Motor Vehicle Emissions Variability

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Document Type


Organizational Units

Chemistry and Biochemistry


Atmospheric chemistry, Emissions, Pollutants


Test-to-test variability has been observed by many current testing methods, including the Federal Test Procedure, the IM240 dynamometer test, the idle test common to many Inspection and Maintenance programs, and on-road remote sensing. The variability is attributable to the vehicle, not to the testing procedure. Because the vehicles are the dominant source of variability, the only way such vehicles can be reliably identified is through the use of multiple tests. The emissions variability increases with increasing average emissions, and it appears to be prevalent among the few newer technology vehicles with defective, but untampered, closed-loop emissions control systems (1981 and newer models). In one fleet the variable emitters constitute 2.2% to 4.8% of the vehicles and contribute 8.5% to 22% of the total carbon monoxide emissions. Scheduled I/M programs that fail to ensure repair of these vehicles allow a significant portion of vehicles with excess emissions to escape reduction measures.

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Copyright held by the Air & Waste Management Association.

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