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Info on California Engine Swaps (BAR):


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#1 Tim240z

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Posted 14 April 2005 - 01:25 PM

I had a long conversation with a Technical Advisor at the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) regarding some of the finer points of engine swaps. This is what I came up with:

Vehicle family Rule:
Engine must come from a vehicle from the same family, ie. light duty to light duty, medium and heavy duty to same. What surprised me was the family range. Everything from a mini to a 1 ton truck is considered light duty, and engines can be interchanged. Everything greater than 1 ton pickup is considered med/heavy duty and thus cannot be used as a donor into a car.

Catalytic Converters:
CATs are not required to be installed on vehicles that did not come with them installed from the factory.
Kicker: OBDII donor vehicles have post CAT O2 sensors. These cannot be disabled in any way. Without the CATs, the PCM will throw a code, thus creating an issue with the conversion. So, although the CATs themselves are not required, if the Donor vehicle is OBDII, then by proxy, they are required.

Misc. Emissions controls:
EVERY piece of emissions package is required from the donor vehicle. That would include fuel tank (to include fuel pressure sensor), evaporative canister and all lines from and to the tank.

Referee inspection:
Pre-75 vehicles (vehicles not requiring smog tests) do not have to be referee certified. However, CHP (or any law enforcement officer, I suppose) can write you an emissions citation, which would need a visit to the referee to sign off to cancel the citation (fixit ticket). Apparently, the State is actively looking at modified vehicles for emissions violations (roadside checkpoints as mentioned previously)

Well...that should answer about everything.......

#2 strotter

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Posted 14 April 2005 - 04:25 PM

So lemme get this straight about the cats on OBDII donor vehicles - is it that the converters need to be there to prevent the code (user inconvenience) or because the state wants it *because* it's throwing the code? That is, if I can live with the code, can the state live with the swap?
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#3 Tim240z

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Posted 14 April 2005 - 04:50 PM

No...if the PCM is throwing an emissions based code, then something is wrong.

Something wrong with emissions=CA no likey

#4 randy 77zt

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Posted 14 April 2005 - 05:52 PM

obd11 vehicles have o2 sensors behind the cats-their function is to monitor cat efficiency.the ecm throws codes if the rear(cat montor o2's) dont put out the proper readings that are expected by the software in the ecm.since i was a ford dealer tech and have a california smog license i know enough to put a obd11 motor in a z.but do i want to go through that much work-no.my 77 has a swap sticker in the door-but it sucks because it keeps getting sent to test only stations.car is registered in different county in the sierras now.but this trick probably wont work for long.

#5 materchan

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Posted 14 April 2005 - 08:56 PM

ok who lives out of ca, that wants to let me regester my car at your address.
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#6 Owen

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Posted 15 April 2005 - 09:11 AM

Good info on the refree station thing which I never did!

Now, where is all that info written? Codes, etc. word of mouth is fine, but I want hard evidence just in case.

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#7 Tim240z

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Posted 15 April 2005 - 09:12 AM

It is all in the California Vehicle Code, the California Health and Safety Code, and the Highway Code (in that order).

#8 Phantom

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Posted 15 April 2005 - 12:08 PM

I'm a bit confused still about the catalytic converter requirement because of the OBDII. My 280Z, admittedly registered in Texas, did not come with catalytic converters which were on the '98 Z28 Camaro donor car. I did not install catalytic converters but had the ECM edited to eliminate the post cat 02 sensors. When I had an OBDII test performed it didn't "throw a code". Doesn't that indicate that you could just edit the ECM?

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#9 Tim240z

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Posted 15 April 2005 - 12:12 PM

It is illegal to ever-ride, disable, or screw with emissions controls in any way. Editting the PCM would be considered tampering....big no-no in CA. Now I guess you could install the O2 sensors and edit the PCM, and just have the sensors in there as dummies, but you would still need to have the CATs in there for the visual, which then begs the question "Why disable the sensors if everything necessary for the system to work is present"?
I asked that specific question, "Can't I edit the PCM, or buy O2 sensor simulators".....absolutely not.
Tim

#10 preith

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Posted 19 April 2005 - 08:37 AM

There are a lot of "what ifs", but in regards to the O2 sensor fiasco, what if you have a pre-75 car and you tell them that your engine is not and OBDII even thought it is? If it's anything like around here, most aren't exactly technically proficient. Is a CHP officer really going to have the knowledge of an ASE certified mechanic? How would they know? How can they enforce something like that?

#11 Tim240z

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Posted 19 April 2005 - 08:40 AM

The CHP doesn't have to 'KNOW'. All he needs is a suspicion that the engine is not original, and he sends you to a Referee. The Referees, from what I hear, are VERY astute.

#12 waynekarnes

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Posted 21 April 2005 - 10:07 PM

you are correct sir.

they are very very very knowledgable ...

i had to take my manx down there, it was from texas ... california dmv refused to recognize the texas title. sent me to referee ... i had to pull the 1600 dual port and put the 1200 back in it ( they were still smogging back to 1955 then ). told me because of the engine size, the down draft tube was still legal, but the mechanical dist had to go. he looked the other way, on the full mechanical dizzy, and modified carb, open element air cleaner. let me hang around a bit, while he checked an engine swap in a vette and a mustang with a big block chevy in it.

my cousin recently swapped a big block truck engine into an s-10 ( i have not seen it, he lives in oakdale ca.) it's smog legal ... think he said he ran it through the ref station 3 times, before they signed it off. said they were real nice and helpful ... not just, sorry you suck, go home and come back when you have it corrected. they told him what to do to make it right, gave him pointers, where he might find the parts and what he could and couldn't modify.

of course, he had not "tampered" with any smog devises and he went in, wanting to do it correctly.

and not that it matters, he rides one of those boss hogs ... motorcycle with a 450 hp chevy 350 V8. if you were at the hollister motorcycle meet, last year, you may have seen him, he won the burn out contest. i told him, thought he was silly, wasting a tire that way, think he said the tire was somewhere around 180 dollars.

anyway, the refs are smart and as long as you aren't a jerk, most of em are more than willing to share what ever info they have to make your swap legal.
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#13 Pop N Wood

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Posted 25 April 2005 - 06:42 AM

When I researched O2 simulators, one board claimed installing a spacer (a taller bung) on the second set of O2 sensors so it doesn't full insert into the exhaust stream will satisfy the PCM logic. The computer thinks the oxygen is at a different level because the voltage output is different from the front set (or so I suppose)

If this works, then no cats are needed and the PCM can be left intact.

Could this be a work around?

Another thing to worry about is ABS sensors. Some cars use the ABS sensor to detect a "rough road condition". If you don't have the ABS sensors, then you are in the same mess as the second O2 sensors. The correct fix is to modify the computer to ignore the no ABS input, which is illegal. One member had his complete LS1 swap rejected because of this.

And people wonder why I am still considering a pre 96 LT1 swap.

#14 randy 77zt

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Posted 26 April 2005 - 11:43 PM

i think mostly this post is about installing a newer engine in a pre 75 car and the fact that even though the car doesnt need a biannual inspection the car legally still has to have the correct smog equipment for the engine that is installed in the car.the refs wont require a car that didnt originally have cats to have them installed because the floor of the car wont take the heat.they would probably overlook some 02 simulators in this case as long as the ecm didnt throw codes.as far as abs inputs you could input the same signal for all wheels from 1 speed sensor-and that could run off of a rear half shaft.an example-76 z with obd2 ls1 chevy.you would use 1 cat under oem heat shield.but it could be a 3.5" cat that could be used as a muffler.you would mount both banks of cat monitor 02s behind the single cat.it wont throw codes.the hardest part of swap would be the gas tank purge system.but most cars just have a flow sensor and purge valve that is in the purge line between the tank and the engine.if the ecm detects a leak in the system it will throw a code.you really wanted to fix all the leaks in the old z car evap system didnt you?the obd2 system will detect very small evap system leaks.most of this is just knowing how the systems work and how to make it work with out throwing codes.

#15 b__sosick

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Posted 26 June 2005 - 07:12 AM

I love florida and our completely non restrictive laws on emmisions. :]
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#16 Gollum

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Posted 02 November 2005 - 11:30 AM

I'd like to add a small piece of info to this.

Although tim was right in the fact that you don't have to take your car to the ref for a swap into a 75 or older vehicle (legally) the state promotes you to. And here's the real key. If you take your newly swapped engine to the ref to get it all checked out, they put a nice little plate in your engine bay so that the CHP can't send you to the ref unless they find aftermarket non CARB legal parts installed. It's basically just a plate saying what motor is in the car. Most CHP officers are looking for key things, such as guages (A/F ratio guages really set them off, boost controllers are a no no, and any other suspicious guages can result in a fixit tell you to go to the ref), modified intake systems, OEM looking exhast manifold/headers, nitrous and other obvious midifications (force induction is quite obvious and will require some explaination).

If you can cover those key points you shouldn't ever have to deal with the ref again. I'd also guarentee that NO cop is gonna crawl on the ground to check for cats. The only thing to watch out for after that is exhast volume. They can send you to the ref for noise pollution testing. So if they stick you with it you might want to cooperate, since fighting it will result in a trip to the ref. I personally preffer quiet smooth exhast as long as it performs well, but I know some guys preffer the type that will knock your fillings loose.

It was also stated that the refs are "very very smart & knowledgable" this is true, and not true. They're very smart, but they don't know tons about actual motor history and such (in most cases). Most refs can't even tell you wether or not a honda motor came from japan or not. If you stuck the USA stickers on the ECU they wouldn't know the difference (when in reality there are a slew of differences). There are many car specific things they don't know much about. I still bet I could get a RB25DE to pass... But for those looking to do things legally, they're very helpful people. They're good friends to make too ;)

Also, I don't think you HAVE to have the gas tank from the donor car, as longs as the sensors & evap system are used from the donor car (though using the tank from the donor might be easlier methinks).

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#17 nismofiend

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Posted 25 March 2006 - 02:48 PM

I love florida and our completely non restrictive laws on emmisions. :]


I couldn't agree more
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#18 HadesOmega

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 04:58 PM

has ne1 here gotten a L28ET swapped into a S30 smog certified by the ref?

I managed to get mine to pass smog after I put the engine it passed damn well too but the guy thought it was a stock engine, but this was just for registration not smog cert. It pretty much is stock cept for a 280ZX =P
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#19 Gollum

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 08:27 PM

Yup, that's the catch of CA smog. The laws are so complex and convoluted that laws seem to be more "subjective" than anything else, thus smog techs and even many refs lack the knowledge really needed to do thier job to it's full obligation.

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#20 Guest_280ZForce_*

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 10:38 PM

Smog laws in CA?! No way! I don't know what you are talking about?! :wink: :icon54: :icon13: :cuss: :burnout:

CA is :cuss: evil! Turbo?! Officer, I didn't know that huge mass was a turbo! :shock: The guy who sold me the car told me it came like this from the dealer, I swear!....ahahaha.

Exhaust modification and intercoolers...wait a second? What do those do?




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