If you’re the kind of person who likes it when people turn their Cummins into a 4 wheeled train; it’s time to get out of California. As of July 19th, the California Bureau of Automotive Repair(BAR) will automatically flunk cars and trucks who have an illegal tune during smog testing. Because the state has absolutely no bigger problem to worry about.
Over the course of the past 6 years, BAR has been collecting information from smog testing in an effort to build up a profile, on which each car’s emissions test moving forward will be based. Such information includes VIN Number, Calibration ID(Cal ID, unique to each vehicle), Calibration Verification Number(CVN generated by the ECU whenever modification is made) and approved modification status as granted by a California Air and Resources Board(CARB) Executive Order.
This accumulated data is the basis upon which failure criteria will be determined. BAR expects that 5-10 vehicles will fail each day for illegally modified software, or 10,000 vehicles out of a million per month (an average of one percent). Disputed results will be referred to state-run Referee centers for further inspection.
SEMA Steps In
All this is not to say you can’t have a tune on your vehicle in California. Some ECU tunes have been approved already by CARB, in large part due to the work by SEMA. However, if you’re running a tune that the Board deems illegal, you could still be in the clear.
According to the BAR Smog Check FAQ “Before your vehicle will pass a Smog Check, you must have the vehicle’s software restored to the OEM or EO approved software version.” Meaning that if you flash your ECU back to stock, you’ll pass and then you can flash your ECU back to the tune you had on prior.
As the state with the strictest emissions laws get stricter, it’s any wonder why enthusiasts stay over on the West Coast. Maybe it’s the lack of salted roads, or the consistently nice weather, the scenic routes and highways, the lack of snow, or the easy water access for imports. Or maybe the lack of pothole repair truck swallowing potholes.
Either way, the niche hobby of tuning and aftermarket performance in California appears to be on its way out.