EVAP Smoke Test Cost

How Much Does EVAP Smoke Test Cost?

Last Updated on February 4, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

An EVAP (evaporative emissions) smoke test is an important diagnostic tool for detecting leaks in your vehicle’s evaporation system. But how much should you expect to pay for this service?

This article will examine the average cost of an EVAP smoke test, what factors affect the price, how the test is performed, and tips for getting the best deal.

How Much Does EVAP Smoke Test Cost?

The average cost of an EVAP smoke test ranges from $50 to $150, depending on your location and the shop performing the test. Some independent mechanics may charge on the lower end, around $75 to $100. Dealerships and chain shops typically charge $100 to $150.

Major metro areas like Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago will be on the higher end, while small towns and rural areas often have lower labor rates. The make and model of your vehicle can also impact the price, as more complex EVAP systems take longer to test.

JerichoEquipment.com, for example, provides information on the EVAP smoke test and its importance in identifying leaks in the EVAP system. The site also offers EVAP smoke testing services at a cost of $89.99, which includes the diagnostic test but not any necessary repairs.

AutoZone.com provides a guide on how to perform an EVAP diagnostic smoke test, along with a list of necessary tools and equipment. The site also offers a range of EVAP smoke testing machines for sale, with prices ranging from $150 to $800.

Factors That Influence the EVAP Smoke Test Cost

The total price you pay will depend on a few important factors:

  • Labor Rates: The hourly diagnostic rate at the shop performing the test has a big impact. Higher labor rates mean a higher total bill.
  • Vehicle Make/Model: The EVAP system varies by vehicle. More complex systems take longer to test, increasing labor time and cost. Domestic models tend to be cheaper than European imports.
  • Difficulty Diagnosing the Leak: If a leak is small or hard to pinpoint, it may require extended smoke testing. This adds time to the diagnostic.
  • Location of the Leak: Leaks in difficult to access areas, like under the dashboard, take longer to find and repair.
  • Other Services: Many shops bundle the smoke test with related services like an OBD-II scan. Decline extras you don’t need.

The EVAP System and Why It’s Important

The EVAP system is your vehicle’s emissions control for vapor recovery. It prevents fuel vapors from escaping into the atmosphere from the fuel tank and fuel system.

EVAP components include:

  • Fuel tank
  • Fuel filler cap
  • Purge valve
  • Purge solenoid
  • Leak detection pump
  • Vapor canister

Issues like a loose gas cap or cracked hose can cause EVAP leaks. These will trigger the check engine light and set an emissions-related diagnostic trouble code (DTC). EVAP leaks can allow harmful hydrocarbons into the air and also degrade your car’s fuel economy and performance.

You might also be interested in the cost to replace piston rings, repair an exhaust leak, and repair the rocker arm.

Signs You May Need an EVAP Smoke Test

Watch for these common indicators of a potential EVAP system leak:

  • Check engine light – This is the most obvious sign of problems. EVAP leaks often set code P0440.
  • Fuel odor – Smelling gas fumes near the rear of your vehicle could mean a leak.
  • Difficulty refueling – Slow or premature stopping at the pump points to a leak.
  • Failed emissions test – Leaks cause hydrocarbon spikes that lead to test failure.
  • Reduced fuel economy – Significant leaks allow fuel evaporation, hurting MPG.

Don’t ignore these warning signs. Have your vehicle diagnosed to avoid further damage or emissions test failure. The EVAP smoke test process can accurately locate the leak.

How Mechanics Perform the EVAP Smoke Test

Here is the general process for an EVAP system leak test:

  1. Hook up the smoke machine – A smoke machine designed for EVAP testing connects to the fuel system.
  2. Pressurize the system – Shop air pumps through the lines and pressurizes the fuel tank, hoses, and components.
  3. Watch for smoke – The technician then visually inspects the entire system to spot where smoke emerges. This pinpoints the leak location.
  4. Confirm with dye – Fluorescent dye may be added to the smoke. When sprayed with a UV light, dye stains help highlight the leak source.
  5. Make repairs – Once the leak is found, the affected component is replaced or repaired to stop emissions escaping.

The test takes 30-60 minutes, depending on the difficulty in isolating the leak. Simple leaks can be very quick to fix.

Choosing the Right Shop for an EVAP Test

Finding a qualified technician is important for accurate diagnostics. Here are a few tips:

  • Check for ASE certification – Mechanics with ASE L1 certification specialize in advanced emissions testing.
  • Find a high-volume shop – Techs who perform frequent EVAP testing will be most proficient.
  • Ask about warranty – Many shops provide a 6 month or 1 year warranty on emissions repairs.
  • Compare pricing – Don’t be afraid to call around and ask for quotes over the phone.
  • Verify diagnostic fees – Some shops waive the test fee if you proceed with recommended repairs.

How to Reduce the Cost of an EVAP Smoke Test

EVAP TesterIf you’re on a tight budget, try these tips to save on an EVAP system diagnosis:

  • Perform a simple gas cap tightness test first. Replace the cap if faulty.
  • Ask the shop about discount coupons or first-time customer specials.
  • Consider independent mechanics rather than dealerships to save on labor rates.
  • Buy your own OBD-II scanner and check for trouble codes before paying for a diagnostic.
  • Ask if test costs are waived with repair. Some shops roll the fee into the total bill.
  • Repair EVAP leaks as soon as possible to prevent more damage that’s costly to fix.

Final Words

While a smoke test is an essential part of maintenance, the cost can fit any budget by shopping around. Prices start around $75 up to $150 at most shops.

Carefully researching technicians and asking for discounts can help you get the lowest price. But don’t put off diagnosis and repair, as EVAP leaks can lead to big bills down the road for emission system repairs and failed inspections.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does an EVAP smoke test take?

An EVAP smoke test typically takes 30 minutes to 1 hour. Simple cases with obvious leaks can be diagnosed in as little as 15-30 minutes. If the leak is small or difficult to isolate, it may take a full hour for the technician to pinpoint the problem area. EVAP tests rarely take longer than an hour.

Will a car smoke test find an EVAP leak?

Yes, an EVAP smoke test is designed specifically to detect leaks in the evaporative emission control system. The pressurized smoke is able to find even the smallest leaks that would cause issues.

The technician can then make a targeted repair just on the damaged component. A smoke test is the most accurate way to find EVAP leaks.

How to do EVAP smoke test at home?

While professional equipment is needed for a full EVAP smoke test, you can do a simple at-home leak test. Start by ensuring the gas cap is tight and no visual leaks are present.

Then take a can of brake cleaner and lightly spray connections at the purge valve, hoses, and vapor canister while the engine is running. If the RPMs change, it indicates a small leak is present. However, this is not as failproof as a professional smoke test at a shop. You can even go as far as buying an EVAP smoke tester for personal use.

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