California Title and Registration of Diesels

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Nov 16, 2017
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California
This is good advice. The people at CARB, at least the ones I spoke with, are way more knowledgeable and willing to discuss the ins and outs of their regs than the people at the DMV. I would absolutely call CARB and ask politely what the deal is. If you can, get them to email you whatever they tell you over the phone.
Backtrack, but forgot to post this ages ago. These are the last couple of emails I received while speaking with CARB and the modification center.

Regarding requirements and cost -
"Your vehicle requires modification, testing, and certification to meet California Standards. The cost is $9,950.00 and will take approximately 8-12 weeks to complete. Should you decide to pursue the certification of your vehicle, so you can register it in the state of California, please contact us at (714) 545-9503 ext. 219 to schedule the inspection of your vehicle.

Please provide a copy of all documents related to your vehicle such as the foreign title and customs entry forms. Thank you

Sincerely,

N*** G*** "

------------------------------------------

Regarding work performed -
"They add a new emissions control system, emissions dyno tuning, CARB FTP testing, Certificate of conformity, etc…. It’s a process and takes time. Good luck

Sincerely,

N*** G*** "

Dated 2019-01-09

Basically what you'd be looking at to get an old 70 series diesel registered in CA.
 

saltycoconuts

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Backtrack, but forgot to post this ages ago. These are the last couple of emails I received while speaking with CARB and the modification center.

Regarding requirements and cost -
"Your vehicle requires modification, testing, and certification to meet California Standards. The cost is $9,950.00 and will take approximately 8-12 weeks to complete. Should you decide to pursue the certification of your vehicle, so you can register it in the state of California, please contact us at (714) 545-9503 ext. 219 to schedule the inspection of your vehicle.

Please provide a copy of all documents related to your vehicle such as the foreign title and customs entry forms. Thank you

Sincerely,

N*** G*** "

------------------------------------------

Regarding work performed -
"They add a new emissions control system, emissions dyno tuning, CARB FTP testing, Certificate of conformity, etc…. It’s a process and takes time. Good luck

Sincerely,

N*** G*** "

Dated 2019-01-09

Basically what you'd be looking at to get an old 70 series diesel registered in CA.
I know someone who had this done to a defender 110. I don’t think I’d ever do this. Seems like a huge scheme.
 

saltycoconuts

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Not a fan of big news channels but things are sounding interesting.
 

tlaporte

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I wish I could see the recent news as an indicator that there will be an impact on the ability to register older diesels or other grey market imports in California, but it seems to me that this will only have an impact on newly-built vehicles. Registration requirements are made at the state level rather than the federal level.
 
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santa barbara
Well that’s good to hear u figured something out. I crossed my fingers when I got it from cruiser outfitters and it went smooth. Everything else went horrible tho- Unseen rust he never mentioned to me- broken cruise control- tranny needs a rebuild- had to redo breaks to be as good as my gasser- factory winch/bumper too light for old man emu suspension and factory winch broke- injector pump leaked needed a rebuild- struggle finding a reliable parts source - factory seats were broken- truck was slow compared to my gasser so- g turbo - exhaust - intake - Snorkel mods - valve body and billet torque converter.....:I’m at least 60k deep into a 1991 hdj81- Moral of the story - unless you made your money easily or unless you still make good money relatively easily don’t get a diesel 80 series.
 

saltycoconuts

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Well that’s good to hear u figured something out. I crossed my fingers when I got it from cruiser outfitters and it went smooth. Everything else went horrible tho- Unseen rust he never mentioned to me- broken cruise control- tranny needs a rebuild- had to redo breaks to be as good as my gasser- factory winch/bumper too light for old man emu suspension and factory winch broke- injector pump leaked needed a rebuild- struggle finding a reliable parts source - factory seats were broken- truck was slow compared to my gasser so- g turbo - exhaust - intake - Snorkel mods - valve body and billet torque converter.....:I’m at least 60k deep into a 1991 hdj81- Moral of the story - unless you made your money easily or unless you still make good money relatively easily don’t get a diesel 80 series.

🤔 Wrong thread I think...
 
Joined
Sep 4, 2014
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bay area, CA
Piggy backing on this thread. Are there any foreseeable issues when purchasing a JDM HJ61 that currently has CA registration but was never updated to CARB standards? I'd assume I wouldnt even need to go to the DMV, I can just take the CA reg and title to AAA and transfer but im curious if there might be issues with 1) the vin, does it just have 0's tagged onto the end to get 17 digits? 2) would there be anything to potentially flag it by CARB when registering from PO to me even though its a CA to CA transfer of title and reg?

thanks y'all
 
Joined
Nov 24, 2014
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If it is currently registered in CA you won't have any issues with the transfer of title.
Smog checks upon sale/change of title is not required for diesels older than 1997.
You can do it by mail if you have the pink slip.
 
Joined
Aug 28, 2017
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San Francisco Bay Area
First registration is always extremely painful. If it is possible anymore at this point.
One thing people can try (disclaimer: this is a long shot) would be to take the year, make, and model of your vehicle and see if it was sold in California in the same year with the same engine and emissions equipment (example: you have a JDM '84 pickup with a 2L or 2LT, and the same pickup was sold in CA with the same motor, identical EGR and cat, etc). If you can show that your rig was sold in CA with the exact same setup, you may have a chance. It won't work for a lot of stuff but you'd be surprised...
 
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Nov 22, 2018
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If you were going to register an imported troopy diesel in California that has had an engine swap, would it be possible? or would the engine and frame numbers all have to match?
Im aware of the emission mods & test you would have to do before titling as well.
 
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Oceanside, CA, USA
Assuming it gets past the customs people with the non original engine, I'm guessing the DMV person probably wouldn't even know or notice the engine's been swapped unless it's obviously a modern engine (vs. like a 12ht). The DMV guy I took mine to seemed a lot more concerned by the frame VIN than what was on the tag inside the engine compartment or anything else written on it (like "2h" motor). Maybe someone has a definitive answer, though, but I doubt it.
 

hoser

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My understanding is all vehicles that don't have a US EPA Emissions label are sent to CHP now for verification.
 
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My understanding is all vehicles that don't have a US EPA Emissions label are sent to CHP now for verification.
That's true (unless you happen to be one of the lucky ones that gets a DMV that doesn't know their own laws). It appears Hudson is aware of that and the assumption I made from his question is that he might actually be considering spending the big bucks to do it.
 
Joined
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California
That's true (unless you happen to be one of the lucky ones that gets a DMV that doesn't know their own laws). It appears Hudson is aware of that and the assumption I made from his question is that he might actually be considering spending the big bucks to do it.
Yes I am considering on getting the emission modification and spending the dreaded big bucks .
Before i do that I want to make sure i wont run into a problem with the engine and frame numbers not matching.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Yes I am considering on getting the emission modification and spending the dreaded big bucks .
Before i do that I want to make sure i wont run into a problem with the engine and frame numbers not matching.
When I went to the CHP, all he seemed interested in was if I had the CARB certificate but the DMV had already looked at my VIN on my frame. He (DMV guy) didn't seemed to care about the engine or the riveted tag on the firewall having the VIN.
 
Joined
Jan 5, 2019
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Central Valley, CA
The issue seems to be the Federal Certification Label (sticker) under the hood. It's a bit pointless since that sticker is not required federally by EPA (which is why it's ok in every other state) and our older 70 series are exempt from SMOG testing (so it was ok with CA up until 2017). To make it extra confusing, don't forget to add a dash of bureaucratic incompetence; they don't tell you until weeks after your shiny CA plates are in hand that your title won't be issued.

The requirement for the label was added to the DMV forms sometime in 2017. The lack of sticker is noted at the DMV in box 6 of form 32 (Verification of Vehicle). Under the procedures adopted in 2017, this triggers the DMV to refer you to a CHP inspection. CHP validates the vin and lack of Federal Certification Label and sends you back to DMV. DMV then takes your application and hands you plates. In the past, this was acceptable and life went on, as long as your vehicle is EPA exempt (more than 25 years old) and CA SMOG testing exempt (pre-1997 I believe).

Since sometime in 2017, however, they have considered the presence of this sticker to be mandatory. However, they don't tell you this until you've had weeks/months of DMV/CHP appointments (3 minimum) and already received your plates. California, in a particular stroke of bureaucratic cruelty, let's you drive your vehicle with California plates on it for weeks before letting you know by letter that your title won't be issued and registration is being revoked.

There is an alternative to producing the label:
  1. You can get a "letter of conformity" from the manufacturer specifying the emissions standard to which the vehicle was built (pointless for older Toyotas), however no manufacturer supplies such letters (creating a standard which cannot be met);
  2. You can take your vehicle to the only state-certified Diesel emissions testing lab, located in the bay area. There for $10-15k USD they will modify the vehicle to pass the federal standards that likely don't exist. I've spoken to the importers and others who list this option in their sites and profiles, but have never found an example of someone who has gone down this route. ARB's website implies this is not an acceptable option. It is very questionable as to whether this is a viable solution. It may well be a black hole of time & money.
Thus our troubles have begun anew.

I know of only one exception whose gotten through (extraordinary circumstances) and I don't have much faith that we'll find more.
 
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