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Top 5 emissions compliance myths – what you need to know!

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emissions compliance

Diesel Exhaust Tip

Guest article written in conjunction with Edelbrock

Depending on where you live, adding aftermarket performance parts can become an emissions compliance maze. State and federal rules differ, and just because your modified truck passes emissions in one state, doesn’t mean it will if you move to another. 

So, we teamed up with Edelbrock, a leading manufacturer and distributor of aftermarket performance parts, to cut through the clutter and break down some of the more common myths associated with emission compliance. Here are the top 5:

Myth: The EPA and CARB won’t go after small “mom-and-pop” installation shops.

Fines for small shops have been issued for as little as $475 and as large as hundreds of thousands.

Myth: Declaring that a part is “Race-Only” (e.g. advertisement, label) is enough to evade emissions compliance.

EPA and CARB will ask the manufacturer or distributor for proof that there are enough race cars to use the parts that were sold.

Myth: “49 state legal” means that components can be sold in any state except California.

There are states that follow California emissions rules. All states have the option of following California emissions rules and can change status at will. A “49 state legal” emissions status doesn’t exist.

Even if the states don’t follow California rules, they must follow EPA rules.

Myth: Altering vehicle ride height, changing the drive axle ratio or changing wheel size on an emissions-controlled vehicle doesn’t affect emissions compliance.

Altering vehicle ride height, changing the drive axle ratio or changing wheel size is not allowed unless the configuration has an EO, or is EPA Legal in states that don’t follow California’s emissions rules.

CARB and EPA believe that by raising a vehicle, the frontal area of the vehicle increases and causes an increase to wind resistance, which may cause higher emissions.

CARB and EPA consider changes to the drive axle ratio or changes to the tire size may affect transmission shift points, which might cause higher emissions during the emissions test procedures.

Myth: Emissions compliance is not needed for vehicles older than 1976.

Although vehicles older than 1976 may not be emissions tested on a regular basis, emissions compliance is still required on pollution-controlled vehicles. Note that vehicles that were manufactured before emissions control regulations were imposed can run non-compliant parts. These vehicles are considered “uncontrolled vehicles.”

Uncontrolled vehicles are defined as:

  • 1965 older U.S. manufactured California Certified vehicles
  • 1966 1967 and older U.S. manufactured Federally Certified vehicles
  • 1967 1967 and older foreign manufactured vehicles

For more information to help determine which Edelbrock components are legal for use on a vehicle, go to https://www.edelbrock.com/emissions-guide.

About Edelbrock’s emission compliance program:

In the 1970s Edelbrock established an emissions lab at its El Segundo location, which was used to demonstrate to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) that aftermarket performance parts didn’t negatively affect emissions. Partnered with SEMA, the Edelbrock emissions lab demonstrated that others in the industry also met the required emissions performance.

In the 1990s Edelbrock invested in upgrading its emissions testing capabilities and established a CARB recognized emissions lab in the new Torrance facility.  The laboratory requirements increased over the years, which drove the need for an external dedicated emissions testing facility. Edelbrock worked with SEMA at their emissions lab in Diamond Bar California, becoming its first customer, and has continued its support ever since.

Today Edelbrock’s/COMP’s emission compliance program is led by a highly skilled Director of Compliance & Calibration Engineering.  The director and his team are responsible for, among other things, Powertrain Calibration Engineering and Regulatory Affairs, combining multidisciplinary engineering skills, regulatory compliance expertise, and project management for automotive powertrain projects.  This team is highly trained and advises Edelbrock’s/COMP’s executives on the regulatory aspects and the regulatory climate that would affect corporate direction, warranty requirements, and business development.

Edelbrock/COMP takes emissions compliance seriously to protect their customers, installers, and distributors. The company’s decades of experience in systems engineering, performance, emissions, and diagnostics enable them to provide high-performance powertrains that are fun, very fast, extremely durable, and still emissions compliant. Although CARB is known to have the toughest emissions standards in the nation, they do issue Executive Orders (EO’s) that allow modifications of emissions-controlled automobiles.  Edelbrock/COMP together have 208 EOs – the most of any aftermarket performance parts company – with more on the way.


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