CA Smog Info


Smog Check Alerts!!

Oh shit. You've heard the adds on the radio, about the road side dyno tests? Well its true and may be coming to a street near you:

March 25, 1998
Dan reports from the field:
Kanan Rd. was squeezed down to one lane, and before [I] knew it [I] saw the dyno test.

So it was all for the sake of "our childrens air" as the TV propaganda ads go now and a simple 10 minute check as the official paperwork states?

Well [I] was stuck in traffic for over an hour because of what amounted to a no-real-reason road closure. Every other car was being pulled over as there were many police officers to make sure everyone stayed in line. And those people selected didn't look happy, the body language was telling [me] (standing with arms crossed, and grim faces), not to mention being delayed for an hour BEFORE any testing had begun.

After all when was the last time you got in your car to go somewhere at no particular time? And not to mention the presence of many mechanics, cops. Of most conscern was the persence of SEVERAL tow trucks near the dyno ---- "Vehicles are tested solely for the purpose of gathering data."?????

I was one of the fortunate 50% that did not get picked. They were dyno testing cars on a "low boy" portable dyno. There was a huge line of cars in one of the closed off lanes (to be checked). Optional my ass!!! If you were unlucky then... pop the hood and dyno it baby!

The escape route idea has plagued me as well. There was major "unusual" congestion until the street came to an area bordered by an island & sidewalk. There were no cross-streets for ~ 1/2 mi. By the time I figured out what was going on I was in a marked off lane w/o any option of turning around. BTW I had to change my shorts by the time I got home. All bases covered if you ask me...

Bastards...all of them


Now I was thinking about this, mostly saying "damn cops, damn bar, damn epa, damn damn damn", but in reality there is quite a game being played here. The cops aren't the source of the problem, and are being screwed by this too. They don't really have a choice in the matter. They are forced to set up these smog checks: "You will dyno every car on Kanan Rd. during peak hours." After a few minutes of pissed off drivers, the cops start getting defensive and pissed off, and pretty soon no one is happy, no one is nice and no one wins. Likely 98% of the people they screwed over on Kanan Rd. were not guilty of anything, but now those people are really pissed off. The big problem is that they are pissed off at the cops, not the BAR. Do you see the problem there? By using the police as their bad publicity shield, the anger is directed at the wrong group. The cops are just another pawn in their political game. Those phone calls to the police to complain about the delays, are wasted. They need to go to our the state legislature in Sacramento, the govenor and your city mayor.

So what if you are chosen? IT IS OPTIONAL!! REQUIRED READING : http://smogcheck.ca.gov/000141.htm. Quote: "The BAR representative will do everything possible to accommodate special circumstances, but motorist participation is vital to the study’s success." To me, that sentence reads, your are not required to submit, but we are going to do everything we can to get you on the dyno. They are not going to tell you its optional! And they are going to practically deny it. And they are going to delay you as long as they can. And they are going to intimidate you with police officers and tow trucks. And they are going to black-mail you, looking at your big exhaust tip, and lowered suspension. Your tires better not be past the wear bars on the inside, and your exhaut better not be too loud. They can give you an "unsafe condition" ticket right there. BAM! Its illegal to drive your car on the road because the car is too low, or some other lame excuse....

Don't believe its that bad? Check this out:

Subject: Don't go to San Diego

A few weeks ago I was pulled over for an illegal U-turn. It was near the local races here in Diego so the cop had a guy from the Bureau of Automotive Repair with him doing hood checks. All my stuff is CARB legal(or so I thought) so I let them look under my hood. Well , within a few minutes there are 4 cop cars stopped and all the cops have their flashlights at my car looking for anything to get me with. A cop with a tape measure cites me for balding tires(only one of my tires was 1/32"), tinted windows, and the guy from BAR tells me I have to bring in my car for inspection because of the yellow hoses connected to my CARB legal Akimoto air filter hose. The guy said something like any hose that carries fumes has to be approved. He said you could tell if the hose is approved if there is writing on it. On the paper he gave me the emission violation was under PCV with MODIFIED circled and he wrote "Non approved crankcase hose." He also wrote "no visible O2 sensor." I told the genius it was under the car but his lazy ass didn't want to look. So anyways I wasn't worrying too much about it cuz I figure that I'll just change the hoses back, get my car inspected and pay a small fix it fine. Well I got the fine in the mail today and it's 271 f_ckin dollars!!!! I don't have all the old hoses but the one I still have has no writing on it whatsoever. Shouldn't these yellow hoses be legal since they came with a CARB legal air filter kit?! CAN ANYONE PLEASE HELP ME?!?! Does anyone know the legality of these hoses? Should I try calling Akimoto or CARB?

As thorough as these guys were being I was surprised they never once said anything about my front licenese plate(it's on my dash) or my exhaust. My exhaust is Trust and I have paperwork stating its legality but they never asked for it. The BAR guy even opened my gas tank and looked under my gas cap. That's how thorough they were being. No idea what he was looking for though.

'93 Prelude VTEC

SEND FEED BACK TO THE BAR: http://smogcheck.ca.gov/000042.htm

CA smog legal, BAR approved ZC?


Yesterday, I decided I wanted to get my ZC california certified. Why? Well I saw Ryan W's very nice BAR registered 92 Civic with 95 GS-R motor, and I was very very jealous of that sticker. I want one!!

So starting today, I am going to start a little journal of the process I will have to go thru.

The BAR Referee phone number for info and scheduling is 1-800-622-7733. (How to schedule and appointment with a Referee) I called and started asking questions. Like where is my local referee, and when are they open. Even though their web page says "many referee sites are now open during weekends and evenings", NONE of the sites within a hour of me are included in that. The BAR representative admitted that only a few are actually open these extra hours. That means 8-5pm M-F. There is not a site close enough to my work to go to during the daytime. For those of you familar with LA county, I am in Northridge. The three nearest are Torance, Norwalk and Arcadia. The next nearest is Palmdale. The Arcadia site is near my house, so I guess I have to take time off work to do this.

BAH! That sucks.

They are using the Dyno already at the referee stations, and she promised they would perform a pretty throrough test. I am confident that the ZC with the Si ecu and the DX or Si cat will have no problem passing. I've seen Civics and Integras pass with cams, and others pass with no-cat, so my unmodified ZC should not be a problem. I currently have a DC header, but it has CARB EO#s. Then again, run those numbers and it will refer to a 86-89 Integra... Maybe I'll put my stock exhaust manifold back on to avoid the hassle. But I really want it to smog with the header! Some think that the ZC won't pass, however, no one has ever told me that they personally failed the tailpipe emissions test with the ZC. If you have, mail me NOW!

    I have two concerns with my ZC.
  • One: I don't know what year my engine is, and I don't know if the BAR will be able to tell either. I am trying to find out. Since I have an 89, it needs to be 89 or newer.
  • Two: The underhood inspection will reveal the DOHC motor where the SOHC is supposed to be. The ZC was never sold in California, or the US. It looks similar to the 86-89 Integra, but not exactly the same. And the ZC clearly says 'ZC' on the block, where the Integra says D16A1. I could try to pass it off as an Integra motor, but since they were 86-89, they would probably really like to confirm the year, which would point to the block ID numbers, which then wouldn't match up with known Integra numbers. So then they'd know its not an Integra motor, and still wouldn't know the year. That's a likely senario, IF, they actually have those block numbers cataloged. Regardless, I think I will present it as a ZC motor, and explaining that it is similar to the Integra, but it is made to mount in the Civic, as it was offered in Japan. I expect to get more thoroughly tested with this route, but like I said, I am confident my unmodified ZC will pass. The risk is that they will reject the motor because it was never offered here.

There supposedly is a list of approved replacement motors, including motors imported from Japan. Perhaps the ZC is already on this list. Perhaps the ZC is banned from this list. I think that will be the focus of my next phone call. Is the ZC on any list?


I tried to get the phone number for the Arcadia referee station. I wanted to talk to a tech to see if they have already seen a ZC. Considering the area, I think its highly likely. However, she was very firm that I could not get the info UNLESS I made an appointment.

So I tried calling the Consumer Information Center (1-800-952-5210). After a 20 minute wait, they answered. It was almost immediately apparent that the phone rep had no idea what I was talking about. I want to know if, for any reason, the ZC is KNOWN to be a valid or in-valid replacement engine. Otherwise, I'll just make an appointment. But since it is a Jap engine that was never offered in the US, I wanted to make sure there wasn't something specifically against Japanese engines. The rep took down my questions, very detailed, and told me a technician would call me back within 48 hours. I am kinda excited about getting to talk to someone who knows. So, we will see...


*sigh* Yesterday, Larry from the Consumer Information Center called me back. He apologized for being behind schedule. Then we got down to business.

Main issue. My DX is a CA certified vehicle. Bought in CA, and CA registered. It is therefore illegal to put anything other than a CA certified California engine in my vehicle. The ZC was never offered in the US, and there was not a DOHC Civic offered in my model generation car. Thus the ZC would not be a smog legal replacement engine.

I told him that the ZC engine is very similar to the 89 Integra. Larry explained that if the block and casting numbers matched those of the 89 Integra motors, then it could be considered that. Well, we know that the ZC has a big fat 'ZC' stamped right on the block...   He also reiterated that it must be a 89 or newer motor, even if the previous year motor is identical.

Since Larry had pretty quickly given me the answer I was dreading, I decided to pick his brain.

Is it legal to swap in the 1.6L Si motor and ecu for my car?
Yes, but be sure to get any of the smog equipment that is specific to that car. Smog canister, air box, PVC valves, hoses, Cat.
Your DX/Si manual will make it very clear what is different.

What if took the long block from a 92-95 Civic and bolted my intake manifold or an Si manifold to it, and installed it in my Civic. It would use the Ecu that matches the intake manifold.
No, that would not be legal. Mixing and matching of parts, like intake manifolds and ecus, is not allowed. It would be legal to swap the entire 92-95 engine, intake manifold, ecu and all other smog related parts.

What about installing an Integra engine in my car?
As long as all the smog equipment stays with the motor, it is not a problem.

The Integra motors do not always bolt in. Is it okay if I modify or re-weld my motor mounts to fit an Integra motor?
That is not a problem. As long as the work does not appear unsafe, and everything is secured like it should be.

The Honda Del Sol came with a special DOHC VTEC motor from 94-95, and there is a version from Japan that bolts into my car. Will this motor be considered a CA certified replacement engine since there is an equivalent here?
Maybe. Only if the block numbers from the motor you want refer to motors that are from 94-95. If they are older, then the answer is no.

How does the referee know the engine numbers?
They have books that list the engine codes for the ranges of years. They list all the California certified engines.
Is it possible to call or send in an engine number and found out if it is CA certified?

Do you know who collects the information for those books?

Is there anyway to talk to a referee?
Yes. Make an appointment. Just give me your full name, address, licence plate number, and ....
I don't think so!

So, that looks like it is the end of my quest. Failure.

Now, I know it is still possible to get the ZC smogged, that was never the issue. Some shops won't care as long as it passes the tail pipe, and some are just ignorant. But most of those smog station didn't buy the dyno rollers and therefore are out of the smog business. The number of shops is greatly reduced. Each shop had to spend $40-$60 thousand dollars to have the rollers and computer equipment installed. With this kind of investment, few shops are going to risk bending the rules. It will be harder to get smogged.

My goal was to get my car made smog legal, so I could avoid all those hassles and just point at the sticker.

I realize now why the ZC can't be a smog legal replacement engine. Either your replacement engine comes from a CA certified California vehicle and you get a nice BAR sticker telling the smog shop to test your car based on your new engine, or your replacement engine is an exact match of the engine you are replacing, meaning that your car will always be treated as what it is, with no hassle. The ZC is neither of these.



From: HyperSi T
To: joe_r@wgn.net
Subject: my ZC passed smog cleaner then my original DX motor

i got a ZC with a 92 to 95 civic Si header,JG throttlebody,air filter mounted behind front right fender (cold air) and stromung exhaust and 150,000 miles on the original cat with stock 91 Si computer. got it all from THE PLACE RACING IN '96

From: HyperSi T
To: joe_r@wgn.net
Subject: the smog program for the IM240 dyno test is not working

the new OBDII smog test also known as the IM240 cuz it test your car for two hundred and forty seconds. starting first at start up, then acceleration, steady speed and finally deceleration. go out of spec anywhere in the tested RPM range and you FAIL!!!!!!!!!!! fuck that shit. they still havent worked out the bugs in the dyno testing program yet. so all those $50,000 roller dyno's you see are just collecting dust and the smog station owners still have to make payments on equipment that they cannot use,but were forced into buying last year 1997 by december. what a bunch of shit and then the EPA said that if california didnt start using the new smog test, then californai would lose federally funded road repairs and new road construction money for not meeting new smog standards. SO DO YOU REALLY THINK THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WOULD LET CALIFORNIA'S ROADS FALL APART ? HELL NO!!!!! THINK ABOUT IT THE REST OF THE COUNTRY REVOLVES AROUND CALIFORNIA. IF BUSINESSES IN CALIFORNIA COULD NOT GET THERE PRODUCTS OUT OF CALI CUZ THE ROAD WERE FALLING APART THEN THE WHOLE COUNTRY WILL SUFFER. ITS JUST THOSE FUCKING ASSHOLES IN THE EPA PADDING THEIR BACK POCKETS WITH OUR OVERLY TAXED HARD EARNED MONEY.

Nicely put.

More smog links:

You can legally request an off-line pre-inspection if you have any concerns about passing. You may have to pay for it, but its much less than the cost of repairs if you fail.

A must read: BAR Engine change Guidlelines

I suggest you read the http://smogcheck.ca.gov web site, thoroughly. Their search engine will point you to alot of cool and scary stuff.

Is the EPA working for us or for some hidden political agenda?

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