It is illegal and prohibited in the state of California to select or install a catalytic converter based on the vehicle weight, physical shapes, engine size, configuration or the pipe diameter. Effective January 2009 and according to the California Vehicle Law Code, the manufacturers, resellers and installers of the aftermarket catalytic converters have to follow certain instructions while they sell, manufacture or resell the aftermarket catalytic converters. The following are the instructions on what type of converters are currently legal in California.
If it is a new OE or an Original Equipment converter, it is a California legal catalytic converter which means it is currently legal to use this converter in the state.
The new aftermarket converters are legal for use in the state only if the converter model is exempted by ARB.
The certified used OE converters are legal for use only if the converter is tested and approved for a resale by the ARB authorized business.
The used aftermarket converters or the uncertified used OE converters are not legal for use in the state of California.
A list of approved aftermarket converters are mentioned on the ARB website. Any kind of ARB exemptions are only issued through the Executive Orders. These orders can be sorted by an Executive Order number or by the Converter manufacturer only for the pre-OBD II or OBD II converters. The aftermarket converters that are sold after January 2009 would have the ARB Executive Order Number on the converter shell.
One should always consult a converter manufacturer’s catalog so as to verify the catalytic converter model. This has to fit the specific vehicle application and should be approved to be used in the state of California. The certified used OE converters are tested for their current level of performance and how it can perform in future. The test again is conducted by the ARB authorized business. Cosmetic refurbishing, replacement of flanges or end pipes, polishing the converter’s shell and the like are legal.
The California legal catalytic converters in Non-OBD II vehicles – installation of these converters are approved only if they fall under the below categories:
Passenger cars that have dual or single exhaust systems with just one catalytic converter.
Medium duty or light duty trucks with dual or single exhaust systems with just one catalytic converter.
Passenger cars with dual or single exhaust systems with one, two or more than two catalytic converters.
Medium duty trucks or light duty trucks with single or two exhaust systems with one, two or more than two catalytic converters.
A single configuration is for vehicles that come with a configuration of a single OEM catalytic converter per exhaust bank. The dual configuration is for vehicles that come with a configuration of OEM converters with two or more than two converters per exhaust bank. The California legal catalytic converter should have clear labels with ARB EO Number, Part Number, Date Code, Directional Flow Arrow, half inch tall numbers and the label should be visible from a five feet distance.
Catalytic converters are normally installed in the exhaust system of internal combustion engines. These converters are made up of a ceramic honeycomb interior that also includes two or three catalysts. It is through this that the engine exhaust gases flow and gets converted into less toxic emissions.
The catalytic converter is fitted to the exhaust system, between the engine and the muffler. It helps in converting the gas emissions from the exhaust system into more tolerable gases.
Vehicle emission requirements are more stringent in California than in most other states in the country. As catalytic converters are a part of your vehicle’s exhaust system and help in controlling emissions, the California authorities have some special requirements for the installation or replacement of catalytic converters.
As per the catalytic converter California legal framework, all vehicles that are registered in the state should be equipped with catalytic converters in order to reduce vehicle emissions and pollution levels. Even under the Federal law removal and replacement of a perfectly functioning converter is an offence. Legally speaking, your existing catalytic converter must be replaced with a brand new catalytic converter that meets all the guidelines laid down by the catalytic converter California legal framework.
Removal and replacement of catalytic converters have certain legal implications in California since the law is quite strict with regards to automobile exhaust and emissions. In fact the California Air Resources Board has put in place certain laws in addition to the existing ones. These laws refer to the sale and installation of catalytic converters in California.
According to the California ARB laws, any catalytic converter that is either sold or installed in California should be tested and approved or officially exempted by the California Air Resources Board. Further, sale and installation of used catalytic converters are not permitted as per the law.
According to the California catalytic converter legal framework if you want to remove or replace a catalytic converter legally, you will have to follow certain processes and not attempt to remove, replace or install on your own.
Even the federal Environmental Protection Agency has issued certain guidelines that enable the regulation of legal processes with regards to the removal, replacement and installation of catalytic converters. These guidelines were introduced to address the construction, installation and efficiency of catalytic converters in the country.
According to the EPA guidelines replacement of a catalytic converter is possible only under certain circumstances like, when the catalytic converter is missing from the vehicle or if it has failed local or state emission tests. You can also replace it if there is a problem with the existing converter or if your vehicle has exceeded certain mileage and is not covered under the manufacturer warranty.
Finally, do not attempt to make any changes without your automobile mechanic. Otherwise, you may end up paying a hefty fine. Look for an automobile mechanic who is an expert in mufflers and exhaust systems and also knows the legal requirements. This will make the entire replacement process easy.
As a mandatory requirement set by California State Law, all vehicles plying on the roads of the state must have California legal catalytic converters fitted into them. This state in the United States of America has been diagnosed with severe air pollution issues and therefore all motor vehicles here need to conform strictly to the state emission laws fixed for public and environmental health and welfare. Only those vehicles which are passed as “Emission equipped vehicles”, conforming to legal standards are expected to qualify for the CARB smog test and meet the requirements posed as mandatory. Some commonly asked questions regarding this are answered here -
What is CARB?
CARB is the acronym for California Air Resources Board and is a governmental agency in the state which actively helps in eliminating air pollutants from the environment, thus playing a pivotal role in protecting/ promoting public health and welfare and maintaining ecological balance. This leading organization has taken up the responsibility of implementing stringent vehicle emission requirements in the state, overseeing the use of emission control equipments in automotives and conducting the bi-yearly mandatory smog check-up tests for motor vehicles. Vehicles which fulfill the criterions set by it are projected to be equipped with fitting and legal emission devices for reducing environmental pollution.
What are California legal catalytic converters?
In California, it is illegal to replace any emission equipment in a vehicle without it being exempted by CARB. For instance, an emission control device like a catalytic converter is a mandatory requirement for every motor vehicle running on the state road. All vehicles, during the time of manufacture, are fitted with a stock-produced catalytic converter by the manufacturer, which conforms to legal state emission levels set by CARB. It is only after this product gets damaged, does a car user look for a replacement and it is here that CARB strictly insists on the use of California legal catalytic converters.
Are California Aftermarket converters legal for use?
Although aftermarket products can be equally good and sometimes being replaced with one does not have any significant effect on the emission of a car (can even pass the smog check), it can still be illegal if it is a non-exempt product. This precisely means that one can use an aftermarket converter if it has been submitted for lab-testing from the CARB and obtained an exemption certificate from the agency confirming that it is safe for use. Such a part will always have an Executive Order No. tagged to it, the application status of which can be checked at the CARB website. Check here for more info about Aftermarket Catalytic Converters.
Which is the best one?
California Magnaflow catalytic converters are CARB approved and are the most commonly used emission control devices that are fitted into internal combustion units for legal emission control. Apart from motor vehicles, these California legal catalytic converters are also fitted into generators, mining equipments and forklifts.
Vehicle owners in California therefore must take special care to check the authenticity and legality of replacement California catalytic converters before buying them from dealers and installing them into the combustion units of machines or vehicles.
California has introduced new laws for exhaust systems. Initially exhausts were bought for vehicles depending on the engine and auto weight, size, etc. With the latest changes, there are many things to be considered before installing an exhaust system. Amongst the best California exhaust systems, Magnaflow continues to be at the top with the best products and competitive prices.
A brief overview of the changes in laws:
For people who are using aftermarket exhaust parts on their vehicles, heavy penalties are being charged. The noise levels coming out of vehicles should be within the set limits. A muffler is known to decrease the engine power and hence, those who want speed usually remove the mufflers from their vehicles. This is no longer acceptable. An exhaust system should not be modified as per the owner’s choice and should follow all requirements as per the law.
What is the function of an exhaust system?
Air and fuel are required for any engine to run. When these two come together, combustion takes place in an engine due to the high temperature. As a result, many gases and high levels of noise are produced. An exhaust system helps in removing these from the engine through a series of tubes and pipes into the atmosphere.
There are 5 different types of exhaust system and these are as follows:
Single exit pipe
This is the most common exhaust used in vehicles. This consists of only one exhaust pipe and can be bought easily from any manufacturer. Because of its simple design, it is the cheapest and the exit is generally towards the passenger side.
Dual rear exit
Those who want a trendy appearance go for this type of exhaust. There are two exhaust pipes at the opposite ends of the vehicle rear. They are more effective in releasing gases. The tubes do not bend about the wheels.
Opposite dual exit
Unlike the second one, these tubes are wrapped around the 2 back wheels and are more effective in their filtering process. These are typically used for huge vehicles used for towing. They can work very effectively under certain conditions.
Dual side exit
As the name suggests, the two exhaust pipes are fixed side by side. These are more efficient in expelling the gases out of the engines. The pipes are smaller in size than the single exhausts and are priced higher than the other three.
These are the most expensive exhaust systems of all. They are even the most efficient of all types. These are usually custom made and sometimes increase the engine power. The exhaust pipes are wider and therefore reduce the back pressure in the engine. However, they do not enhance the appearance and people who want their pipes to look good, this is not an ideal choice. Check here for more info about Magnaflow Extension Pipes.
Magnaflow produces California exhaust systems which follow all the legal requirements and even have a huge variety to choose from. Contact them for all your exhaust requirements.