Sunday, February 21, 2021

Down to Half Street

 Our car's inspection sticker expired on February 26. Early yesterday I drove to Half Street SW, for what I expected to be a quick and pro-forma check. It was not quite what I expected.

For one thing, I expected to make the usual turn from Independence Avenue onto Washington Avenue. But it turns out that the intersection is about a half block inside the Capitol security perimeter. I turned down 2nd Street, found no way east, and backtracked to 4th Street. The chain-link fences along 2nd looked unusually high, perhaps 10 feet, though I may have misjudged them because I was seated. A couple of men in military uniforms were walking down on the other side of the fence, probably National Guardsmen.

For another, the car failed inspection with a couple of unresponsive sensors. The inspector advised me to Google "drive cycle", a manner of driving that may help awaken the sensors on a car that has been long parked. (It had not been parked that long.) The internet, of course, had plenty of advice about drive cycles, and for once the advice offered did not differ wildly. My brother offered a version that was similar, but specified starting with an almost empty tank of gas. But the owner's manual offers a recipe that does not require leaving the curb. Better still, it offers a way to see whether the sensors are responding. I'll see about this on Wednesday, when it will be warmer.


  1. What are the sensors and what do you need to do to reignite them? Our car hasn't moved all winter; having read your post, I am now full of whatever the equivalent is of hypochondria but for the state of one's car's health.

    1. And I see I didn't answer the first part of your question. The ones mentioned at the inspection as unresponsive are to monitor the catalytic converter on the one hand and the evaporative system--checking fuel system integrity--on the other.

  2. The owner's manual specifies 20 seconds at idle, three or so minutes at 2000 RPM to bring the temperature gauge at least a quarter of the way up, then 20 seconds at idle. This did not work. The dealership said that highway driving would fix this. On Friday we drove to Pennsylvania and back, about 200 miles with 160 of highway. That did not work. It's back to the dealership tomorrow.

    We have driven the car less since the pandemic, but we didn't drive it that much before. Probably your car is fine. I suspect that your owner's manual also has instructions for checking.