It doesn’t matter whether you’re a mechanic or a car enthusiast. You need to have a basic knowledge of repairs and emissions testing, also generally called drive cycle. Doing a car diagnostic test yourself is one way to gain this insight.
Typically, there are over eleven scan checks of emission control components you can perform on your vehicle. These include fuel systems, transmission, engines, and other types of emission controls.
Each diagnostic check works with a device known as a readiness monitor. The checks are performed usually when you’re driving. However, this test can also occur when the car isn’t in motion.
In this article, I provide a detailed guide to the drive cycle. I also explain ways to perform a basic drive cycle. Plus, I walk you through how to determine the readiness of a drive cycle.
What is the Drive Cycle?
A drive cycle is a combo of a wide range of driving methods. Conducting a drive cycle on a vehicle means you want to confirm if the right diagnosis and repairs have been carried out. Technicians often carry out this exercise under the ‘’Powertrain Control Module’’ (PCM). Besides, a drive cycle helps you or your mechanic know how effective recent repairs were made. It tells you if any of your car components need repairs, replacement, or rechecks.
Drive cycles come in different designs and practices, depending on the manufacturer. If handled by an experienced technician, a drive cycle can be reset in as little as twenty miles or 15 minutes.
By contrast, it takes a regular driver with a 75-100 mile highway drive to complete the cycle. Nonetheless, you can also carry out a drive cycle even if your car drives within the city.
In case you need to carry out a drive cycle when your car is stationary, you can adopt the On Board Diagnostic (OBD) system. The OBD works like a computer monitoring system. The method involves a series of tests to determine if an emission control device is faulty. Once all OBD checks have been concluded, the computer will signal the system as “ready”.
Conversely, a failed OBD scan forces the computer to indicate that system is “not ready” or “incomplete”. A failed diagnosis means that data has been erased during repairs or the batteries were disconnected.
Therefore, you will need to remedy the incomplete process resulting from an unplugged battery or deleted data. To do this, you’ll need to drive for at least 75 to 100 miles without kickstarting your battery.
How to Perform A Basic Drive Cycle in 3 Ways
Here are the three methods you can use to carry out a basic drive cycle.
1. Finish Repairs and Clear All OBD Error Codes
As soon as you complete all emissions-related services, you will then need to clear all OBD error codes, using the OBD Scanner. Most inexperienced mechanics either are not aware of or forget this step. Nevertheless, it’s important to complete this stage before starting the main drive cycle test.
2. Preparing the Car
Next, you need to prepare the car for a thorough drive cycle test. There are some things that you need to complete so that the drive cycle test can be effective.
One critical step is to ensure that your fuel tank is between 30 percent and 70 percent full.
Also, make sure your battery and alternator are in perfect condition.
Else, it can be a death sentence, literally speaking, and so negatively impact the result of the drive cycle test. The third precaution I need you to take is to allow your car to park for more than 8 hours.
The reason for this is simple. The first step of any drive cycle is usually a cold start. So, to ensure that the test starts, the engine temperature should be at the same level as the temperature outside.
3. Begin the Road Test
Drive cycle road test normally takes place on the highway and at two road driving sessions.
The first phase involves a short city driving test where you’ll slowly accelerate to about twenty-five miles per hour. The second phase involves a short highway test. In the second session, you are expected to accelerate slowly to the approved speed level from your manufacturer. Maintain a steady speed of more than 5 miles. Testing on the highway requires that you always slow down.
In fact, most manufacturers recommend that you remove your foot from the accelerator. But you shouldn’t apply brake until you reduce the speed to about 20 mph. Once you’re at this mph, you can apply the brake.
How to Determine Drive Cycle Readiness
For a vehicle to be certified sound, it has to first go through readiness checks. The E-check readily comes to mind here. To determine if a car is ready for E-check, you need to first turn on the ignition key for about 15 seconds. Then switch on the engine.
However, if the service engine indicator winks about 8 times, it simply means that the car is not ready for checks. But if the service engine indicator stays on ‘solid’, it means that the car is ready for checks. This procedure applies to all cars, regardless of their models.
Performing a drive cycle test is very important in effectively sustaining your vehicle. Having a good understanding of your car’s health condition will help you to ensure it works smoothly. Consequently, you can reinforce performance and expand its lifetime. As I explained in this guide, one of the ways to achieve this is by using advanced electronic gadgets.
With an OBD scanner, you can do your diagnostic in the comfort of your home. Ultimately, do not forget to follow your manufacturer’s guide in the area of performing the drive cycle. This would help give you a better result. For more OBD and drive cycle information, you can check your car’s owner’s manual. IN addition, you can contact your car agent or browse the internet.