Is it time to give up on the Golden State?
The California Air Resources Board or CARB is an incredibly powerful state government agency. Enthusiasts for the most part don’t have warm, squishy feelings for these bureaucrats and it’s easy to see why. However, the latest move made by CARB is perhaps the most targeted at people who like to tweak their ride. Understandably, many enthusiasts are wondering if it’s time to finally throw in the towel and head to a different state.
On the 4th of July Los Angeles Police shut down a classic car meet. Check it out here.
I am, of course, talking about the new CARB rule mandating that when your car gets a Smog Check in California it will be checked for anything other than the OEM ECU programming. That’s right, California will nail you for hacking your car because how dare you? Basically, trying to improve on the factory setup is murdering baby polar bears directly, not only causing all that flooding in coastal areas.
Not too long ago, automakers tried to push through laws which would’ve potentially made it illegal to modify or even work on your own car. It’s seems like more than a coincidence this is now happening in California, and this is likely to spread to other states.
Some enthusiasts are busy arguing it’s pretty easy to switch from an aftermarket tune to the factory one, if you know what you’re doing. That’s true, however that argument misses a critical point about this new government regulation: they won’t stop just at this.
A few years ago, enthusiasts in California were complaining about the exhaust noise level enforcement. Some owners of cars like the Shelby GT350 were cited by police for breaking the law despite having the factory exhaust, unmodified, installed on their car. Sure, they were able to fight the ticket, but that still meant time and effort spent when they did nothing wrong.
This constant salami slicing of vehicle owners’ rights, which of course is always couched as benefiting everyone, will eventually lead to some unavoidably awful consequences. You might be able to step around this aftermarket ECU tuning search for your biennial Smog Check, but what will be the next restriction slapped on enthusiasts living in California? We’ve seen the increasing regulations in Europe, particularly in the UK and especially in London. There’s even been talk there of banning motorcycles in certain districts of the UK. Think that can’t happen in California, or for that matter in Nevada or other states? Think again.