You make sure your aftermarket parts are CARB compliant, and now a smog shop wants to charge you extra?

While it’s harder to modify your car in California than any other state, it’s not impossible to stay CARB (California Air Resources Board) legal. That’s what a modified 1997 Honda Prelude owner, who I came across on a Bay Area Cars Facebook Group, did to his stock engine by installing on a CARB legal intake, header, and catalytic converter.

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But, when it came time for his biannual Smog test as mandated by California’s Smog Check Program, his local smog shop wanted to charge him additional $40, above the $79.99 base price for most cars, for all the non-OEM (CARB legal) parts installed he’ll have to check and cross-reference with CARB’s database.

All that extra work means he can legally charge extra, right?

Well, no. A black-and-white, no grey areas, no.

I asked a representative from the Bureau of Automotive Repair a few days ago and received this response,

A Smog Check inspection includes verification that any aftermarket part(s) are approved by the California Air Resources Board. A Smog Check station cannot charge an additional cost for this step of the inspection. Additionally, an estimate listing the inspection price must be authorized by the consumer before the station begins the inspection.

Consumers who have concerns regarding their Smog Check estimate may file a complaint online with the Bureau of Automotive Repair.

-Matt Woodcheke- BAR Public Information Officer

So, there you have it from BAR themselves, a smog shop cannot charge extra to verify your CARB legal aftermarket parts, no matter how many you have installed.

For the aforementioned Prelude owner, there are dozens of other smog shops to choose from and presumably, he took his business elsewhere.

CARB’s aftermarket parts Executive Order Database

Every CARB legal, aftermarket part you buy comes with an Executive Order number plate (or sticker) affixed. All smog techs have to do is reference the EO number to CARB’s EO database to verify its legality.

When I had a smog tech check out my CARB legal aftermarket header+cat combo from Magnaflow during my biannual inspection, not only did he cross-reference the EO number, it felt like he did an independent image search to make sure I didn’t affix some random metal EO plate on a non-CARB compliant part.

While it took him an additional five minutes, I wasn’t charged extra,

Bookmark this post for future reference and share it with your friends. It might save them extra charged labor costs they don’t legally have to pay.


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