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Help! Failed Smog Test - California

1799 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Andrew
Today, I took my 78 spider to the local shop for a smog test, and failed in the pre test. The idle test was good, but at 2500 RPM, the hydrocarbons were too high. The mechanic does not want to play "ping pong" with me, playing around with adjustments to the spica to try to make it pass. He suggested that I take the car to an Alfa specialist who does smog. The engine was rebuilt 3
years ago and passed smog at that time; I hope that it is just a matter of adjustment. Does anyone have recommendations for an Alfa shop, where they do smog in the Bakersfield area, or possibly in the East San Fernando Valley?
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Santo's Alfa Service in Van Nuys is an easy drive for you over the hill. That is where I would go.
Boles' comment seems good. Do you know anything about the catalyst? Was the car good and hot when the test was done? Do you have the Spica adjustment guide available on Wes Ingram's site? But having Santos do the deed seems like a good option.

Help! Failed Smog Test -- California

Santo's Alfa Service in Van Nuys is an easy drive for you over the hill. That is where I would go.
While I'm not very good at the time required or what over the hill for you is as far as getting to Santo's from where you're located, imo, if Santo's can't get the car to pass, there are very few others who could without messing up the systems or balance required, so the drive in time, gas, and expense will be well worth your while.

They've been in business a long time, it's a generational business, they have a steady and returning clientèle, and are recognized in Alfa circles both for their work and maintenance of street Alfas as well as their participation in racing.
Heh! I just went through this in Arizona (80 Spider with 75 Alfetta Spica). What were your numbers (exact CO and HC - and CO2/NO if listed)?
I ended up with 200 HC and 1.1 CO after a bit of fiddiling with the timing/mixture.

Dave G.
I have a question to ask you about your smog test...was the test done in Tehachapi or down in Bakersfield? If it was done in Tehachapi, then the mixture should be leaned out a tad because it isn't getting enough air due to the altitude, hence it will run rich.
Based upon your unanimous recommendations, I made an appointment at Santos. The test was done in the Tehachapi area, at an elevation of about 4500 ft; 350 ppm of HC @ 2500rpm I passed smog two years ago at the same facility. I think the cat is good; it looked good a few weeks ago when I had a new muffler installed (magnaflow). I set the timing a few days ago. The car was warm, but not hot before the test. Due to time constraints - registration about to expire, I'll let the pros play with the spica. Maybe I"ll learn something at the shop. Incidentally, I have Wes Ingram's guide, and Pat Braden's books, which have been helpful in past alfa adventures.
High HC generally indicates misfiring/unburned stuff; this can be due to poor plugs, poor compression, or a mixture that's so lean it's right on the edge of misfiring, though that is more often the case at idle than higher rpm.

Get the car fully totally hot and do the test immediately; even 10 minutes sitting can change the HC significantly. I just passed an 89 Spider; I got it good and hot and had a pretest done, which passed fine. 10 minutes later on the official test the HC had gone up 25 percent, still within the limits but getting close enough to make me nervous.

Is the car getting to its intended temp, like 180-190? Is the thermostat good?

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