California: Car Enthusiasts Not Welcome

To be a car enthusiast in 2013 is to be part of an ever increasing minority. Al Gore and tree hugging environmentalists would have you believe that our planet is a ticking time bomb on the verge of another Ice Age and it’s all our fault. What the environmentalists fail to mention, is that the process of constructing a hybrid car battery is far more damaging to the planet than your average family sedan and much of the climate changes are part of an aging sun that’s burning hotter and hotter.

What the emissions debate is really about is finding more ways to generate money. Lets face it, California is in debt and despite the state’s overwhelming population, its economy is in the tank and unemployment remains high. Without making this too much of a political debate, consider that by 2025, 1 in 7 cars sold in California must be an EV or other zero-emissions vehicle. That same year, the state hopes to have 1.4 million electric and hybrid cars on its roads, a 75% reduction in smog-forming pollutants and a 50% reduction in green house gas emissions. Still think passing your next smog test is as simple as installing a cat?

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In 2013, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) imposed new smog testing regulations and machinery. For people who modify their cars it means more poking around in the engine bay and under the car. Don’t have a CARB sticker for that catback from Japan? Good luck. Gone are the days where just a stock downpipe is the only thing separating you and a new registration sticker. Smog check facilities are becoming more educated on what to look for and stricter than ever. New machinery uses an exhaust’s back pressure to begin a reading. Like many of you, I thought passing smog would be fairly straight forward like in years past. I converted my WRX back to stock with the exception of my 3″ catback. The car has passed 2 other times with the same setup, however this time the catback prohibited the new machinery from getting a reading. After repeated attempts where the technician went so far as to plug the exhaust tip with shop rags, my WRX failed testing. Keep in mind the rest of the car’s exhaust was factory stock.

Unless you happen to have a smog hookup, which is about as easy to find as a winning lottery ticket or more cash than Scrooge McDuck, you will likely have to take apart your entire project car. That same car you spent countless hours putting together in the first place. The state of California is making it harder and harder to be a car enthusiast which is a great irony, considering just how big car culture is here.

Things are only going to get worse in the years to come. Other states are using California as an example for the types of emissions regulations and testing they hope to implement in the future. It’s only a matter of time before every household is required to own at least one EV or hybrid…

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2 comments

  1. Thanks for bringing this issue into light, wish more car bloggers brought awareness to this situation. Unfortunately enthusiasts in this state does not have a organization to back them and lobby state law makers. SEMA was supposed to be the leader for the car culture but seems like they are much more interested in putting on shows in other states. Until we all unify under a single organization and fight back we will continue to lose our freedom to enjoy our vehicles.

  2. if you think it’s bad now, it’s only going to get worse. 2025 CAFE mandates fleet average of 54.5 MPG. The only way this is possible is with some sort of electrified propulsion, whether it be hybrid/pure EV. So not only will performance cars have to raise their MPG efficiency, they must sell a full EV for every performance car to offset the average. On top of which, CARB is clamping down on emissions.

    Normally, I’d say “Screw California, they don’t deserve cars” and not bother selling cars there, but 1, the market is too big to ignore, 2, the EPA just follows in CARB’s footsteps so without meeting CARB standards, you can’t sell cars in the US, period. Plus, with the way carbon credits work, non-luxury marques/small car makers can’t make a profit without meeting those standards because they don’t have enough margin built in to vehicle sales to pay the carbon taxes and still sell cars.

    For boutique makes, not a problem, they can just stop selling cars in the US and China will eventually absorb the sales. For major manufacturers, with globalization of models this means the performance cars as we know them will seize to exist.

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