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Thread: California Smog Engine Swap Discussion Thread

  1. #1

    Dr_Snooz's Avatar
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    California Smog Engine Swap Discussion Thread

    I'm making plans to do a few engine swaps around here, by which I mean swapping in engines from different cars. I am mindful that California's Smog Nazis are ever watchful for otherwise decent people making minor infractions. When they find them, they issue savage punishments. The farmers can spray the most diabolical substances freely, but heaven help me if I swap a newer, cleaner-burning engine into my car without their say-so.

    Anyway, I've been calling around to different bureaucracies trying to get more details on what's allowable. I've called DMV, CHP and my nearest Smog Referee. That's the very guy who will be inspecting my swapped car to see if I've done it right. Sadly, NO ONE seems to know the first thing about it! DMV pointed to CHP. CHP pointed to the referee, and the referee couldn't answer the simplest questions.

    I get the feeling that everyone is going through the motions pretending not to be incompetent. I almost feel like I could put anything under the hood and get it approved. I tell you, the wheels have come off this state.

    What do you think guys? How far can I push this?
    Dr_Snooz

    "I like to take hammers, and just break stuff, just break stuff." - Beavis


    1989 Honda Accord LX-i Coupe, 220k miles, MT swap, rear disc swap

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  2. #2
    DX User Temeku's Avatar
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    Re: California Smog Engine Swap Discussion Thread

    I'm not too inclined with the intricacies of California's smog standards myself, but as a fellow Californian with an '87 Accord myself (last passed smog a year ago) I feel like I should chime in with any information I can (which isn't much). What engine were you planning on swapping into it?

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    Dr_Snooz's Avatar
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    Re: California Smog Engine Swap Discussion Thread

    K20. Can you believe the referee tried to talk me out of it? "OBD2 is hard. I'd recommend you stick with OBD1." l thought, "too hard for me? Or you?" These are the folks tasked with improving our air quality. By encouraging people to stick with more polluting technologies. Good grief.
    Dr_Snooz

    "I like to take hammers, and just break stuff, just break stuff." - Beavis


    1989 Honda Accord LX-i Coupe, 220k miles, MT swap, rear disc swap

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  4. #4
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    Re: California Smog Engine Swap Discussion Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr_Snooz View Post
    K20. Can you believe the referee tried to talk me out of it? "OBD2 is hard. I'd recommend you stick with OBD1." l thought, "too hard for me? Or you?" These are the folks tasked with improving our air quality. By encouraging people to stick with more polluting technologies. Good grief.
    Just to gut punch you they are seriously thinking of getting rid of the emissions testing in Nashville TN. Not worth the time or effort.
    1988 Lxi owner since August 1995
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    Now running E85.

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  5. #5

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    Re: California Smog Engine Swap Discussion Thread

    It makes sense. You look at the Charlie Foxtrot that California's testing has turned into and you wonder who's benefiting. Aside from the parasites in the bureaucracy, of course. There are counties here in California that don't do testing. I could buy a cheap piece of property in Modoc County, for instance, re-register my vehicles and not have to worry about it anymore.

    I called my Assemblyman for an update on the legislation he promised to sponsor extending smog exemption to ODB1 cars. His staff informed me that they "can't do anything about it at this time," so they dropped it. Add that to the rooster farm that's moved in across the street from me (65 roosters), combined with an inert sheriff's department response and I'm ready to raise hell. Basically, any name I recognize on any ballot henceforth will get voted out. It seems that all we have here for politicians and bureaucrats are outright criminals or yellow-bellied cowards. Both are equally destructive. Both need to be investigated and jailed for their crimes.

    Still, I'm more optimistic now than I've ever been. Trump's had a couple years to clean up the vote fraud here so I expect the fur to fly come November.

    Back to the topic, the smog testing here really is a disaster, especially when it comes to older cars. Nobody understands the systems. No one can fix them. If they can fix them, they can't get parts. No one even knows how to verify that what you're using is legal. You can pretty much put whatever you want on and not worry. As long as it isn't obviously aftermarket and it blows clean (ie: you took the time to tune it properly) you'll pass, no problem. We're approaching a de facto exemption for these cars already, but my sloth in the State Assembly is too corrupt and stupid to comprehend the obvious. He could so easily put his name to a bill acknowledging reality and make a bunch of happy constituents. Instead, he's pissed us all off and we'll be looking for retribution come November. These are the buffoons who rule over us.

    My hunch is that the referee inspection for an engine swap is the same as a regular inspection. In the case of OBD2, they'll stick their tester into the OBD2 port and see what it says. If it gives the all-clear, if the CEL is off and there's nothing horribly mangled in the engine bay, you'll get your exemption.
    Dr_Snooz

    "I like to take hammers, and just break stuff, just break stuff." - Beavis


    1989 Honda Accord LX-i Coupe, 220k miles, MT swap, rear disc swap

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  6. #6
    LXi User InAccordance's Avatar
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    Re: California Smog Engine Swap Discussion Thread

    Money talks my friend. If you've got the money, you can do whatever you want when it comes to cars.
    I'm looking into an h22. Can get them somewhat cheap and build the shit out of them. Would be fun.
    Originally posted by ShiRen:
    Nice car or not, nobody likes losing a race to an old 4 door Honda.

  7. #7

    Dr_Snooz's Avatar
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    Re: California Smog Engine Swap Discussion Thread

    LOL. That's the plan for my 4g. The 3g is more specialer than that.
    Dr_Snooz

    "I like to take hammers, and just break stuff, just break stuff." - Beavis


    1989 Honda Accord LX-i Coupe, 220k miles, MT swap, rear disc swap

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  8. #8
    LXi User InAccordance's Avatar
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    Re: California Smog Engine Swap Discussion Thread

    I keep going back and forth tbh. Like today I found some internal engine parts for the A motor and now I want to build it and keep it og.
    Also found a b16a2 and a b16 cable trans with lsd. Both separate listings but both at a damn nice price for what they are.
    Also found an entire h22a4 swap even down to the subframe from a 5g lude.
    It's a pickle indeed..
    Originally posted by ShiRen:
    Nice car or not, nobody likes losing a race to an old 4 door Honda.

  9. #9

    conozo's Avatar
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    Re: California Smog Engine Swap Discussion Thread

    I've though about it also, but after getting the car running and driving again i want to keep it stock A20. There are some things i love about the car that i think it would loose if you did a swap. The flat torque curve, the stock torque at 2k RPM is way higher than most all newer honda engines. I love the sound of the engine, sounds like a beast compared to the quiet rev of newer engines. And also i began to appreciate that it doesn't have dual overhead cam, vtec, making it a light weight engine to rev. Its also an unknown to me how an heavier engine would throw off the handling which is by far my favorite part of this car.

    1988 Honda Accord LSDX-I

  10. #10
    LXi User InAccordance's Avatar
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    Re: California Smog Engine Swap Discussion Thread

    Weight really isnt a problem since those newer engines are all aluminum. Basically compensates for swapping out an iron block. I'm sure there is some difference though, I dont have the exact weights in front of me 😋

    I'm personally leaning towards rebuild now. Found some rare go fast goodies I cant pass up.
    Originally posted by ShiRen:
    Nice car or not, nobody likes losing a race to an old 4 door Honda.

  11. #11

    Dr_Snooz's Avatar
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    Re: California Smog Engine Swap Discussion Thread

    I'd like a serpentine belt. I'd like something I can find gaskets for and other assorted small parts. I'd like an aluminum block and roller rockers and a timing chain and OBD2 and 6 gears and 90 more hp and a few more MPG and something that doesn't produce quite so much vibration and some sort of performance part aftermarket and stuff that doesn't break in unanticipated ways because of its age. I'm not in a position to do anything now, but maybe someday. For me it's worth it to swap.
    Dr_Snooz

    "I like to take hammers, and just break stuff, just break stuff." - Beavis


    1989 Honda Accord LX-i Coupe, 220k miles, MT swap, rear disc swap

    Shop manual downloads available here: CLICK TO VIEW

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