Failed Emissions Test

Nov 05, 2021


How many emissions tests would it take to get my license plate stickers renewed? I took a number of tests that day-- would you have passed?

In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency is at the “forefront of developing clean automotive technology and designing programs to reduce and prevent air pollution.”1 Since I drive a car that is not at the forefront of preventing air pollution, I submit my vehicle to an emissions test every two years. Which is just long enough for the whole experience to seem completely unfamiliar. None the less, once through the maze of online links, posted signs, and traffic cones, I stand next to a vending machine selling candy as old as my car while my vehicle is driven onto a dynamometer (or car treadmill).

The I/M 240 Test simulates a “four-minute driving cycle under a variety of conditions (uphill, downhill, acceleration and more) to evaluate emissions.”2 My car bucks a little at the beginning of each simulation and I contemplate the safety of revving an engine while aimed at a brick wall! Nervous drivers watch through smudged glass panes as if rooting for a kid at little league; each hoping for a good performance.

Walker's Exhaust Gases 101 defines the terrible trio of automotive pollutants as carbon monoxide (triggering health problems), unburned hydrocarbons (causing crop damage), and oxides of nitrogen (promoting visible smog).3

As you evaluate your performance as a leader. Be sure to check the:

  1. Emissions: My car’s exhaust was evaluated for the unseen and undesirable byproducts of my gasoline engine. What undesirable byproducts are you emitting? A poisonous attitude or negative impact?
  2. Treadmill: My car was working hard; the odometer rolled, the fuel burned-- yet the view out the windows never changed. What are you pressing toward but never seem to approach?
  3. Brick Wall: Someone sat in my car aimed directly at a solid, red brick wall with the peddle to the metal. What obstacles are you speeding toward? What safety measures are in place?

Following the emissions test, I eagerly inquire about the status, but results are rendered only after I pay for the test. Twenty-five dollars later, I discover my vehicle has indeed FAILED due to a defective gas cap. Oh great! Pinched for time and, suddenly, pinched for excitement about saving the planet, the verse not running through my mind is Psalm 34:1: I will praise the LORD at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. 

Though I’m promised complimentary retesting, I commit to muttering all the way to the auto parts store. The salesperson sends me out the door in less than three minutes with the perfect gas cap from her impressive two-story inventory. How do I evaluate my performance as a leader on this day? I almost failed two tests, the emissions test and the attitude test. I don’t want to rev up my frustration based on circumstances. I don’t want to be on a treadmill: working hard and going nowhere. I don’t want obstacles to keep me from flooring it as I discover what’s possible. Instead, may I consider it pure joy!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ~ James 1:2-4 NIV

Sources: 1 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Testing; Air Care Colorado: How it Works; 3 Walker: Exhaust Gases 101.

by Michelle Sugerman • Leading Synergies, LLC • © All Rights Reserved

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