What Do You Mean My Car's Not Ready?

A Consumer Guide to Readiness Monitor Failures as Part of the New York State Vehicle Inspection Program

What is a Readiness Monitor?

Vehicles equipped with On Board Diagnostic II (OBDII), which includes most 1996 or newer gasoline-powered vehicles and most 1997 or newer diesel-powered vehicles that have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) less than 8,501 pounds, self-test their emission systems utilizing various monitors. Vehicles perform up to 11 system tests, depending on year, make and model of the vehicle. These tests are commonly referred to as "readiness monitors." The readiness monitors identify whether the vehicle's computer has completed the required "tests" while the vehicle is being driven.

If a test has been completed, the system status will be reported "ready." An uncompleted test will be reported "not ready." An OBDII vehicle will not pass the annual inspection unless the required monitors are "ready." The Vehicle Inspection Report from the test equipment will identify monitors that are not ready.

The test equipment reads the OBDII and readiness monitor status as part of the vehicle's emissions inspection. The vehicle inspector cannot change the information reported by the vehicle.

How Many Monitors Have to be Ready?

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines allow up to two monitors to be in a "not ready" state for model year 1996 through 2000 vehicles and one monitor "not ready" for 2001 or newer model year vehicles.

What Causes a "Not-Ready" Report?

Causes of a "not ready" report:

  • Recent vehicle repairs in which diagnostic trouble codes have been cleared with a OBDII scan tool; or,
  • if the battery had been recently disconnected or replaced; or,
  • if the vehicle's computer requires a software update; or,
  • a pending problem has not yet illuminated the "check engine" light.

What Do I Do Now?

To allow your vehicle's monitors to perform their tests and reset them to a "ready" state, your vehicle will have to be driven in a special way called a "drive cycle." Running through the drive cycle sets the readiness monitors so they can detect any emissions failures. Your vehicle's specific drive cycle can depend on the vehicle make and model, and which monitor needs to be reset. In most cases, two drive cycles are required, separated by a cool down period.

What Are My Options?

If the only reason your vehicle failed the inspection was due to readiness monitors not being in a "ready" state, and your current inspection has already expired, the inspection software will issue a 10-day extension that will allow you to legally operate your vehicle on the highways. During those ten days, you can either:

  1. Drive the vehicle as directed by your owner’s manual (look under OBD); use the generic drive cycle on the back of this brochure; or consult with a qualified auto technician who can tell you how to complete a vehicle or monitor specific drive cycle. Be sure to return to the inspection station within ten days to get the vehicle re-inspected.
  2. Negotiate with the inspection station to have a technician perform the drive cycles according to manufacturer specific guidelines for a fee you will pay.

If you take the vehicle from the inspection facility to perform the drive cycle yourself, the inspection station operator can charge you an emission re-inspection fee, up to the maximum fee allowed for an original emission inspection.

How Do I Avoid This in the Future?

Tips to consider:

  1. If your check engine light comes on, do not wait until your annual inspection to get your vehicle repaired. Not only will it help clean the air, but it could save you a lot of time, as well as future repair and fuel costs.
  2. Refer to your owner's manual to see if your car has a readiness monitor check. Some newer model vehicles have this function programmed in, which enables you to check your vehicle's monitors before an inspection.
  3. Inspect your vehicle early! Do not wait until the end of the month to get your annual inspection.

Generic Drive Cycle

The purpose of the OBDII drive cycle is to run your vehicle's onboard diagnostics. This, in turn, allows monitors to operate and detect potential malfunctions of your vehicle's emission system. The correct drive cycle for your vehicle can vary greatly, depending on the vehicle model and the monitors that need to be reset. When a specific drive cycle is not known, or drive cycle information is not available from an owner's manual, the generic cycle described below may assist with resetting your vehicle's monitors. However, this generic cycle may not work for all vehicles.

IMPORTANT: If you choose to use the generic drive cycle below, you must obey all traffic laws and drive in a safe manner. Also, be sure the required preconditions are met prior to performing the drive cycle.

  1. The OBDII drive cycle begins with a cold start (coolant temperature below 122 degrees F and the coolant and air temperature sensors within 11 degrees of each other).
  2. The ignition key must not be left on prior to the cold start – otherwise the heated oxygen sensor diagnostic may not run.

    • As soon as the engine starts, idle the engine in drive for two and one-half minutes, with the air conditioning (A/C) and rear defrost turned on, if equipped.
    • Turn the A/C and rear defrost off, and accelerate to 55 mph under moderate, constant acceleration. Hold at a steady speed of 55 mph for three minutes.
    • Decelerate (coast down) to 20 mph without braking (or depressing the clutch for manual transmissions).
    • Accelerate again back to 55 to 60 mph.
    • Hold at a steady speed of 55 to 60 mph for five minutes. Decelerate (coast down) to a stop without braking.

 For additional information, see Inspection Requirements


Mark J. F. Schroeder, Commissioner


C-114 (2/07) Edited for the internet 6/14


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