Low Pressure Fuel Evaporative Testing at Smog Check Stations


Low pressure fuel evaporative emissions were added to the list of inspected items at Smog Check stations everywhere in California at the end of 2007. The purpose of the LPFET (Low Pressure Fuel Evaporative Test) is to closely inspect vehicles from model years 1976 through 1995 that do not have the On-Board Diagnostics II system. If a vehicle fails the LPFET at the time of the Smog Check, it will have to be repaired, but fortunately for the consumer, the repairs do result in gas savings. Fixing the problem also removes the safety hazard of fuel leaks.

There are millions of cars still on the road in California that fit into the model year category of 1976-1995. Certain cars in this group are exempt from the LPFET, however. For example, if a vehicle was not originally equipped with a fuel evaporation control system, it cannot be checked. Automobiles outfitted with two functioning gas tanks or that are powered by an alternative gas like LPG or CNG do not need to have the LPFET portion of the Smog Check. And if the tech simply cannot access the fuel evaporative canister, the tech will not have to complete this procedure. Your invoice will document why the LPFET was not done.

The average cost to the consumer for an LPFE repair is $161, and up to 18 percent of tested vehicles fail the LPFET. A typical repair involves replacing tubing and hoses, but other possible necessary repairs include repairing the gas tank, replacing seals, or fixing the fuel filler neck. Most of the costs to fix LPFE problems go toward labor rather than actual parts.

Why Was This Test Added?

California has to meet certain clean air requirements, and the LPFET portion of the Smog Check can help diagnose needed repairs that will result in the removal of 14 tons per day of harmful emissions. The smog problem is a continuous predicament for California, and officials are constantly searching for ways to reduce smog by cost-effective means.

When there is pressure loss in the evaporative control system, reactive organic gases or fuel are emitted, creating higher ozone levels. But when the motorist has their fuel evaporation issue fixed, no more gasoline escapes and the motorist uses less fuel. The State estimates that at $2.77 for one gallon of gas, these repairs alone will save California motorists $4.5 million in fuel costs every year, making the LPFET a very worthwhile test.

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