My dilemma, thanks to CA smog rules


My dilemma, thanks to CA smog rules

by SeaWo » Sun, 24 May 2009 09:54:41

> > > I own a 2002 Ford Taurus with 175,000 miles. ?It recently stopped
> > > running with very odd symptoms.

> > > My local non-dealer Ford specialist diagnosed the problem as collapsed
> > > innards in the Catalytic Converters ($3400). ?This is much more than
> > > the car is worth given its overall condition.

> > > Why so high? ?Because CA uses a different catalytic converter than the
> > > rest of the country (I could buy the 49-state version for $250 on
> > > eBay), and because CA smog rules prohibit the installation of anything
> > > other than a brand new product, purchased from the manufacturer. ?3rd
> > > party products are not permitted. ?A nearly new one from a crashed/
> > > junked car of the same vintage is not permitted either.

> > > So, I seem to be SOL. ?Any suggestions?

> > You never directly said that you were in California.

> > If you are, what county?

> I forgot to add, it might be worth dropping the cats and visually
> inspecting them.

> A few years ago, I was living in Michigan. ?One day my GTI 16V started
> running badly literally three blocks from a VW dealer. ?Despite my
> misgivings about dealers in general and VW dealers in particular, I
> dropped the car off at the VW dealer and took a cab home. ?They
> refused to touch the car until I authorized them to replace the
> catalytic converter at a cost of something like $500. ?Now I'd just
> bought the car and knew that it had a brand new cat in it, so I
> wouldn't. ?We ended up at a stalemate where they refused to
> troubleshoot the car and I refused to authorize replacement of the
> cat. ?Eventually I had the car towed to an independent VW specialist
> in Ann Arbor and told the dealership that if they expected me to pay
> for their "labor" (which seemed to consist of disconnecting my exhaust
> system and leaving it disconnected) that they could retain a lawyer
> and explain their side of the story in court. ?The independent
> diagnosed the problem as a burned valve, and I found a used head for
> them which they installed. ?They visually inspected the cat and told
> me that it appeared to be brand new, which, of course, it was. ?The
> car ran fine until I sold it a few years later.

> nate- Hide quoted text -

> - Show quoted text -

I think that I've had just two cars with cats. Opps,ake that three.

I refuse to discuss them


My dilemma, thanks to CA smog rules

by jtch.. » Thu, 28 May 2009 02:01:56

I think a lot of junkyards, at least in California, won't even sell
catalytic converters, due to a CARB regulation that claims there is no
reliable and feasible way to test them to see if they're still in good
enough shape (this may be layered upon a Federal EPA regulation on the

It would be a risky purchase from a consumer as well as an air quality
standpoint, depending on just how the car ended up in the junkyard
(though I'd hope that 2002 models are in there because of an accident
rather than IMHO vastly premature aging).     I don't think I can tell
from the outside, and am not at all sure I could even tell with a
borescope except in a purely negative sense (e.g., seeing that it's
totally slagged inside), whether a cat is any good.  BTW, some cars
throw an OBD II error code if the cat is "inefficient," in which case
you never even get to any further parts of the test.

Unless you really love the car or don't care to shell out for a
suitable replacement, selling it out of state, "as is" with
disclosure of its predicament, might be something to consider.  I've
seen a number of ads along these lines on the online services.  I
think that in California, technically the seller is required to pony
up a smog certificate, but don't know how diligently this is

I feel your pain, that's for sure.  The price quoted to you (Jeez
Louise!) for the special California breed of cats is, as you noted,
literally more than the blue-book value of that late-model but high-
miler car.   Someone looking at paying an order of magnitude less for
49-state cats would find that the numbers worked out better, so
perhaps you can find an Arizona or Nevada resident (or perhaps one of
the people who buy American cars in repairable condition and truck or
convoy them to Mexico) who is willing to come get it if the price is
right.  Meanwhile, on your end, there are lots of used Tauruses and
their successor the Five Hundred, and you should be able to cherry
pick a good one.


Matthew Russot

My dilemma, thanks to CA smog rules

by Matthew Russot » Tue, 09 Jun 2009 01:53:03

Circularly reason much?
It's times like these which make me glad my bank is Dial-a-Mattress