The important point in that article might just be "... no matter how negligible that increase may be." A lot of aftermarket tunes, especially when done on a dyno, produce better emissions and performance through more efficient burning of fuel than the compromise automakers have to juggle to meet EPA fleet standards.
While I appreciate clean air and clean running cars, and despise jokers who tune their diesel trucks for 650+ HP on the street blowing crud all over everything, or fart cans with oversized BOV's spewing raw exhaust, this ruling underscores that the good little soldiers behind the tiller at CARB are not car people in the slightest, and have their J.C. indoctrination agenda at the forefront of their actions. But hey, it's a bureaucracy, and the way to climb up the ranks is to get your name on the books for spearheading something new and relevant to the bureau's cause. Since that cause here is "people are stupid and wasteful, so we have to tell them what's right," you get rules like this without tackling the real abusers.
Gotta' wonder, when they've successfully converted the entire state to e-vehicles, only to discover they're even more rapidly destroying the environment by strip mining for the minerals, shipping by boat back-and-forth across two oceans for manufacturing different stages, as well as burning more fuel, hydro et al to generate the electricity to charge them, w/o nuclear power, all the while stockpiling mountains of hazardous-waste dead-batteries, if they'll ever stop to think it might have been their fault? Or is the problem still going to be the masses who demand their cars?" Or, will they just claim "best of intentions with what we knew back then?"
Like CA a few years ago banning all paper grocery bags, and replacing them with plastic "to save the trees," then finding out the tree industry had been doing just fine in their conservation and renewable practices all along, and was far more environmentally effective and friendly than the massive litter, energy costs, and long-term waste and hazards involved with plastic. A year after invoking the paper bag ban, paper was mysteriously "allowed" again, and you had your choice of paper or plastic. No mea culpa, no explanation, but it didn't take much to figure it out. Don't get me started.
As someone once said, "No bureaucracy was ever created to actually solve a problem... if it did, those people would be out of a job."
In any case. Several states already have these checks... It's nothing new. And for the dedicated there are plenty of ways to beat the system. This just catches the lazy or stupid, and I'm kinda ok with that.
So, I am more than a bit suspicious anytime I hear something new from CARB. I absolutely agree with penalizing those who abuse the tuner capabilities, but for every good thing CARB might point to, there are many poorly thought out regs which ultimately hurt those struggling to get by in this ridiculous CA economy, and who need private transportation the most.
Just one, "for instance:" I don't know anybody at CARB, but I do know a few Smog Test/Repair owners down here, who are extremely frustrated with most of the regs and ill-thought out scenarios which land legitimate shop owners into trouble.
Like if a shop has too many vehicles pass in a given month, even if they're performing repairs themselves and fixing the problem. As a CARB certified Smog facility, you're expected to fail something around 8% monthly, or you get penalty points. Do that a couple months in a row, and you're fined, the next time your certification will be suspended. The guys I use do a LOT of testing of high-end vehicles, and most of the testing for the larger dealerships and their used car dept., so they're not seeing a high percentage of borderline or fail cars. But, they're getting fined for having lower than 8% failure rates.
I used to wait until it was convenient for me to bring a vehicle down to get it smogged. Now, for all my cars and trucks, I routinely call the shops as soon as I receive a renewal notice, to see if they're on the border of passing too many this month (instead of waiting/procrastinating like I used to until its convenient). I'm waiting on average 2, sometimes 3 weeks to get into their "safe" zone. In fact, I just smogged my 5.0XR a month ago, and it failed the first attempt because a couple of the vacuum hoses on the tree controlling the smog pump and EGR had cracked, and we couldn't find it. I was not happy, but my guy said it actually helped him meet his fail-quota for the month and avoid getting fined again. While it took a while to track down the problem, it was simple enough to fix the issue, and the next time I brought it in, he was in his new month, and all was good.
These are competent, honest shops, opened by guys who've worked for crooked MBnz, BMW and GM dealers, got sick of it, and went out on their own. And they know how to work on cars, they're regularly taking CARB seminars/classes and know the mechanics and rules inside-out. So, you'd think the state would be happy that they're fixing all the borderline or first-attempt failed cars and making them clean?
No, CARB wants a failure rate of 8% regardless, which is a huge turnover of "older" vehicles being taken off the road every 7-8 years (see Nichols and Corey, above). But someone thought that 8% is the right number of cars which must need be eliminated or sold out of state every year for the goal of achieving their zero emissions. Being a conscientious, great mechanic who can fix an older car and make it smog and road worthy is evidently no excuse, nor evidently desirable anymore.
Not that CARB is going to make it by 2022 (best laid plans... good intentions, etc., etc.), even with all the deals they've made with other "green" countries, 'cause those damn automakers keep finding ways to meet stricter and stricter EPA/CAFE standards. Heck, those automakers are even imposing stricter standards on themselves. While I'd like to believe that's altruistic if not basic survival, I suspect it's much more about guaranteeing market dominance, and eliminating responsibilities of all those older warranty albatrosses in the form of fuel, and even fuel-hybrid power.
But, I ramble. The point is that I'm suspect of anything CARB institutes, given the backgrounds and stated goals of most of the officers and board members, the Sac appointed members, and the bureaucrat non-car people presenting the information these people are using to make decisions.
As a point of reference, here is my XR's smog report from 2005 and 2014
and here is the one from 2019:
The limits have not changed on this car in 16 years.
The same is true of my Saab c900s and my Fiero. Those are the only ones I really pay attention to, but I could dig up smog tests from other cars if you wanna see them.
Point being, I can bring the XR in at any time and as long it's below the limits it will pass. They won't magically fail it because they've passed too many. The machine does all the work.
Smogging as many cars as I do I know the shop pretty well - like to the point they give me a hefty discount. I know shops that fall outside the pass/fail norms are subject to increased scrutiny (because CARB anticipates cheaters in these scenarios) but I've never heard of penalties for those people. I mean, the rules are of public record - you can download them off the internet. It's all here:
Both my Smog shop owners have told me about the 8% (or 7%, I forget which) fail rate. And they've both said fines, suspension and revocation of license as penalties. I guess in a court of law, it's only hearsay on my part. But, that's being told about it by one, then getting confirmation from the other, so I have no reason to doubt the veracity of what they've said.
The expectation is that annually, that % of all cars tested WILL fail and should be taken off the road. I don't know where they got that figure, or what rationale used to determine. One of my guys said that in the seminar/re-cert he attended that introduced the scheme, (and I'm paraphrasing) when the CARB presenter got frustrated with the questions about why/how they got that number (most I assume were owners who had lower pass/fail rates than that), he told them that we "know" 90% of you guys are swapping vehicles on the dyno, or falsifying the visual checks to pass your buddies' tuned-up cars and trucks, or taking cash under the table to pass old cars that would otherwise fail. That went over big. When asked, "And, just how to you think we're supposed to be doing that?" he told them CARB has seen it all, and they not going to give them any new ideas for getting around the testing.
Again, I'm paraphrasing. But, to me, that's reflective of an elitist bureaucracy that is highly suspicious/disdainful of everyone else not in the circle (i.e., everyone else is part of the proletariat). Which by action is reason to be suspicious of them.
Also, while 95% of my smogs go through the same shop, sometimes that doesn't work out and I gotta say I've run into a LOT of shops that fundamentally don't know the law. The way I found "my guys" was after a series of terrible experiences with these shops. And the things I read online support my belief that a lot of these operators are nincompoops... there's a hilarious thread on the Fiero forum about a guy in San Jose (IIRC) getting his GT failed for having a Holley throttle body on his car. (ALL Fiero GTs have a Holley throttle body. Holley was the OE.)
I'm just saying I've never heard of these fines for too many passes per unit time. It's not in any of the handbooks and I'm really uncertain about what the expected outcome is in terms of the consumer.... is the smog shop supposed to fake failures? Take it in the shorts for doing their job? While I fully believe there is some statistic about 7% of cars failing, I really can't wrap my head around a fixed penalty for falling outside the norm. What happens in a place like Rancho Santa Fe where the average age of a car is 2 years? Are smog shops just paying out monthly fines? It doesn't compute. The only thing I've ever heard is for CARB to sting these guys... send in some bait.
I'll ask my shop if they've ever heard of such a thing next time I'm there. They're always super honest and up front with me. Maybe they can shed some light.
There's supposedly one of those shops around here. Don't know it, but my guys do, so it's likewise a reserve option in case I swap too many things in the XR.
BTW, was always curious... what do you do that has you bringing so many cars in for smog? Dealership, buy-fix-sell side business, fun?
Lijewski: "Sum Ergo Drive-O. Mucho!
Lijewski: "Sum Ergo Drive-O. Mucho!