EPA offering $500k to rev-up nationwide auto diagnostic Web site

Web site will help car community fight pollution, auto maintenance costs

The Environmental Protection Agency wants to bolster its Internet-based information clearinghouse to speed accurate and timely exchange of the technical information found in the on-board computer diagnostic systems of your car and the auto service industry.

On-board diagnostics (OBD) is a computer-based system built into all cars and truck built since 1996. OBD systems monitor the performance of some of a car engines' major components, including individual emission controls and offers car owners an early warning of malfunctions by way of the all-too-familiar dashboard "Check Engine" light. 

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For its part the EPA currently maintains a database of information related to vehicle OBDs between state inspection/maintenance programs, the automotive industry and the public via the Center for Automotive Science & Technology at Weber State University. The publically searchable database includes updated OBD information from auto manufacturers and state inspection stations.

According to the EPA, car inspection and maintenance programs help improve air quality by identifying high-emitting vehicles in need of repair (through visual inspection, emissions testing, and/or the downloading of fault codes from a vehicle's onboard computer) and having them fixed as a prerequisite to vehicle registration.

The EPA is now offering up to $500,000 for a company to maintain and improve the current system.  The purpose of the OBD Clearinghouse is to facilitate the accurate and timely availability or exchange of technical information related to OBD among state inspection programs, the automotive industry, and the public.

The site will also serve automotive technicians by providing current information about OBD technology, training opportunities, diagnostic tool vendors and public outreach materials. It will also serve as a comprehensive resource which includes national, state, and repair industry perspectives, the EPA stated.

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