Project Troopercabra - Part III: The Smog Retest

So I was hoping to bring you glad tidings of great joy, but it was not to be. I fixed the things the Smog Man said I had to, and I fixed the thing that would keep it from misfiring, but to no avail.

The Initial Test

When we left the action, I had reported that I had passed the emissions portion of the CA Smog test, but I failed the inspection due to a bad gas cap, aftermarket intake, and incorrect breather hose. For those of you who don’t know, California doesn’t have a safety inspection. That’s not important, apparently. Only emissions matter, so the inspection I’m speaking of is an emission compliance inspection that Smog Test centers have to do to make sure that the vehicle is completely stock. Any alteration must be C.A.R.B. certified except for a catback exhaust.



The gas cap was easy to find; you can find universals everywhere for $6. The intake was bought salvage off of eBay for $80. Yet, no one carries the form fitted breather hose anymore, since Isuzu as a car company is dead in America.

To remedy this, I had to “practice mechanics,” as my old mentor used to say. The breather hose has to make a severe “S” shape and would make any hose kink. Instead of getting one made, I bought a section of bulk hose and filled it with a section of smaller bulk hose. I cut the smaller one lengthwise and force-fed it into the larger one. this gave it enough stiffness to not kink once it was bent.

Hose Inception
No kinks!

The other thing that had to be fixed was the valve cover gaskets and spark plug seals. Oil was getting into the plug holes and causing misfires.


Look at the center hole. The seal is off and letting oil in. The other five weren’t much better. The repair was a pain because half of the hex bolts that secure the cover on were stripped already, but my wife helped so it was all good.


The Retest

I took it to the Smog place the next day to get retested, which was free at this location thankfully. They gave me a pass on the inspection and performed the emissions test.

Looking for the exhaust pipe... a repair of future debate.

It failed HCs by 19 PPM. The fuel trims indicate it’s running too rich at about -15% LTFT. Apart from a possible leaky injector, I think the vehicle is running too coldly. I suspect the previous owner put a 160* thermostat in it thinking that cooler = better. It rarely goes above 170*. Look for that fix in a future episode.



I’ve been pretty open about my frustration with the delays on this rig so far. I know y’all’ve been there where you want to scream, “Ah! I just wanna go on a trip!” ...where all your free time is spent on un-fun stuff like fixing leaks. I’m at the point where my recon budget is pretty much spent; and all future fixes promise weekends of long, cold, dirty, bloody, dark hours bent over the grill... listening to the forged metal tempo of crrreet, crrreet, crrreet as I ratchet my unchildrened years away. I just want to go on a trip.


Alas, a moment of relief spurned as I was waiting in the, um, waiting room of the shop. Unaware that they had parked the turd, I looked out the window and thought, “Hey, that’s a nice rig,” only to realize it was mine own. I guess I’ll keep working.

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