Cheap Jeep?
October 19, 2006 10:00 PM   Subscribe

How hard/expensive is it likely to be to get a ten-year-old Jeep to pass California emissions standards?

Here's the deal. My aunt, in FL, has a Jeep (cloth-top, not sure of the exact model). The jeep is roughly ten years old. It's been very well maintained, low mileage, regular oil changes, no known mechanical problems, etc. etc. Gas mileage is in the 20mpg range; not great but not abysmal. I am able to take ownership of said Jeep for a ridiculously small amount of money.

I will be registering Jeep in California. I understand that California has rather stricter standards for emissions than most states. I don't want to try to drive the Jeep across the country only to find that it will cost me a ridiculous sum of money to bring it up to standards or that it can't be done, I can't register it, and I'm SOL.

So tell me: should I take the car and hope that it won't be too pricy to bring it up to meet standards, or should I skip it and just look into buying a used car in CA? The car is cheap enough that if it cost me less than $3K to retrofit it with (whatever) I'd be happy with that outcome, as long as it'll pass.
posted by fuzzbean to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
A quick web browse makes me think that the year, the engine displacement, and the model really do matter for this question.

For instance, Vortech sells a supercharger kit for the 5.2L engine that's 50-state legal if the engine is a '90-'95, but if it's the '96, it's only 49-state legal. That suggests that something happened in 1996 to change the emissions status of the Jeep.

My best guess is that if you emailed this guy, he'd either know the answer immediately or be able to direct you to the right place to find it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:13 PM on October 19, 2006

Best answer: You do not have to retrofit an out-of-state car to meet California standards. Those California standards are only for vehicles sold in California. The original smog gear must be on the car in accordance with its certification - which you will find on a sticker under the hood and also on the driver side B-pillar.

This link points to the California B.A.R. site where you can read more than you ever wanted to know about Cali's fine smog abatement program.
posted by jet_silver at 10:24 PM on October 19, 2006

Best answer: If the Jeep's original (49 state) smog equipment is operating, you'll have no problem registering it in California. California can only require new vehicles to meet their standards and must accept 49 state cars that have been registered elsewhere without modification of the smog system. CA used to charge a $300.00 emissions impact fee on 49 state vehicles imported into the state, but even that was ruled illegal.
posted by buggzzee23 at 10:25 PM on October 19, 2006

Keep in mind it'll still have to pass a smog test eventually. (Not sure if that has to be done at the initial registration or just on renewal.)

Though, if it doesn't, and it runs, the state will automatically offer to buy it from you for $1k.
posted by trevyn at 11:18 PM on October 19, 2006

If the jeep is running well and has been reasonably well maintained, it will probably pass smog as-is. (Which you will have to do before registering it in California for the first time)

If it doesn't, your $3,000 retrofit budget will certainly fix anything on it that's preventing you from passing.
posted by toxic at 11:39 PM on October 19, 2006

Best answer: There are also a number of things you can do to insure that your older car passes the smog test. Since it is a Jeep, make sure they didn't put oversize tires on it (unlikely). Get a full tune up/oil change and make sure especially they put a good new air filter in. Don't put the budget oil in either. The week before, start filling it up with the higher octane rated gasoline. The day before, take it on a long drive on the highway. An hour at least. Also, there are additives you can get to improve the performance, these can help. Before you drive to the smog check place, drive around for ~30 minutes.

I have also seen places advertised in CA that claim they can make your car pass the 2nd time if it doesn't pass the first time. Might want to check that out if you are really having difficulties.
posted by sophist at 2:01 AM on October 20, 2006

I drove a high-mileage, well maintained, 6 year old SUV across the country when I moved to California. I had no problem passing smog without doing a thing.

Agreed with toxic on this one. If you can get it across the country without trouble, you have $3000 for repairs, and there isn't an obvious and extremely troublesome issue (like blue smoke out the tailpipe), the chance of you not being able to register it is likely to be lower than you getting in an accident on the way out to CA.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 8:08 AM on October 20, 2006

Response by poster: Lovely. Thanks to all of you for the information and reassurance. I feel much better about this now, and I'm extremely excited about the trip!
posted by fuzzbean at 10:06 AM on October 20, 2006

« Older live and write   |   Troubles with email forwarding.. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.