The Death of Diesel Performance--As We Know It

A Grim Reality in the Golden State

Mar. 02, 2010 By Jaime Hernandez
Diesel Performance Off-Road
Diesel Performance Off-Road trucks and Tow Rigs are being challenged by the State of California (Photo Stephen Clark).
If you own a Diesel truck and donít live in California, consider yourself lucky.  Whether it be global warming or the sluggish economyópoliticians in Sacramento are looking for another way to make money.  Letís SMOG Diesels! 
California has put into effect a law that will require all diesel-powered vehicles 1998+ with a GVW of less than 14,000 to go through a smog test. The specifics have not been clear since day one. It wasnít until the end of December 2009 that they finally released more information on performance items that might raise a red flag during the smog test.
The diesel smog test might be new to California, but other states like New York, Colorado and Nevada have had it for years.
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The diesel vehicle Smog Check consists of an on-board diagnostic test, a visual inspection of the emissions components and a visible smoke test.
Some of the items that will require C.A.R.B. (California Air Resources Board) certification include power programmers, performance turbo, intercooler, fuel injectors, ram intake and fuel pumps, just to name a few. Sadly, the majority of these items have not received certification because they alter the vehicle's emissions.
So what now, is diesel performance dead?

The Death of Diesel Performance - Page 2

No, not really. Itís just being attacked by a bunch of blood-sucking bureaucrats in Sacramento. People in the automotive industry I have talked to say itís just another way for the state of California to create revenue. Itís not so much about pollution and saving the environment. Heck, some of these power programmers are increasing MPG up to 10 miles. 

We contacted Banks Power in Azusa, CA to find out if this new law has affected their business and what they are doing to fight it. They have been working with C.A.R.B. on the issue for years but at the moment have no comment on that matter. We plan to follow up with the company soon to get a more in-depth explanation to the California diesel performance battle.
Edge Products out of Utah is another player in the diesel performance market that has been effected by the diesel lwas. Edge makes a power programmer that can provide performance and an increase in MPG for both diesel and gas.  We spoke to them about the California smog test and were notified that they have done all they can at this timeóthey have applied for C.A.R.B. certification on all their power programmers. For now they are waiting on the C.A.R.B. to finish testing and grant certification. No word on when approval will be granted.
Edge Products
Edge Products has already filed with the C.A.R.B. on all of its gas and diesel Edge power programmer (Photo PTW).

For now, if you need to get your diesel truck smoged, itís recommended you return it to its stock form before doing the test. Otherwise itís almost guaranteed it will not pass. At that time, you have the option of fixing it. You can apply for $500 from the state of CA for repairs on emissions problems, or you can turn over the keys to Arnold and get $1,000 for retiring your diesel.
Diesel Dyno at Off Road Expo
Diesel shootout at the Off Road Expo in Pomona, CA (Photo D. Linthicum).

In my opinion, the state enacted a diesel smog law, but there is too much confusion on what exactly is legal and not legal at this time. I have talked to some smog test stations about it and they are not even clear on what the test involves. Itís already March 2010óthis is not a good sign.

Unfortunately, itís not going away and we will need to deal with it. Diesel smog laws might be new in California, but other states have been testing for years. Many say that California is a trendsetteróso if thatís true, itís only a matter of time before diesel smog laws start showing up in other states.

We know this is important to those of you who have spent thousands of dollars soupping up your diesel rigs. will bring you more updates on the matter as they break. We will also work on bringing you alternatives to achieving performance without breaking the law.

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If your interested in learning more about the California Diesel Smog Test, please visit
California Department of Motor Vehicles
Banks Power
Edge Products
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