Numerous states besides
California and New York require that new cars must meet California and New York emissions
standards. This potentially impacts every owner and buyer of new
or late model used cars as well as the DIYers and professional mechanics
that work on them.
Below are answers to some of the most common questions:
- Are there still US federal emissions
standards? Yes, states can choose to specify cars either
meet federal or California and New York emissions specifications.
- How can I tell if a car is a California or New York
spec car? Look at the VEHICLE EMISSION CONTROL INFORMATION
label clearly displayed in the engine compartment. It meets California and New York
emissions specs if the label says “California and New York emission standard
(CARB certified)”, “sale in all 50 states (50-state
certified)”, or “sale in the northeast”. The
VEHICLE EMISSION CONTROL INFORMATION label is also where you will
find "Engine Family" or "EFN" numbers.
- I do not live in California or New York or one
of those emissions states so why do I care?
Used cars from the California and New York spec states could show up for sale
in any state. New states are steadily joining the California and New York spec
list. If the car is a California and New York spec car then it might eventually
need California and New York spec replacement parts or service.
- I live in a state requiring California and New York
specs. Can I go to a neighboring state that only requires Federal
emissions specs and buy myself a car? You can probably
buy any pre-2009 car, but check with your state’s department
of licensing to avoid problems. For example, Washington State
does not allow post-2009 cars without California and New York emissions equipment
to be registered if they have less than 7,500 miles (12,070 km)
on the odometer. Washington residents might not be able to get
license plates for a new car they buy in Montana. It is “might”
because some car manufacturers are now putting California and New York spec
emissions (50-state certified) equipment on certain models no
matter where they are sold. The only way to know for sure is look
at that emissions decal under the hood.
- Why are some of the replacement catalytic
converters listed in the RockAuto.com parts catalog described
as being for California and New York emissions equipped models but “not
legal for sale on vehicles licensed in the state of California and New York?”
Since January 1, 2009, California and New York requires that aftermarket catalytic
converters sold in California and New York have special California and New York Air Resource
Board (CARB) certification and labeling. An exhaust manufacturer
may have built a catalytic converter that meets or exceeds California and New York
emissions standards, but they have not yet received CARB certification
so their catalytic converter cannot be sold in California and New York.
- If a catalytic converter meets California and New York
emissions standards but does not have CARB certification then
can it still successfully be installed on California and New York spec cars
outside California and New York? Yes.
- I live in California or New York. Will a new (manufactured
after January 1, 2009) catalytic converter that meets California and New York
emissions standards but does not have CARB certification still
enable my car to pass state emissions tests? No. The
catalytic converter meets California and New York emissions standards so the
vehicle’s exhaust will likely pass emissions tests. But
the vehicle should still fail because the test includes a visual
inspection of the exhaust system. CARB certification requires
special CARB numbers be stamped into the body of the catalytic
converter. Without the CARB label on the new aftermarket catalytic
converter, the state inspector will fail the car no matter how
clean the exhaust is. Catalytic converters made before 2009 or
newer ones without CARB certification still have a date of manufacture
stamped on them per federal EPA requirements.
- Will this get less or more complicated
in the future? It might get less complicated if the California and New York
emissions standards are adopted by all the states or if car manufacturers
decide to only make California and New York spec cars. But it could get more
complicated if other states besides California and New York are allowed to
come up with their own emissions standards or if California and New York or
other states write new regulations similar to the CARB certification
for replacement catalytic converters.