may not be needed. For example, here's a screen shot of the monitors for my 2000 1MZ-FE:



Notice that some monitors are not supported, they will never be set. So it doesn't matter. Only the ones that are supported need be set. I think your 2001 is pretty similar from a Monitor standpoint. Maybe there are some more that are supported, I just don't know. In any event you will need a scan tool of some sort to see if the monitors have been set after going through the above drive cycle. If you don't have a scan tool, get one. The 70 bucks that you spend for an Actron Scanner at Autozone will pay for itself in no time.

Hope this helps.

Edit: I think I need to clarify the System Status (Mode $01) above. Notice that Heated Catalyst, Secondary Air System, A/C System Refrigerant, and EGR system are "Not Supported" What this means is that even though these monitors are present, none of these monitors will have any influence on the Smog test results.

Of the ones that are left, on my 2000 1MZ-FE, I can have any two of the "Supported" monitors not set and still pass smog. Later years 2001 and later can only have 1 of the "Supported" monitors not ready to pass smog. So if you have a scan tool, you can clear everything, or just remove the battery cable, start the drive test with the scan tool plugged into the DLC port, and then drive to the Smog Check station. Check the monitors, see which ones are set. Drive some more, and when you get to two monitors that are not set (from my 2000) head on into the Smog Check, and you will pass. Or if you have a 2001 or later, you will have to wait for just one not to be ready. A little sneeky Ram-A-Lam, but it works, and you will pass the smog test. Then you can worry about fixing the problem at your leisure.

And don't feel shy about taking advantage of this little know exclusion. It's the EPA rules, and it's about time more people know about them. If the Smog Check dweeb or the service tech at your local Toyota dealer gives you any grief about it, tell them to check the EPA regulations.

The official document is here: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/regs/im/obd/r01015.pdf You can search the document for the phrase "Readiness Status: Initial Test" or go to the bottom of page 10.

The information on readiness monitors is at the bottom of page 11 and the first paragraph of page 12.

Here's what it says:
Therefore, as discussed under “Basis for Failure or Rejection” above, EPA has revised the readiness requirement so as to allow states to complete the testing process on MY (EPA speak for Model Year) 1996-2000 vehicles with two or fewer unset readiness codes; for MY 2001 and newer vehicles, the testing process can still be completed provided there is no more than one unset readiness code. This does not mean that these vehicles are exempt from the OBD-I/M check16. The complete MIL check and scan must be run in all cases, and the vehicle still must be failed if any of the failure criteria discussed in this guidance are met. The vehicle should continue to be rejected if it is MY 1996-2000 and has three or more unset, non-continuous readiness codes or is MY 2001 or newer and has two or more unset, non-continuous readiness codes.

Bip...Bam....Pow....take that Smog Man.

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Old 06-08-2010, 08:06 PM   #12 (permalink)
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4th Generation nice!

thanks ajkalian!

i was looking for that "monitors completion drive cycle magic" for a long time

2000-2001 camry models (i4 vs v6 respectively) are same gen4.5 so they share same exact components respectively. ECU part numbers may still differ due software revision (based on factory production date), applied recalls, emissions model (federal vs california), having or not having the engine immobilizer, etc. however still same drive cycle magic *should* apply to all of them

above info you posted also applies to '00-'01 Solara gen1.5 (including mine!)

not sure why your book states it also applies to 2002 as that would be early gen5 camry ... perhaps they re-used old ECU's on programming them?
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Old 06-08-2010, 08:11 PM   #13 (permalink)
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i vote for a sticky
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Old 07-08-2010, 02:45 PM   #14 (permalink)
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From AUTOTAP Software Site:
http://www.autotap.com/techlibrary/o...ns_testing.asp



OBDII and Emissions Testing

Download PDF
Are you up to speed on OBDII? You should be because starting in 2002, a number of states have announced plans to change their emissions testing programs over to OBDII.

Instead of doing a tailpipe emissions check on a dynamometer, an OBDII check is a simple plug-in test that takes only seconds. What's more, OBDII will detect emissions problems that might not cause a vehicle to fail a tailpipe test - which means emissions test failures under the OBDII test programs are expected to be significantly higher.

The second-generation self-diagnostic emissions software has been required on all new vehicles sold in this country since model year 1996, including all imports. OBDII is a powerful diagnostic tool that can give you insight into what's actually happening within the engine control system.
Early OBDII systems first began to appear on a few 1994 models, including the Lexus ES300, Toyota Camry 1MZ-FE 3.0L V6 and T100 pickup 3RZ-FE 2.7L four, plus a number of Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and Volvo models. In 1995, more models were added including the Nissan Maxima and 240SX. Some of these early systems are not fully OBDII compliant, meaning they may not set codes or turn on the Check Engine light for misfires, catalytic converter problems or fuel vapor leaks.
Unlike earlier OBD systems that set a DTC when a sensor circuit shorts, opens or reads out of range, OBDII is primarily emissions-driven and will set codes anytime a vehicle's emissions exceed the federal limit by 1.5 times. It also will set codes if there is a gross sensor failure, but some types of sensor problems won't always trigger a code. Consequently, the Check Engine light on an OBDII-equipped vehicle may come on when there is no apparent driveability problem, or it may not come on even though a vehicle is experiencing a noticeable driveability problem.

The determining factor as to whether or not the Check Engine light comes on is usually the problem's effect on emissions. In many instances, emissions can be held in check, despite a faulty sensor, by adjusting fuel trim. So as long as emissions can be kept below the limit, the OBDII system may have no reason to turn on the light.
Check Engine Light

The "Malfunction Indicator Lamp" (MIL), which may be labeled "Check Engine" or "Service Engine Soon" or a symbol of an engine with the word "Check" in the middle, is supposed to alert the driver when a problem occurs.
Depending on how the system is configured and the nature of the problem, the lamp may come on and go off, remain on continuously or flash - all of which can be very confusing to the motorist because he has no way of knowing what the light means. Is it a serious problem or not? If the engine seems to be running okay, the motorist may simply ignore the light. With OBDII, the Check Engine light will come on only for emissions-related failures. A separate warning light must be used for other non-emissions problems such as low oil pressure, charging system problems, etc.

If the light is on because of a misfire or a fuel delivery problem, and the problem does not recur after three drive cycles (under the same driving conditions), the Check Engine light may go out. Though you might think the vehicle has somehow healed itself, the intermittent problem may still be there waiting to trigger the light once again when conditions are right. Whether the light goes out or remains on, a code will be set and remain in the computer's memory to help you diagnose the fault.

With some exceptions, the OBDII warning lamp will also go out if a problem does not recur after 40 drive cycles. A drive cycle means starting a cold engine and driving it long enough to reach operating temperature. The diagnostic codes that are required by law on all OBDII systems are "generic" in the sense that all vehicle manufacturers use the same common code list and the same 16-pin diagnostic connector. Thus, a P0302 misfire code on a Nissan means the same thing on a Honda, Toyota or Mercedes-Benz. But each vehicle manufacturer also has the freedom to add their own "enhanced" codes to provide even more detailed information about various faults.
Enhanced codes also cover non-emission related failures that occur outside the engine control system. These include ABS codes, HVAC codes, air bag codes and other body and electrical codes.

The second character in an OBDII will be a zero if it's a generic code, or a "1" if it's a dealer enhanced code (specific to that particular vehicle application).
The third character in the code identifies the system where the fault occurred. Numbers 1 and 2 are for fuel or air metering problems, 3 is for ignition problems or engine misfire, 4 is for auxiliary emission controls, 5 relates to idle speed control problems, 6 is for computer or output circuit faults, and 7 and 8 relate to transmission problems.
Codes can be accessed and cleared using an OBDII scan tool such as AutoTap.
Misfire Detection

If an emissions problem is being caused by engine misfire, the OBDII light will flash as the misfire is occurring. But the light will not come on the first time a misfire problem is detected. It will come on only if the misfire continues during a second drive cycle and will set a P0300 series code.
A P0300 code would indicate a random misfire (probably due to a vacuum leak, open EGR valve, etc.). If the last digit is a number other than zero, it corresponds to the cylinder number that is misfiring. A P0302 code, for example, would tell you cylinder number two is misfiring. Causes here would be anything that might affect only a single cylinder such as a fouled spark plug, a bad coil in a coil-on-plug ignition system or distributorless ignition system with individual coils, a clogged or dead fuel injector, a leaky valve or head gasket.
The OBDII system detects a misfire on most vehicles by monitoring variations in the speed of the crankshaft through the crankshaft position sensor. A single misfire will cause a subtle change in the speed of the crank. OBDII tracks each and every misfire, counting them up and averaging them over time to determine if the rate of misfire is abnormal and high enough to cause the vehicle to exceed the federal emissions limit. If this happens on two consecutive trips, the Check Engine light will come on and flash to alert the driver when the misfire problem is occurring.
Misfire detection is a continuous monitor, meaning it is active any time the engine is running. So too is the fuel system monitor that detects problems in fuel delivery and the air/fuel mixture, and something called the "comprehensive monitor" that looks for gross faults in the sensors and engine control systems. These monitors are always ready and do not require any special operating conditions.
Other OBDII monitors are only active during certain times. These are the "non-continuous" monitors and include the catalytic converter efficiency monitor, the evaporative system monitor that detects fuel vapor leaks in the fuel system, the EGR system monitors, the secondary air system monitor (if the vehicle has such a system), and the oxygen sensor monitors. On some 2000 and newer vehicles, OBDII also has a thermostat monitor to keep an eye on the operation of this key component. The thermostat monitor will be required on all vehicles by 2002. On some 2002 model-year vehicles, there also is a new PCV system monitor, which will be required on all vehicles by 2004.

The catalytic converter monitor keeps an eye on converter efficiency by comparing the outputs from the upstream and downstream oxygen sensors. If the converter is doing its job, there should be little unburned oxygen left in the exhaust as it exits the converter. This should cause the downstream O2 sensor to flatline at a relatively fixed voltage level near maximum output.
If the downstream O2 sensor reading is fluctuating from high to low like the front sensor, it means the converter is not functioning. The Check Engine light will come on if the difference in O2 sensor readings indicates hydrocarbon (HC) readings have increased to a level that is 1.5 times the federal limit. For 1996 and newer vehicles that meet federal Low Emission Vehicles (LEV) requirements, the limit allows only 0.225 grams per mile (gpm) of HC - which is almost nothing. Converter efficiency drops from 99 percent when it is new to around 96 percent after a few thousand miles. After that, any further drop in efficiency may be enough to turn on the Check Engine light. We're talking about a very sensitive diagnostic monitor.

The EVAP system monitor checks for fuel vapor leaks by performing either a pressure or vacuum test on the fuel system. For 1996 through 1999 vehicles, the federal standard allows leaks up to the equivalent of a hole .040 inches in diameter in a fuel vapor hose or filler cap. For 2000 and newer vehicles, the leakage rate has been reduced to the equivalent of a .020 in. diameter hole, which is almost invisible to the naked eye but can be detected by the OBDII system. Finding these kinds of leaks can be very challenging.
Readiness Flags

An essential part of the OBDII system are the "readiness flags" that indicate when a particular monitor is active and has taken a look at the system it is supposed to keep watch over. The misfire detection, fuel system and continuous system monitors are active and ready all the time, but the non-continuous monitors require a certain series of operating conditions before they will set - and you can't do a complete OBDII test unless all of the monitors are ready.

To set the converter monitor, for example, the vehicle may have to be driven a certain distance at a variety of different speeds. The requirements for the various monitors can vary considerably from one vehicle manufacturer to another, so there is no "universal" drive cycle that will guarantee all the monitors will be set and ready.

As a general rule, doing some stop-and-go driving around town at speeds up to about 30 mph followed by five to seven minutes of 55 mph plus highway speed driving will usually set most or all of the monitors (the converter and EVAP system readiness monitors are the hardest ones to set). So if you're checking the OBDII system and find a particular monitor is not ready, it may be necessary to test drive the vehicle to set all the monitors.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) realized this shortcoming in current generation OBDII systems. So, when it created the rules for states that want to implement OBDII testing in place of tailpipe dyno testing, it allows up to two readiness flags to not be set prior to taking an OBDII test on 1996 to 2000 vehicles, and one readiness flag not to be set on 2001 and newer vehicles. You can use the AutoTap OBDII scantool to check that your readiness flags are set before having your vehicle emissions-tested. This can save you the aggrevation of being sent off to drive around and come back later.

Some import vehicles have known readiness issues. Many 1996-'98 Mitsubishi vehicles will have monitors that read "not ready" because setting the monitors requires very specific drive cycles (which can be found in their service information). Even so, these vehicles can be scanned for codes and the MIL light without regard to readiness status. On 1996 Subarus, turning the key off will clear all the readiness flags. The same thing happens on 1996 Volvo 850 Turbos. This means the vehicle has to be driven to reset all the readiness flags. On 1997 Toyota Tercel and Paseo models, the readiness flag for the EVAP monitor will never set, and no dealer fix is yet available. Other vehicles that often have a "not ready" condition for the EVAP and catalytic converter monitors include 1996-'98 Volvos, 1996-'98 Saabs, and 1996-'97 Nissan 2.0L 200SX models.
OBDII Test

An official OBDII emissions test consists of three parts:
  1. An inspector checks to see if the MIL light comes on when the key is turned on. If the light does not come on, the vehicle fails the bulb check.
  2. A scanner similar to AutoTap is plugged into the diagnostic link connector (DLC), and the system is checked for monitor readiness. If more than the allowed number of monitors are not ready, the vehicle is rejected and asked to come back later after it has been driven sufficiently to set the readiness flags. The scanner also checks the status of the MIL light (is it on or off?), and downloads any fault codes that may be present. If the MIL light is on and there are any OBD II codes present, the vehicle fails the test and must be repaired. The vehicle also fails if the DLC is missing, has been tampered with or fails to provide any data.
  3. As a final system check, the scanner is used to command the MIL lamp on to verify it is taking commands from the onboard computer. If the OBD II light is on, or a vehicle has failed an OBDII emissions test, your first job is to verify the problem. That means plugging into the OBDII system, pulling out any stored codes and looking at any system data that might help you nail down what's causing the problem. Long-term fuel trim data can provide some useful insight into what's going on with the fuel mixture. If long-term fuel trim is at maximum, or you see a big difference in the numbers for the right and left banks of a V6 or V8 engine, it would tell you the engine control system is trying to compensate for a fuel mixture problem (possibly an air leak, dirty injectors, leaky EGR valve, etc.).
OBDII also provides "snap shot" or "freeze frame" data, which can help you identify and diagnose intermittent problems. When a fault occurs, OBDII logs a code and records all related sensor values at that moment for later analysis.

Once you've pinpointed the problem and hopefully replaced the faulty component, the final step is to verify that the repair solved the problem and that the OBDII light remains off. This will usually require a short test drive to reset all the readiness monitors and run the OBDII diagnostic checks.
OBDII Tools & Equipment

You can't work on OBDII systems without some type of OBDII-compliant scanner. The AutoTap OBDII Scan Tool is available in both PC/laptop versions and Palm PDA versions. The computing power and display of a PC or Palm gives AutoTap a much broader range of features than the older style hand-held scantools.
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Old 08-03-2010, 11:23 AM   #15 (permalink)
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i vote for a sticky
i second this....i've been searching for a while for some of this data. very good thread
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