California SMOG Test Will Include ECU Tune Checks

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Ed Lijewski
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California SMOG Test Will Include ECU Tune Checks

Post by Ed Lijewski »

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Re: California SMOG Test Will Include ECU Tune Checks

Post by DPDISXR4Ti »

Not possible with EEC-IV, so we have nothing to worry about in this regard.
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Re: California SMOG Test Will Include ECU Tune Checks

Post by john keefe »

Maybe I should preface this with, "Don't get me started..."

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."
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Re: California SMOG Test Will Include ECU Tune Checks

Post by thesameguy »

It's proof positive that a few bad apples spoil the bunch. If every mod was defensible we wouldn't need these laws. All it takes it a handful of jackasses rolling coal or defeating cat diagnostics and the whole thing gets set in motion. I know people at CARB, including legit car people. They don't wake up every morning looking at how to {%@ us... They are responding to inputs, and as the saying goes the squeaky wheel gets the grease. And in this wacked out metaphor the squeaky wheel is a jackass with a tuned Cummins and we all get greased.

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.
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Re: California SMOG Test Will Include ECU Tune Checks

Post by john keefe »

Sameguy, I defer to your knowledge of CARB guys you know, and I'm sure there must be quite a few real car guys there, but they're not the ones making decisions. Both Mary Nichols and Dick Corey, whose essential experiences are in "climate change theory" and "environmental toxicology," have stated that their (CARB's) goal is zero emissions throughout all industries in CA, and the elimination of cars and trucks (by 2022, said in 2012/5), supplanted by zero emissions public transportation, light rail, and Jerry Brown's boondoggle $164 Billion speed train to LA (cost thus far, not a single mile of track yet laid since 2018, never mind that no one at that time actually commuted from the Bay Area to So.Cal).

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.
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Re: California SMOG Test Will Include ECU Tune Checks

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I'm not following this 8% rule... I know there are statistics which describe averages, but I don't think there is a concept of "rolling rules." The smog pass/fail guidelines are adjusted occasionally, but the last adjustment was in 2009 or 2012... A long time ago. A car that passed in 2009 and whose emissions haven't changed in 12 years will still pass today. There is not some threshold at which cars suddenly start failing on a monthly basis. I smog 10-15 cars every year at the same shop, and I haven't had a failure since 2008 (?) when my f-body failed.

As a point of reference, here is my XR's smog report from 2005 and 2014

Image

and here is the one from 2019:

Image

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:

https://www.bar.ca.gov/Resources
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Re: California SMOG Test Will Include ECU Tune Checks

Post by john keefe »

I understand what you're saying, but I'm not claiming rolling rules, or that they're constricting the emissions standards as cars age. My XR only failed the first time due to faulty vac lines, but passed the second time under the same standards its always had since the 5.0L swap. Same for the Scorpio, the Jeep, Range Rover etc (trucks and Flex are too new). I count on those pass/fail standards to not change.

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.
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Re: California SMOG Test Will Include ECU Tune Checks

Post by thesameguy »

I don't know your guys, but I definitely do know some "worst kept secret" smog shops that will pass anything for some money - that is definitely not made up. There were a few places in town like that positively notorious for passing cars that shouldn't. Annoyingly, a lot of these were clean swaps etc. that I think should be legal but at the same time I acknowledge the letter of the law aspect here. Most of them have been unceremoniously shut down. I still know of one ... which I keep in my back pocket in case of emergency. :D

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.
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Re: California SMOG Test Will Include ECU Tune Checks

Post by john keefe »

You may be correct on the fine, thing. I could be equating probations/suspensions as "fines" since they're not recouping the monthly equipment and other costs during those periods of inactivity.

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. :D

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?
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Re: California SMOG Test Will Include ECU Tune Checks

Post by thesameguy »

I personally own 12 cars, so that's about six a year right there. I tend to flip 2-3 a year... Not really a business, just a free hobby with a side of good karma... I get to do something I like and when I am done someone who needs a car gets something decent for short money. It's break even at best, but turning a hobby into an actual for-profit business is a quick way to ruin a hobby. Since I have a good relationship with the shop and decent car knowledge I tend to help friends out as well - give it a tuneup, get it smogged, collect booze or favors. ;)
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Re: California SMOG Test Will Include ECU Tune Checks

Post by john keefe »

12? Early 90's, we moved to a new neighborhood. We had a couple of Audi's, a MBnz, my work truck, a LR, and about 5 XR's. Just so happened that friends dropped by for the day with their German cars, one still with recent used car stickers still on the window. After they left, one of our new neighbor's introduced themselves and wanted to know if the XR's were German. He then asked if I was a used German car dealer. And, did I know that the City forbade car businesses outside the designated commercial zoning, and if we took up any more parking he'd report us for dealing cars right now. Nothing like getting off on the right foot with your neighbors. We moved a couple years later to greener pastures.
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Re: California SMOG Test Will Include ECU Tune Checks

Post by thesameguy »

Yeah, I get that. There's a fine line between enthusiasm and intentionally skirting licensing & zoning requirements... I mean, I wouldn't rat out my neighbors for living their lives, but I do understand people not wanting their residential area turning into a commercial area. I moved from a dense urban area to a borderline rural area years ago so I wouldn't run that risk. Turns out NIMBYs are everywhere, but at least here they don't have a legal leg to stand on. And I keep my mess to myself - the garage and most of the driveway is behind the house so nobody has to look at it.
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Re: California SMOG Test Will Include ECU Tune Checks

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Re: California SMOG Test Will Include ECU Tune Checks

Post by andyofcolumbusmerkur »

Wow lobbyists did something good. Amazing.
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Re: California SMOG Test Will Include ECU Tune Checks

Post by Ed Lijewski »

CARB in CA will fight it to the death.

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