Category Archives: Blog

Preparing for your emissions test. Emission Time- By Megan Evans.

Get to Know Your Friend the Air Filter

Air Filter

Your car’s air filter may seem innocuous, but it’s actually important for many reasons. The air filter plays a key role in the efficient operation of your vehicle, so it’s important to keep it clean. A dirty air filter can cause a variety of problems and even result in a mechanical breakdown. Once you understand how the filter works and where it’s located, you’ll always be able to tell if it’s dirty and even handle the replacement yourself if you prefer.

What Your Air Filter Does

Situated somewhere at the top of your engine compartment is a square-shaped air cleaner assembly. If you remove the top of the cleaner assembly, you will see that the filter sits right inside. Below the filter is a long plastic hose. Air is pulled in through the filter, down the tube and into the engine where it mixes with fuel. In very simple terms, if your car is idling, at a stop light for example, little air is necessary. The more you accelerate, however, the more air is needed to run the engine. The important thing to remember is that every bit of air that’s pulled in must pass through the air filter before reaching the engine.

Why a Clean Air Filter is Important

Your engine runs on a tightly controlled mixture of fuel and air. In fact, for every gallon of gas, your car needs as much as 10,000 gallons of air. A dirty filter restricts the flow of air, depriving your engine and causing it to run poorly. The result can be poor gas mileage, reduced acceleration, poor engine performance and excess emissions. It can even reduce the life of your engine components. For all the critical services they provide, air filters are actually quite cost-effective. You will save by money by changing them every three to six months. In fact, many drivers replace them with every oil change.

How to Know if Your Air Filter is Dirty

The dirt and debris that contribute to clogging up a filter accumulate over time. Living or driving in an area where there’s lots of dust, such as near a construction zone, can cause it to become dirty more quickly, as can doing a lot of driving. Under normal conditions, most cars require a filter change every 15,000 miles, but experts advise checking its condition after 10,000, especially under heavy use. You may notice that your car’s acceleration capabilities have decreased or that your gas mileage is dropping. The easiest way to tell if your filter needs changing is to open the air cleaner and visually inspect it. New, the paper folds are a light color, free from dirt or debris. With use, the light color will darken and you may notice an accumulation of dirt within the folds.

In the Sandy and Salt Lake City areas, Emission Time is committed to keeping your vehicle running smoothly at all times. The experienced technicians can help you with regular maintenance as well as safety inspections and DMV registration renewals. Drop by and talk to them about changing your car’s air filter.

Is a Cracked Windshield Dangerous?

Cracked Windshield

Lots of people drive around with a cracked windshield, which you may have heard is dangerous. So is it? In Utah, you’ll have to replace it before you can pass your next scheduled safety inspection anyway, but you should not wait that long for several reasons. In fact, safety experts recommend having it repaired or replaced immediately, and not to drive the vehicle at all if the crack disrupts your view.

The Risks of a Broken Windshield

It is certainly a hassle to have a broken windshield, but the problems stretch further than your inconvenience. Motor vehicles have windshields to ensure the safety of both driver and passengers, not just to protect them from wind and airborne objects, but also to provide a significant level of structural support for the passenger cabin in the case of a rollover. A tiny rock chip that you repair promptly probably doesn’t pose too much of a threat, but more damage than that, and the original factory seal on the windshield becomes compromised and, along with it, the structural integrity of the glass.

Should You Repair or Replace Your Windshield?

The answers on this vary, depending on whom you ask. The repair people naturally advise you to have the chip repaired. Most experts advise having minor rock chips repaired immediately, before they have a chance to spread. But if the chip blocks your line of sight or if it’s located near any edge, replacement is probably the safer option. Although some shops claim to successfully repair extensive cracks, the reliability of the glass is compromised and your safety is at risk.

Until You Can Replace Your Windshield, Do This.

If the crack disrupts your vision while driving, experts warn that you shouldn’t drive your car. The same thing applies if the crack is longer than 12 inches or if the star is larger in diameter than about an inch. Besides the safety risk, you can also get a traffic ticket for driving with a cracked windshield. It’s also important to keep dirt out of the crack or chip. Place some clear packing tape over it, but only if it isn’t disruptive to your vision.

Keep the windshield out of the sun as well, as ultraviolet light can discolor the cracked area, but more important, heating up the already-weakened glass can cause it to shatter, especially if you crank up the AC or defroster while the windshield is hot. Finally, don’t get your car washed until the replacement is complete.

Emission Time in Sandy and Salt Lake City offers windshield repair along with DMV inspections and renewal stickers on the spot. Call or stop by for a price quote today, before your cracked windshield gets you into hot water.

Spring Road Trip Tips

Spring Road Trip

Warmer weather means a road trip for many families in northern Utah. Spring break provides a perfect opportunity to pack up and head out, alone or with family and friends. Whether you’re visiting relatives or hitting the trails for some hiking, preparation is the key to enjoying your trek. Read on for some helpful hints for packing, planning and preparing your vehicle for the perfect trip.

Packing for Spring Travel

After a long, cold winter, your family is likely ready to enjoy the warmer weather. Because spring has barely begun, however, expect some cool evenings or even a little rain. Pack the shorts and sunscreen, but take along sweatshirts or light jackets too. Layering is the perfect strategy for transitioning between warm afternoons and the cold breeze that can pick up when the sun goes down. Make sure everyone has a light backpack in which they can stow extra layers until they’re needed. And of course, be sure to take a first-aid kit, a paper map of the area (in case cell service isn’t available), water and energy bars. Being prepared can mean the difference between an adventure and a potential emergency if you become lost or stranded.

How Much Planning is Too Much?

Sometimes the best trips are those that let you explore an unknown road. Even if your goal is to follow your whims on your spring road trip, establish some basic parameters that you can share with a family member or trusted friend at home. There’s no need to plan every detail of your days, but develop a broad itinerary that tracks your trip and location from day to day. If, along the way, you discover a delightful location that you want to explore further, give your contact at home a call to update your plans. A little forethought and a quick text will give everyone peace of mind. Take along a small notepad (keep it in your car’s glove box for easy access) and jot down information about those places you would like to visit in the future. There’s always next spring!

Prepare Your Vehicle for the Trek

Winter weather is notoriously harsh on your car, especially if it’s a few years older. The transition from cold to warm can affect tire pressure, coolant and even windshield wipers. Spend a little time checking your tires for proper inflation and unexpected wear. Don’t forget to inspect the spare and the jack; you don’t want to be stuck with a flat tire and no spare or working jack. Have your oil changed, and don’t forget the air filter while you’re at it. Check windshield wipers and replace them if necessary. Check your battery’s charge as well as hoses and belts. Finally, make sure your headlights, taillights, turn signals and emergency lights are all working correctly.

Before you head out for your adventure, swing by Emission Time in either Sandy or Salt Lake City for a quick oil change and inspection. Their professional technicians will make sure your vehicle is roadworthy and ready to safely take you on your spring road trip.

The Facts about Engine Oil Additives


Oil Additive

Aftermarket oil additives and treatments have been the subject of great controversy for many years. Despite manufacturers’ claims that these products can work miracles for your car, many experts believe the hype is largely unfounded. Most additives claim to extend the life of your car’s engine and improve fuel mileage, but unfortunately, scientific research has been of little help in either substantiating or debunking these claims. Ultimately, the decision to use an additive or not should depend on several factors, including the age and condition of your car.

Oil Treatment Claims and Promises

All-purpose aftermarket additives and treatments are advertised to help reduce engine wear, lower engine operating temperature, extend oil life and improve fuel economy. Others are designed specifically to reduce oil leaks and corrosion, reduce emissions output or stop engine smoking. Over the years, governmental lawsuits and media exposés have helped to reduce some of the false claims. Nevertheless, many oil treatment manufacturers continue to extol the alleged virtues of their products without impartial research to support their claims. Fortunately, some important facts have finally begun to emerge.

What the Research Shows

Research recently conducted by Penn State University and published in Science magazine finally provides some answers to the age-old debate regarding the efficacy of oil treatments. The researchers discovered what was already suspected, that the additive ZDDP (zinc dialkyldithiophosphate) does indeed reduce engine wear. Unfortunately, it also increases friction and can degrade the life of catalytic converters. Additionally, it does not work for engines made of any material other than steel. A similar study demonstrated the benefit of tiny carbon spheres (100-500 nanometers in diameter). These nanospheres, when added to engine oil, reduced wear and increased fuel economy by 10 to 25 percent without affecting the viscosity of the motor oil. Unfortunately, the technology is not developed sufficiently for nanolubricants to be commercially available yet.

Should You Use an Oil Additive in Your Vehicle?

Most commercially available motor oils contain additives of some type. Aftermarket additives, despite their marketing claims, have not been scientifically proven to provide any real benefit. Consumers Digest, after analyzing the available data, agrees that nanolubricant additives may provide significant benefits when or if these products make it to the commercial marketplace. Teflon additives were similarly touted in the 1980s, but ultimately were not practical to produce.

For now, you will receive the best results by using the type of oil that meets or exceeds the manufacturer’s specification for your engine, regardless of the brand, and by strictly maintaining your oil and filter change schedule. If your vehicle has high mileage or oil leaks, you may derive benefits from aftermarket oil additives targeted for your specific issue; however, those generally should not be used if you use a synthetic oil in your car.

Keep up with your oil changes with the assistance of Emission Time. With convenient locations in Sandy and Salt Lake City, they provide expert service in a friendly, comfortable environment. Ask your service technician for more information about oil additives and their potential benefits for your car.

Registering Off-Road Vehicles in Utah

Offroad Vehicle Registration

Off-road vehicles are popular in northern Utah, thanks to the many recreational opportunities this beautiful area offers. Each state establishes its own governing laws and requirements for the use and licensing of recreational motor vehicles, including the definition of what constitutes an off-road or off-highway vehicle. Utah’s requirements are fairly straightforward, but understanding the related rules and requirements will keep you safe and legal while you enjoy the great outdoors.

What is Considered an Off-Road Vehicle?

Utah’s classification of off-road vehicles is OHV (off-highway vehicle) and the registration process is only slightly different than that for standard passenger cars and motorcycles. OHVs include snowmobiles, type I and type II all-terrain vehicles, sand rails, utility terrain vehicles, motorbikes and farming or agricultural equipment. OHV permitting applies to any motorized or motor-assisted vehicle that does not meet the Utah traffic code for operation on a street or highway. Off-road vehicles that meet the standards for street use may be registered using the normal procedure, which requires that the operator have a driver’s license even if the vehicle will not be used on the streets or highways.

Licensing and Registration Requirements of Off-Road Vehicles

Off-road or off-highway vehicle registrations are valid for one year. The specific procedure varies based on the vehicle’s type, but follows the same basic procedure required for standard motor vehicles. You must have a driver’s license to register an OHV, as well as proof of ownership (title) and proof of insurance. You are not required in most cases to have a safety inspection or emissions certificate if the vehicle will only be operated off-road. Anyone between the ages of 8 and 15 may operate an OHV under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian. For those over the age of 15, a driver’s license or an approved OHV education certificate is required. You must display your registration sticker on the specified area of your OHV at all times.

Related Utah Off-Road Vehicle Rules

Several other Utah DMV rules related to OHVs are not technically related to registration, but they do govern the safe and legal operation of OHVs. Riders under the age of 18 are required to wear protective headgear or helmets. You are only allowed to operate OHVs on private property with the property owner’s express permission. And of course you must always obey all federal, state and municipal laws and regulations. If you are an out-of-state resident visiting Utah with your OHV, you must apply for a non-resident temporary permit. You’ll need proof of residency from your state and proof that your vehicle is owned by an out-of-state resident. The non-resident permit application is available online on the DMV’s website.

For your on-road vehicle registration renewal needs, Emission Time in Sandy and Salt Lake City provides emissions and safety inspections as well as on-the-spot registration renewal. They also offer a variety of automotive maintenance and repair services. Their quick, professional service will have you in and out in no time, leaving you more time to enjoy your off-road vehicle.

What Does the “Check Engine” Light Mean?

Check Engine Light

When your “Check Engine” light comes on, you know the feeling you get. It’s that stomach-churning dread of, “Now what?” followed immediately by, “How much is this going to cost?” The technical term for the check engine light is the malfunction indicator lamp, or MIL. When your MIL comes on, there’s a good chance that it doesn’t indicate anything serious. Under the better-safe-than-sorry philosophy, however, it’s important to rule out any major malfunctions right away.

What the “Idiot Lights” Usually Mean

Rather than having 10 different gauges providing data essentially meaningless to car owners, modern cars use warning light icons to indicate a problem. Although you don’t often see them, you likely have lights that warn you of an oil problem, engine overheating and low tire pressure. Experts agree that none of the warning lights should be ignored, but on the grand scale of when to worry, the oil and temperature lights are the first priority, followed closely by the MIL and tire pressure. Always check your owner’s manual for what each of the warning lights means for your vehicle.

What the MIL Might Indicate

For most vehicles, the MIL may indicate a dozen or more situations. On the more benign end of the scale, it may mean that you didn’t put your gas cap back on properly the last time you fueled up, or you didn’t tighten it all the way. For some vehicles, the MIL lights up when you’re past due for a tuneup or periodic dealer milestone service. On the other end of the spectrum, however, it can mean that you have a problem with your alternator, catalytic converter, oxygen sensor or even that your transmission is about to fail. You may also have low fluid levels, a broken belt or an emission problem.

What to Do When the Engine Light Comes On

Auto mechanics all across the country report a similar phenomenon. When the check engine light comes on, most drivers are more interested in having it turned off than they are in finding out what’s wrong. Ignoring the problem or checking online to find the sequence to deactivate the light are generally a bad idea. Instead, take just a few minutes out of your life and drive by your auto mechanic’s shop. With today’s technology, they can probably plug a cable into your car’s on-board diagnostics port and have an answer in about a minute. This way, you’ll know if you’re safe to keep driving for a while or whether doing so might do serious damage to your vehicle.

In Sandy and Salt Lake City, Emission Time provides a variety of car maintenance and repair services as well as on-the-spot vehicle registration renewals and emissions testing. Stop by and talk with their friendly and experienced service technicians the next time your check engine light or other warning indicator signal comes on.

What is a Catalytic Converter?

Catalytic Converter

You probably realize your car has a catalytic converter, but beyond that, you may not understand how this amazing little device works. The technology was designed by a French mechanical engineer in the 1950s and first introduced to the public in the 1970s. It wasn’t until American emission control standards began to tighten up in the early 1980s that they became standard issue on vehicles sold in the United States.

What It Does

A critical component of your car’s emission control system, the catalytic converter transforms harmful compounds exhausted through the engine’s combustion process into harmless gases. Shaped a bit like a muffler itself, it is typically located in the undercarriage of the vehicle near the front seats. It connects the engine with the muffler and, in a brilliant but simple feat of engineering, converts dangerous emissions as they pass through en route to the tailpipe. Early models restricted exhaust flow, which was terrible for gas mileage and performance and even posed some danger of causing a fire underneath the car. Today’s versions have overcome these problems, and special high-flow versions are available for high-performance cars.

How It Works

If you’ve heard that a catalytic converter is worth its weight in gold, that’s not far off. The center core is composed of ceramic pathways that are coated with precious metals in a honeycomb configuration. Rhodium, platinum and palladium are the primary catalysts, although iron, magnesium, nickel and cerium are also used. As the exhaust passes through, the catalysts reduce and oxygenate it, transforming it almost instantaneously into its inert final form and sending it on to the muffler.

What It Filters

Originally, auto manufacturers outfitted vehicles that ran on leaded gasoline with catalytic equipment. Some components in leaded fuel were prone to clogging it, however, destroying its functions and requiring replacement. This led, at least in part, to the widespread adoption of unleaded gas in the United States. The converter works on three main exhaust compounds. The first one, hydrocarbons, are contained in unburned gasoline put forth in vehicle exhaust. The next compound, carbon monoxide, is produced as the result of the combustion process. The final compound filtered is nitrogen oxides, created by the engine’s high level of generated heat, which is the product responsible for acid rain. The process turns highly poisonous carbon monoxide to harmless carbon dioxide, and hydrocarbons into carbon dioxide and water. Nitrogen oxides are converted into their base components of nitrogen and oxygen.

Emission Time in Sandy and Salt Lake understands how important your entire emissions system is, not only for the continued operation of your vehicle, but also for controlling pollution. Offering on-the-spot vehicle registration renewals, they are the locally owned and operated experts that can also help keep your car running right, catalytic converter and all.

Why is Your Car Smoking?

Smoking Car

A smoking car never indicates a good thing, but how bad it is may depend on the underlying cause. Not only are you at risk of being left stranded on the side of the road, a smoking car may develop more serious damage if you delay visiting your mechanic. Even if the smoke isn’t indicative of a problem, you’re spewing pollutants into the air and you’ll never pass Department of Environmental Quality testing. Here are some tips for diagnosing your car’s bad smoking habit.

Smoking from the Tailpipe

If smoke is coming from your car’s tailpipe, it may be difficult to determine whether what you’re seeing is actually smoke or another type of exhaust problem. In any case, other than on cold mornings, exhaust should be invisible. If the smoke coming out is whitish in color, that may indicate water in the exhaust line and a problem in the cooling system. Blue smoke indicates burning oil, while gray or black smoke may indicate an overly rich fuel mixture, a clogged air filter, a cracked core shaft, problems in the emissions system or a dozen other possible issues.

Smoking from the Engine Compartment

If smoke starts to billow out from under your hood, your immediate attention has been requested. If you’re driving, pull safely out of traffic and stop until you can identify the source of the problem, to avoid a potential fire. Smoke or steam coming from the engine compartment could mean anything from a coolant leak to bad valves. It may also be an electrical malfunction, the smoke resulting from burning wires. A bad thermostat can allow your vehicle to overheat and smoke, as can a bad water pump.

What to Do if Your Car is Smoking

Whenever you notice smoke, steam or anything unusual coming from your car, a visit to your mechanic is in order. He or she will run a series of diagnostic tests on your engine’s compression, cooling and transmission systems. With a little luck, the resolution may be as simple as changing your air filter, topping off fluids or replacing a leaky hose. If the issue is more serious, especially if you continued to drive your car after you noticed the smoke, you may have to replace engine valves, cylinders or piston rings. In extreme cases, a new or rebuilt engine may be the best option.

In the Sandy and Salt Lake areas, Emission Time provides a wide variety of car repair services as well as DEQ testing and on-the-spot vehicle registration renewals. Their convenient locations and fast service make Emission Time the perfect place to visit if you see smoke coming from your car.

Extend the Life of Your Brake Pads

Brake Pads

If you want your brake pads to last longer, you’re in luck. Brakes wear out and require replacement based almost entirely on which type you choose and how you use them. Some drivers burn through pads in 15,000 miles, while others, especially if they select good replacements, can make their brakes last up to 90,000 miles. Optimal results require regular system maintenance and good driving habits. Read on for some valuable advice for choosing the right replacement components and making them last. Remember, when it comes to your car’s brake system, your safety behind the wheel always comes first!

How Often Should You Replace Brake Pads?

The true answer to this questions is, it depends. Your car’s manufacturer will recommend a specific interval for replacement, but that number is based on the average of a large sample population. The original manufacturer’s brake pads are more expensive to purchase, but they almost always wear out more slowly. Pad life will also vary based on composition. You may be confused when your mechanic asks what type of pads you want installed. Options include semi-metallic, ceramic, non-asbestos organic and low-metallic non-asbestos organic pads. The differences can be confusing, and the right choice for you depends on your driving patterns. Your mechanic can recommend the right type based on your needs, but beware of the low-cost “bargain” options. You’ll be back for a replacement set before you know it.

Driving Habits to Extend Brake Pad Life

Speed is the mortal enemy of your car’s braking system. Braking from 65 mph is almost twice as hard on the system as is stopping from a speed of 55 mph. Riding the brakes and last-minute or emergency braking is truly brutal. Focus on making long, gradual stops with decreasing speed. Keeping your brake fluid full and fresh is also important, which means having the system flushed periodically. Finally, have your brakes inspected regularly. Many reputable shops will provide a free inspection. When you’re advised to service or to replace the pads, don’t procrastinate. You can cause further damage to other critical system components.

When it’s Time for New Brakes

Emission Time, serving Salt Lake City and Sandy, Utah, will be happy to inspect your brake system for you. Also offering oil change and repair services, Emission Time provides on-the-spot vehicle registration renewal and emissions testing. Ask their friendly and experienced technicians to help you stay safe on the road and extend the life of your brake pads.

How to Get Utah Personalized Plates

Utah Vanity Plate

Utah personalized plates are a great way to promote your business, support your favorite sports team or show your school solidarity. Utah offers two types of regular plates for personalization along with dozens of special interest plates for passenger vehicles and motorcycles. The process for application is straightforward. As long as you abide by the rules for what messages can and can’t be used, your creativity is the only limitation you’ll face.

Standard Utah Personalized License Plates

The two standard style choices reflect Utah’s tourism slogan, “Life Elevated.” One features a skier in action with the phrase, “Greatest Snow on Earth.” The other portrays Delicate Arch in vivid colors. Cost for personalized plates is currently $58 plus an additional $10 each year upon renewal. To apply, use the TC-817 form, found on the Utah DMV website. You can mail the form in with a check or apply online at the MVP vehicle portal. This same procedure is also used for requesting special interest or disability plates.

Special Interest License Plates

In addition to the standard selections, almost 50 types of specialty group license plates are available. Most can be personalized or selected with a standard license number. Military veteran licenses are available for all branches of the armed forces, as well as for Purple Heart recipients, disabled veterans, Pearl Harbor survivors and former prisoners of war. Thirteen collegiate choices are available, representing various Utah colleges and universities. Utah Housing Opportunity plates are available for Realtors, and the Amateur Radio Operator choice is perfect for ham operators. You can support cancer research, autism awareness, children’s issues, public education, search and rescue, humanitarian service and clean air. The cost for special interest licenses varies depending on the cause.

What You Can’t Have on Your Utah Vanity Plates

Like most states, Utah checks all personalized license plate applications for prohibited references. Your message can’t be vulgar or obscene and it can’t refer to any illicit substances or criminal acts. It also cannot portray any type of contempt or ridicule of gender, race, religion, ethnic heritage or political beliefs. Finally, plates cannot make reference to general welfare threats or public harm. Standard vanity plates limit characters to seven, with a maximum of four characters for motorcycle plates and five for special interests. Your personalization can’t be the same combination of characters as any other plate currently issued or in use.

In Sandy and Salt Lake City, Emission Time provides vehicle emissions testing and on-the-spot vehicle registration renewal, in addition to a full range of automotive repair services including oil changes and brake service. If you’re stuck for ideas for your Utah personalized plates, how about “CLEAN O2?”