The RIGHT Catalytic Converter

Your Car’s Exhaust System- How do I know what the RIGHT Catalytic Converter is for my car?

Lately, at Ayers Automotive Repairs, we have been seeing more and more vehicles failing a smog inspection for having the wrong catalytic converter installed on their vehicle.  We haven’t seen this issue in a while but when it does happen it is considered a “tamper” failure and there is no cost limit in California for the repair.

Sometimes, the check engine light is on (MILON) and that is a heads up something is wrong within the emission system.  Hopefully, it is something simple a system check, clearing the codes, light is off, and things are back to normal, sort of like rebooting your computer.

Other times it is warning about a leak in the system anywhere from a gas cap to an exhaust leak somewhere.  During a smog inspection, the smog technician is required by California BAR Smog Check Requirements to verify the proper smog equipment is on a vehicle.  One of the items that must be correct for the vehicle is the catalytic converter.  I would like to pass along the following information if you find yourself being told you must replace the converter on your vehicle.

“U.S. vehicle emissions are governed by the EPA, which oversees the Federal and CARB, which governs California and 14 additional states that follow it.

A common misconception is that a Federal converter can by used on any non-California registered vehicle.  However, this only applies to vehicles with Federal systems.  If the non-CA vehicle has a California system, it must use a converter made for that system.  While it doesn’t have to meet CARB emissions, it must fit “mechanically”, because the configuration, length, and O2 sensor locations may differ.”  AP Emissions Technologies, Counterman Magazine, March 2019

To determine what type of converter is needed, you may check or your smog technician can advise of the emission system in your vehicle, which can be found in one of three places – on the front radiator support, strut tower plate or under the engine hood, on an emission label by the manufacturer or by a state agency authorized to create the emission label for your vehicle.  In California that would be the State Smog Referee.

If you need a smog check, Ayers Automotive Repairs is a Star Station at our 1301 Chapala Street location in downtown Santa Barbara, corner of Chapala and Victoria Street.  Please call for an appointment to 805-962-7316.

Happy Motoring,

Nikki Ayers

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