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Frequently Asked Questions

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Vehicles certified to the PZEV emission standard are the cleanest combustion vehicles sold in California. But in order to qualify for incentives such as single-occupant carpool access or HOV lane stickers, the vehicle must be PZEV certified AND have a minimum of 12 miles of ZEV or all-electric range powered by an on-board battery charged from grid-supplied energy. These types of vehicles are typically called “Plug-In Hybrid” vehicles.

For a complete list of these and other qualifying vehicles please visit our website at: https://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/carpool/carpool.htm

 

Any vehicle registered in California may be converted to a 100% electric drive, as long as all power is supplied by on-board batteries. All combustion and fuel system components must be removed prior to inspection by a California Bureau of Automotive Repairs Referee station. The vehicle must arrive at the inspection site under its own power, and the referee will also visually inspect to ensure that the vehicle has adequate battery storage capacity for 100% electric operation. Once the inspection is complete, the referee will sign a DMV "statement of Facts" form so that the vehicle can be registered as an EV and removed from the periodic smog inspection program. The statement of fact form is returned to the California department of motor vehicles. To schedule an appointment with California Bureau of Automotive Repairs Referee station, please call (800) 622-7733.

Important Notes

Individually converted vehicles do not qualify for any incentive programs for Certified Zero Emissions Vehicles, including HOV stickers. 

At this time, conversion to 100% electric power does not replace requirements for Direct Import or non-USA vehicle compliance laboratory testing. These requirements apply to vehicles originally sold outside the United States and the required modification and testing typically exceeds the value of the vehicle to complete.

Download the California Bureau of Automotive Repairs Official California engine change policy documentation.

Vehicle manufacturers are required to contact car owners whenever there is a recall repair required for their vehicle. If the manufacturer is unable to contact the owner directly, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will notify the owner to contact any their dealerships for a free recall repair.

Once the repair is performed, the dealership will issue a "Proof of Correction" document to the vehicle owner to return to the DMV so that the registration can be renewed.

All questions regarding the recall repair, such as what it entails and how long it will take, should be addressed by the dealership service staff. Please contact your local dealer for an appointment and any questions you have regarding the service.

If there are problems where the dealership cannot perform the required service, please contact the CARB at (800) 242-4450.

Vehicles first sold, or vehicles intended for sale by their manufacturers outside the United States are called NON-USA or "Grey Market" cars. Greymarket cars are typically not able to be used or registered in California. The following information lists the minimum requirements to register a greymarket car in California:

If the Model Year of the vehicle is:

1967 and older: no modifications and testing are required to register the vehicle in California.

1968 to 1974: California does not recommend the purchase or importation of these years of NON-USA vehicles, even if currently registered in another state. These vehicles require compliance with USEPA requirements in effect on the specific date of 11/15/1972. This provision when written, was considered by the California legislature as a gradual phase-out of very dirty "non-collectable" types of imports, as this specific requirement was understood to become increasingly difficult to meet. Today, this requirement, while not impossible to meet, would require testing expenses and modifications that far exceed most vehicles value and would make little sense from a collectors standpoint to attempt. Some limited exemptions apply to individuals moving to California with vehicles of these years registered in their home state for at least a year before moving to California. Contact us for more information.

1975 and newer BUT greater than 2 years from the date of production: These vehicles require a "Certificate of Conformance" issued by the ARB after a successful laboratory test. This test is administered to the same standards required of new vehicle manufacturers, and for the model year of the vehicle . However, unlike new vehicle manufacturers, as an individual you are not required to meet the full range of additional testing and equipment standards such as On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) requirements, durability testing, low emission fleet averaging, or Zero Emissions Vehicle testing (LEV and ZEV requirements). So while these standards reference what a manufacturer must do, when required by the Direct Import requirements they apply to individuals importing a used motor vehicle. Some limited exemptions apply to individuals moving to California with vehicles of these years registered in their home state for at least a year before moving to California.

Important note regarding NEW greymarket vehicles: any greymarket vehicle obtained by a California resident within two years of its date of production or any greymarket vehicle entering California within two years of its date of production are considered NEW vehicles and are forever prohibited from registration in California. No modifications on NEW vehicles are permitted.

General information regarding non-USA market vehicles: Grey Market vehicle regulations, like the new vehicle certification standards they are based on, are a performance standard and do not have specific equipment requirements. Whatever equipment the vehicle owner or vehicle modifier choose to make the vehicle pass the laboratory test, these will be the equipment requirements for all future inspections. In addition this means all vehicle and engine technologies are subject to the same standard. All fuels, all engine sizes, displacements, no. of cylinders, engine types and designs, even electric and hybrid vehicles must prove compliance by laboratory testing. Unlike California's basic Smog Check program, the Direct Import program does not have exemptions other than the original 1967 model year and older exclusion outlined above. And as a final note, these regulations only apply to passenger cars and light-duty trucks. Motorcycles and heavy-duty engines (used in trucks and buses) are required to comply with CA or USEPA from the date of manufacturer, no after-the-fact modification is permitted for products first sold outside the US market.

REFERENCE| California Code of Regulation Title 13: https://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/onroad/cert/ldctp/udi.pdf

Exemptions

Diesel vehicles:

1979 model year and older vehicles with original-equipment diesel engines are exempt from Direct Import lab testing requirements. Please note that any vehicle converted to operate on diesel fuel is subject to lab testing requirements if it is a 1968 model year vehicle or newer.

How to tell if a vehicle was made for the USA or California Market

All vehicles sold in the United States have a unique drive-train identifier called the "Test Group" or "Engine Family Number". This number allows owners, parts suppliers, and service providers to determine specifications and installed emissions control equipment of motor vehicles. Because many vehicles may have several different configurations, this number will provide specific information about the emissions control system and exact standards that a vehicle was designed to meet.

The Vehicle Emission Control Information label is located in the engine compartment in a clearly visible position, most often directly on the underside of the hood. The following diagram can help you locate your vehicles label.

Diagram of location of vehicle emissions label

 

All vehicles sold in the United States have a unique drive-train identifier called the "Test Group" or "Engine Family Number". This number allows owners, parts suppliers, and service providers to determine specifications and installed emissions control equipment of motor vehicles. Because many vehicles may have several different configurations, this number will provide specific information about the emissions control system and exact standards that a vehicle was designed to meet.

The Vehicle Emission Control Information label is located in the engine compartment in a clearly visible position, most often directly on the underside of the hood. The following diagram can help you locate your vehicles label.

Diagram of location of vehicle emissions label

 

LINK: https://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/consumer_info/testgroup_efn.htm

Glossary

Have you ever wondered what a baghouse is or what NMOG stands for?