View Full Version : CA C5ers...tougher Smog Check coming

Hib Halverson
02-07-04, 07:51 PM
The environmental jihadists are at it again...trying to force your older Corvette off the road.

Last year, right after the modification of SB708 to eliminate repeal of the 30-year rolling exemption to the Smog Check and that bill's signing by then-Gov. Davis, many people who watch environmental legislation as it applies to car enthusiasts, predicted that the liberal environmentalists who control the California legislature and various administrative bodies, such as the California Air Resources Board, would not give up. They were right!

A recent public meeting held by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) revealed many proposals which will have direct, negative impact on owners of older Corvettes and other enthusiast cars along with vehicles owned by lower income persons. The proposals will focus significant regulatory attention on emissions reductions from older vehicles.

The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) maintains that such proposals are based upon a flawed computer model, erroneous assumptions and the use of biased data that is unfairly and illogically skewed by the emissions of a small number of vehicles in any model year.

Now...are you sitting down? If not, do that first.

The measures the CARB and the CA legislature want to become law include stricter standards for the Smog Check emissions-testing program. This means that not only will your 60s or early 70s Corvette have to be tested to verify it meets emissions standards, but your car may have to meet a standard more stringent than the one it had to meet when they it manufactured. Also, get ready for a new round of requirements forcing you to install "retrofit devices." Don't know what a "retrofit device" is? Well, remember back in the mid-70s? California tried to force retrofit of emissions devices to older vehicles not originally equipped with them? The program was a failure and it will be a failure again if CARB tries to implement it.

These stricter standards will apply to newer vehicles as well. Expect stricter standards for just about anything older than five model years. CARB wants to do this because it will increase the amount of older vehicles forced off the road without making CARB and the CA legislature address the controversial political issues of mandatory scrappage (ie: confiscation) of vehicles which are not considered by most California voters to be "old cars."

But wait....there's more. CARB wants an expansion of the "enhanced Smog Check" program to include more areas and to new vehicle types, such as diesels and all-wheel drive cars and trucks. It wants annual (versus the, current, every two years) testing of vehicles more than 15 years old (*that means everything older than 1989*). CARB wants the use of roadside remote-sensing devices, vastly expanded vehicle-scrappage programs and last, but certainly not least, our friends at CARB once again want to eliminate the 30-model-year rolling exemption from the Smog Check which is currently allowed for cars built prior to the 1975 model year.

SEMA presented formal comments which described the inherent flaws in these proposals and offered alternatives which would yield real, verifiable and cost-effective emissions reductions without causing unnecessary harm to vehicle hobbyists and low-income motorists.

At this point, it is unknown how SEMA's comments were taken by the CARB. I'm sure we'll hear more about this issue as 2004 goes on, but...mark my words....if even half of these proposals end up as law, some of those owning older Corvettes in California are going to be either be scrapping them, selling them out of state or donating them to museums and any of those choices are the objective of CARB and the environmentalists who control state government. Don't kid yourself, these people hate cars. They believe significant political capital will come the more of these regulations can be put in place. They believe continued and increasing regulation of motor vehicle emissions is easier to accomplish politically than regulation of industrial, utility or other non-vehicular sources of emissions.

Now some might say that the recent election of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will prevent this type of regulation getting very far. I say...don't be too complacent. Schwarzenegger is a fiscal conservative but a social and environmental moderate. He needs a ton of bargaining capital to trade with the liberal-controlled legislature if he wants to further his fiscal agenda. My guess is, those of these proposals which will not cost the state a great deal to put in place will be supported by Schwarzenegger so....if you don't like the idea of this significant change to California exhaust emissions law as it applies to older vehicles, NOW is the time to start writing the CARB, your state legislators and the Governor.

Lastly, those reading this outside California might be saying, "Oh this is just another one of Halverson's right-wing, alarmist posts about the Smog Check." Well...keep in mind that when it comes to motor vehicle emissions regulation which affects car enthusiasts, California sets the pace. Take a look at how many other states now test the emissions of older vehicles in the same manner as does CA? Take a look at how many other states want old cars off the road, as does CA.

02-07-04, 09:49 PM
HI there,
I agree with Hib here.
The plain and simple truth is that older more vintage cars hold less than 10% of all emissions problems in the entire country.
I cant tell you how many times I am approached by other car owners who just want to pass and are willing to falsify documentation to do it.
However, those vintage Corvette or other performance vehicles are in better shape and maintained better, and in 99% of the time, pass emissions standards set for the particular model year.
Just my .02 as a repair person.
Allthebest, c4c5:hb

02-08-04, 11:44 AM

02-08-04, 11:29 PM
Hib, it would appear as if you have an exposed nerve that got touched. I guess that my first question (and it will be the first issue that gets raised in any resulting litigation) is how does the CARB (and the Legislature) get to change a standard (the emission level that California set at the time of original manufacture) after the fact? The ability for the CARB to set new (more stringent) standards for new vehicles is quite well settled. Look at the latest opacity requirements for passenger car diesel engines - which is why no new passenger car diesels in California after the 2003 model year. I will give you another parallel - assault weapons. The Peoples Republic of California has the most stringent assault weapons ban on the books of any state. However, they could not confiscate assault weapons that were legally owned prior to the effective date of the assault weapons ban. Trust me, if the state could have confiscated assault weapons owned prior to the effective date of the ban, they would have.

It would appear that SEMA has laid a foundation for any future litigation in their comments to the proposed rule. Regarding remote sensing devices, unless someone finds a way to pay for the devices that is not sourced from the General Fund, it ain't going to happen - the state is too poor. The Governator is asking the voters to approve a bond initiative to bail out the budget deficit; at this point, the initiative seems to have at best a 50-50 chance of passage.

I do think that we will see more emphasis on purchase of older vehicles (scrappage) to take them off the road. That is actually an appropriate market-driven solution to the challenge of getting emissions from older (and less-maintained) "clunkers" out of the environment. Such an approach can shift the burden to the manufacturers (no cost to the state). If manufacturers are given a mandate that they can not sell new vehicles with V8 engines in the state unless an equal number of older vehicles with V8 engines are removed, the stage is set for a market-based solution that has worked in other sectors (this is basically an expansion of the emissions trading model that has been applied to industrial air emissions).

05-15-04, 01:30 AM
I am in awe of carb (in lower case just in case you didn't catch it) I have an old ford truck I use for work it ran like a clock, emissions beat a new truck but wait it did not have a egr.... why you ask because Ford did not put it on, but the carb fools made me put it on, it ran like S*** and put out lots of the bad stuff but it passed smog, now I live out of the smog control but still, sadly, in California. but at least I have really high gas prices to confort me. can't tell I don't really want to live in California, but at least we got rid of Davis, he cost me Thousands everytime he spoke.

any body know where reasonable people live? where the speed limits are high, drivers use their turn signals, carb (lower case again) is made out of car lovers. taxes are low, people work and wefare isn't given out, the guy next to you is a Citizen of this country..... where it rains only when you sleep....

05-16-04, 10:00 AM
I wonder how many of the CARB people drive SUVs and cars older than 5 years?

And of course it is easier to legislate against cars and private citizens than big industry. The owners of the cars don't donate millions of dollars to the political parties!

05-18-04, 03:26 PM
I hope that bill dosen't pass. It seems that what happens in California, will happen in Texas. At this time we have to get a safety and emission test, every year on vehicles that are between two and twenty five years old.