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CA smog is out to get us

5 December 2013
Let me start off by saying that CARB, (California Air Resources Board) is on a rampage against us. No one is concerned until it happens to them. I don’t know what we can do to make smog testing our cars fair and honest. CARB is certainly not playing fair.

My story starts with failing my smog test, not because my basically stock 1991 NSX is running poorly, it is running fantastic, but because CARB keeps lowering the allowable PPM threshold numbers. Yes, I got my cats hot before each test.

Back in 1999 the max CARB threshold numbers were:
Lo speed 15mph HC 138 CO .73 NOx 1982
Hi speed 25mph HC 88 CO .61 NOx 1782
Current max numbers at time of test (Nov of 2013)
Lo speed 15mph HC 80 CO .52 NOx 549
Hi speed 25mph HC 62 CO .61 NOx 507

You can see how the numbers have dropped, especially the NOx numbers and the gross polluter level is below what was a passing level 12 years ago.
Forum user mrbythatmuch created a good thread http://www.nsxprime.com/forum/showthread.php/150753-91-NSX-Manual-Smog-Limits-Changed that shows how the 1991 manual transmission NSX has lower threshold numbers than an 1991 auto or a 1992. Excuse me, how does that make sense. Oh, I forgot we are talking about the government.

In my case I failed on the low speed NOx test, all other tests passed easily including high speed NOx test. My car would have passed if it was an auto or a 1992. Do a study on why a car fails a NOx test and you will see that it will include the EGR system, which lowers combustion chamber temps and lowers NOx. But wait, My car failed low speed but passed high speed. So it sounds that the EGR is working. I went ahead and had Jerry @ Greenlight run some magic formula thru the EGR and intake to clean things up. The result was no improvement in the next smog test. So the next thing I did was replace the spark plugs and the O2 sensors. I went and retested and failed again with no improvement. Feeling discouraged and not wanting to go thru the expense of replacing the catalytic converters I started to analyze. Also, the smog tech stated that he thought the cats were doing their job by looking at the numbers. I started looking up zip codes in San Diego county that have different smog requirements http://smogcheck.ca.gov/pubwebquery/Ziparea/ZipLookup.aspx. I live in an ENHANCED area which most people do. I have friends in the BASIC area which is a static test and not a dyno test. I needed someone in the CHANGE OF OWNERSHIP area so I would never have to smog the NSX again.

During the second test I observed the smog tech running the 15 mph test in 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] gear. I later asked him why. He stated that CARB requires him to use 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] gear. That is insane, that is only 1500 rpm. This engine is not designed to operate at that level. I asked if he could do it in 1[SUP]st[/SUP] gear. He stated that CARB audits his results and data weekly and the fines are huge, so no. He was definitely nervous of BIG BROTHER watching him. This made me start to think, I need to find a smog test place that would allow me to test in 1[SUP]st[/SUP] gear, highly recommended concept. I wanted to see if I played around with placing a vacuum on the EGR valve how it functioned and saw that the car won’t run with the EGR open at low rpms. This made me start to think, at what rpm will the car open the EGR enough to pass. I knew that the 25mph test was at 2500 rpm and the NOx levels were at 415, a passing number. So I needed the engine rpm to be above 1500 and somewhere below 2500. How do I get the rpms up during a test, then it hit me. The NSX has smaller tires on the front than the rear. So I installed my old set of fronts on the rear of my car, pumped up the tire pressure to 40 psi which lowers rolling resistance. I also manually cleaned the EGR ports that go into the intake manifold by removing the rectangular plastic Honda piece in the top middle of the engine and removed the plate under it exposing the EGR ports and tried to clean up gunk in the ports, there was some and headed to the smog place. I should add that when driving the car with front tires on the rear you have to turn off the traction control, otherwise the TCS system keeps activating. Guess what, it passed with a low speed NOx level of 411 ppm, rpm was 1660. I increased the rpm by 10% which lowered the NOx level by 300ppm.

So my take away from this is the state of California is trying their best to get older cars off the road by imposing stricter and stricter requirements while creating a testing environment that makes it increasing more difficult to pass. Also, save your old 91 rims, they are a life saver. Cars with a 6 speed or different gearing may have an rpm range that will help them thru this stupid exercise.
During the second test I observed the smog tech running the 15 mph test in 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] gear. I later asked him why. He stated that CARB requires him to use 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] gear. That is insane, that is only 1500 rpm. This engine is not designed to operate at that level. I asked if he could do it in 1[SUP]st[/SUP] gear. He stated that CARB audits his results and data weekly and the fines are huge, so no. He was definitely nervous of BIG BROTHER watching him.

Here's a copy of the draft of the 2013 Smog Check Manual. Section 1.2.1 states that the tests shall be conducted in 2nd gear, unless the EIS system states to change it to maintain a certain RPM.
http://www.bar.ca.gov/80_BARResourc...atoryActions/Draft Smog Check Manual 2013.pdf

I thought I read somewhere that the smog limits are influenced by averaging smog results from the car (model & year) across the state. That lead me to believe that a lot of 1991s have had work done to either bring their cars up to like new performance, or they were paying people off to put brand new Honda Civics on the rollers and using their tailpipes. But I have not found any additional information to back up that theory...
Gotta do the classic workaround: Oregon or Arizona plates.

Doesn't work if you produce a CA driver's license when you get pulled over - then you're in deep shit.

Better to get a UPS store box in one of the counties in the state that only requires the car to re-test when it's being transferred to a new owner (rather than every two years regardless of ownership).
Do what I did:

Installed the BIGGEST OBD2 cats from magnaflow on your NSX. After I did that the results (on a built and not CARB legal SOS SC) were awesome - u can practically suck on the tail pipe.

I didn't even have to run Clean Power in the fuel to cheat.

Yo Alain...........can I borrow those cats? Your not using them all the time right?
So you didnt actually use OBD2 cats...........you used OBD1? Whats the difference between OBD1 and OBD2 and how is OBD1 different then the OEM ones? And why are you welding your cats to your exhaust??
You can always register the car in Montana (as a bunch of people with supercars in CA do). No emissions at all. I have heard of some *Allegedly* running test pipes and never being caught or even bothered... Most cops won't even look under the cars here, or ever that I've heard of.

I ran my K swapped Civic Header->race muffler->90° dump under the car. It was loud, but knowing I was going to turbo it, I didn't want to bother with a full exhaust. Passed hundreds of police and not one ever looked twice. Up here if you're driving a dangerous turd you're going to get harassed well before someone who is driving a nice looking road worthy car....

side note - I have like 10 cars registered to my address, 5 of which are in others' names because they don't want to deal with emissions in their states. Not one has ever had a problem when being stopped, but none of them live in California either.
I love Florida you can drive a turkey bus with no headers or cats, straight black smog trailing behind the car for miles if you breath it you almost pass out

we stopped smog testing in the 90's I think.

you can drive what ever you want, do anything to the car you want, as long as it can stop, and has headlights and taillights your good to go.

and you can drive all year long with the top down LOL
Damn, such a hassal. Should make some shady deals, I didnt even have to get off the couch to get mine smoged. Suck it CARB.
Mike. How could you. You should be more honest like the rest of us. I'd never cheat the system......
IN MT the women push you off the cliff shortly after marriage.....

Hey, there's a crazy one in every crowd ;)

And Yeah, most of my friends who register their vehicles at my house are doing so typically for tax reasons. We have no sales tax here, just a state income tax, that by and far is much less than a sales tax would be throughout the year.

Speaking of taxes, it's almost that time of the year. Woohooo! (I pay in so damn much I'll probably see 15K or so back this year. Debt = paid off, and then time to buy parts!
OP came out of nowhere and posted the loud blurb twice on the forum then disappeared.
Gotta do the classic workaround: Oregon or Arizona plates.

This should work if you actually own property in one of those states. I got stopped in Nevada once when doing consulting work. Highway patrol pulled me over and gave me three tickets, one for not having Nevada tags and another for no Nevada drivers license. I told him I was an out of state consultant. He didn't care and gave me the tickets anyway. I showed the judge my California jury summons and he threw all the tickets out.
Thanks for the info Bruce. I have a 1994 Honda Del Sol that has also had the smog allowables dropped (I keep all my old smog test results) they have cut the allowables in half over the years. When I first got the car it passed the smog test easily with what turned out to be a gutted catalytic converter, now it will barely pass even with a fresh engine with a brand new, well warmed up converter.
All of us car guys in California need to find a way to get together and fight this CARB nonsense! It's sad that we speak of the government as an entity that is not us these days.