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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My 1988 USA Federal Lotus Esprit Turbo had a disastrous time getting a smog test here in California 8/12/2014.

I bought the car in California in 2011 (a smog test required for any change of ownership).

It required ANOTHER smog test 2012 (because the car coincidentally is tested EVEN years).

Both times, it passed just fine.

2014 - California changed the rules making it more stringent to test pre 1990 cars.

To make matters worse, the official smog book lists the USA Federal 1988-04 Lotus Esprit Turbo has having a MIL (Malfunction Indicator Light, aka 'Check Engine' light) - this is incorrect as 1988 had Bosch CIS fuel injection (mechanical and no MIL). It should read '1989-04 Lotus Esprit...'

The same shop (same owner) that tested in 2012 refused to test my car in 2014 due to the difficulty.
The 2nd shop refused; the 3rd shop tried and found the MIL error in the book - unable to test.
The 4th shop also confirmed the MIL error in the book and could not test the car either.

So, my 88 Esprit can not be certified at the 'Star Certified' smog stations UNTIL I go to the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (CA BAR) referee station and prove that my 88 Esprit does not have a MIL.

They will put a sticker on the car and I will then be able to certify at any California Test only station.
Hopefully tomorrow's appointment will be uneventful.

Here's the main page that shows 1989 is the year of the MIL, not 1988:



I took pictures and highlighted the supporting factory Service manual pages that show the MIL as 1989 ONLY for any 1988 California owners who may need it.


California_BAR_Lotus_Esprit_1988_MIL Photos by eberin | Photobucket
 

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And badaboombadabing.. another reason I am glad to live in Texas!

I seriously cringed and laughed at the same time when I read "California Bureau of Automotive Repair (CA BAR) referee station ..."

Pictured in my head someone else not as resourceful as you opening his door to some officials one day with green peace t-shirts at his house to confiscate his car.
 

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Outstanding post, with a helpful essay detailing the specific troubles associated with oft-changing environmental laws, describing how incredibly difficult they can be to surmount, even when clearly applied in error. Best of all, it does what members of this forum do best: offers a possible solution to other members.

PA has some counties with no smog test at all, while others such as Bucks where I reside, require a tailpipe test or, with cars that have it, a simple OBDII test with visual check to ensure a Catalytic converter is installed. Luckily, the state/county doesn't care where the cat is, just that one is present. The county also has exemptions for cars driven under 5,000 miles a year, but other counties, I think do not. The various laws are unevenly applied, but at least are far from as stringently applied as in some other states (or counties).

Again--great write up and visual. I hope you pass (and contact your state rep to get the '88 info correctly applied to the state inspection book!)
 

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1988 Esprit Turbo
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"California Bureau of Automotive Repair (CA BAR) referee station ..."



Pictured in my head someone else not as resourceful as you opening his door to some officials one day with green peace t-shirts ....

When I think of a Referee, I think of a guy in a striped shirt...:rolleyes:





Here in NJ we had a "classic car" status wherein you only needed limited mileage insurance and your odometer had to work.:panic:

Lately they have tightened that up so it's a regular inspection for me.:UK:
 

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Being in Socal this is good to know, thanks for this. I am hoping that you are right about the pre 1990 "new" rule.

Thanks for sharing and the illustration!
 

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I recall reading about this some time ago, the owner simply used a friends address in Nevada as his residence and registered it there?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
My 88 passed with flying colors - nearly 8X-10X cleaner than the standard - 62K miles, bone stock engine.

Curiously, they didn't even need my factory manuals - they put 'N/A' for the MIL/Check Engine light since the Tech seemed familiar with the car.

They did scour the engine compartment, looking at the various bolt-on bits. I provided the service page that located the Bosch CIS components, etc as well as any smog gear.

They also looked under the chassis (from the wheel wells) for the catalyst and other random bits. I got the impression they were looking for modifications (e.g. BOVs or anything non-factory like anodized aluminum accessories) - if it looked factory, they were OK with it. They had an inspection mirror they were sticking in all the crevices.

They pressure tested both gas caps too.

No sticker, but I do have a test report that says 'N/A' for the 'Check Engine Light/MIL'.

And the killer part - it only cost me $8.25. They don't charge the $50+ that a commercial facility would do (my California tax dollars at work ;-)).
 

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Discussion Starter #10
[snip]
(and contact your state rep to get the '88 info correctly applied to the state inspection book!)
Are you kidding me? Contact a California politician and get something done?:evil:
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
[snip]
Here in NJ we had a "classic car" status wherein you only needed limited mileage insurance and your odometer had to work.:panic:

Lately they have tightened that up so it's a regular inspection for me.:UK:
California USED to have a law that said any car 30 years or older did not need smog inspection (but were 'required' to have their smog gear intact - presumably if they decide to change the law - which they did).

Now the law was revised as all cars 1975 and older are exempt from smog inspection (the gear part still stands). All cars 1976 and up must have operational smog gear :huh: and be inspected every 2 years.
 

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Actually...that used to be 20 years or older. I know people that were looking forward to their car's twenty year birthday and then the law was changed. :(

Sorry, Eddie! 1976 cars are subject to smog inspection...it is 1975 and older that are exempt from the biannual smog test here in Californica. (intentional sp.)

Roy
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Actually...that used to be 20 years or older. I know people that were looking forward to their car's twenty year birthday and then the law was changed. :(

Sorry, Eddie! 1976 cars are subject to smog inspection...it is 1975 and older that are exempt from the biannual smog test here in Californica. (intentional sp.)

Roy
Hmmm...I thought it was 1975 too; then I saw 1976 somewhere. It makes sense to be 1975 - 1976 being an uneven year.

I still remember it as 30 years because it seem too long to me. But my memory isn't what it use to be :scratchhead:
 

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Typical of the brains behind CA DMV or whoever determines these things, I always thought 1975 was an oddball year for them to use. 1974 would have been more appropriate since 1975 was the year that the catalytic convertor became standard equipment on most if not all, new American cars in the US.

LOL...positive it was twenty years...I had a wicked '68 Camaro and was looking forward to the twenty year rule in 1988 back in the day. Okay, just dated myself here. :)
 

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Oh...interesting!
I did some research online and am seeing 30 years in the early 2000s...I remember that in the 80s, it was 20 years...that is all that any of us car guys talked about back in the day since smog testing appeared around that time. Guessing it must have changed sometime in the 90s or so. Research online just doesn't pull up anything that old. It would help to know what year the 30 year rolling smog rule (which is no longer applicable) came about.

Regardless, I guess it doesn't mean anything at this point anyway since it doesn't apply anymore. :(

1976 is correct if you say 1976 and newer, but most DMV rules I've seen say vehicles 1975 and "older" which is the same thing.

Gawd, I feel old!
 

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Good gawd! The level of bureaucracy in California is mind-boggling.

:p No smog tests here in Virginia Beach, just $16/yr for a safety inspection (referee not required).

SC has it even better, no inspections there whatsoever.
 

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Believe it or not, no safety inspections here in California, unless you are doing a kit car or bringing a car back from the dead.

Although some may differ, I think the cops are very laidback here (especially SF/Northern CA) compared to other states. Perhaps too easy going on some things. People never seem to use their blinkers around here...drives me nuts. I know from a ton of biz travel to other states in the past that this would likely result in a ticket, unlike here.

Then again, there was that thread recently about not speeding in Virginia :O
 

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Here in NJ it is also difficult. They did away with the safety inspections but still do emissions testing. Tells you what they think is important! Your wheels can fall off, no brakes, you can have a cracked windscreen, no brake lights, missing headlight, but if you make smog you can't drive the car! Older cars can go collector or historic if you don't drive them much so you can skip the emissions. They still charge you an inspection fee in the registration! Had similar problems with my Delorean. They failed me for a bad fuel cap. Turns out the testing apparatus didn't have the proper adapter. Took a while till they exempted us from testing the gas cap. The computer now has an N/A for it.
David Teitelbaum
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Good gawd! The level of bureaucracy in California is mind-boggling.
[snip]
If you're old enough like me *cough*, you'll remember the 70s where there was a concept of a 'California' smog standard and a '49 state' smog standard for cars.

My 76 VW Scirocco was a California compliant car with 71HP 1.6 liter Zenith carburetor, EGR, air pump AND a catalyst. I believe the 49 state car did not have a catalyst nor the EGR.

And the rest is history - all cars now are '50' state cars - meeting California's higher standard and not dealing with complexity of CA vs. 49 state standards.
 

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I wasn't of driving age yet, but I remember that in the 70s, Eddie! California cars and 49 state cars...I also remember some "High Altitude emissions" option listed on some option lists.

I also recall that in California in 1980, you could only get an automatic 305 V8 in the Corvette, so people were bringing in 350 4 speed cars from out of state and selling them at a premium. :)

I hadn't realized they were all 50 state cars now, that makes sense...we have come a long way. I vaguely remember hearing just a few years back that if you bought a new car out of state that it had to have a certain amount of miles or it could not be registered in California. Guessing that was more to get people to buy locally as opposed to smog.
 
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