California Will Start Testing for ECU Tunes During Smog Checks Starting Next Week

Photo credit: Ford - YouTube

Photo credit: Ford – YouTube

If you live in California and run an aftermarket tune on your car, you might want to think about flashing your ECU back to stock before heading out for your biennial Smog Check. Starting July 19, 2021, testing stations will begin to check whether cars are running OEM or California Air Resources Board (CARB)-approved tunes. If your car isn’t, it’ll fail the test.

The new policy, first highlighted by Car Bibles on Tuesday, is outlined in the California Bureau of Automotive Repair’s Frequently Asked Questions section. From the webpage:

Beginning July 19, 2021, vehicles with software not provided by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or approved through a California Air Resources Board (CARB) Executive Order (EO) will fail Smog Check.

Before your vehicle will pass a Smog Check, you must have the vehicle’s software restored to the OEM software version. Once the software is restored, have your vehicle reinspected by a licensed Smog Check station. Note that vehicles initially directed to a STAR or Referee station must return to the same station type to complete the inspection process.

If you believe the vehicle’s software is already OEM or CARB-approved and yet your vehicle failed Smog Check, schedule an inspection with the Smog Check Referee.

If you unknowingly purchased a vehicle with illegally-modified software, you may file a complaint with BAR.

California is among the strictest regions on the planet when it comes to emissions policies, so it’s not surprising to see the BAR implement a rule that it thinks will curb emissions by preventing cars from using aftermarket tunes that could increase said emissions, no matter how negligible that increase may be.

Tuning your car is one of the easiest and most effective mods you can do to a car, one that often provides measurable results, especially if the car in question is turbocharged. Do you think car owners should be required to run OEM or state-approved tunes in their cars? Do you own a car with a tune? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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