Understanding the legal concerns for the parts we install to improve our vehicles --- while also working to protect the air we all breathe.
The Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) has provided clear guidelines, and a color-code system, for providing information on maintaining legal compliance on products offered to the general public (our customers). The color code is provided below. However, here is some additional background information.
What’s under the hood is important to air quality. Automotive emissions account for over 50 percent of all smog-forming pollutants in California. To improve air quality, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) requires vehicle manufacturers to develop engine and emission equipment systems that reduce the specific pollutants that cause California’s severe air quality problem. These emission control systems are also required to be proven durable and reliable.
To ensure that these systems operate as designed, California Vehicle Code Section 27156 and the Federal Clean Air Act prohibit modifications that increase motor vehicle emissions. Since if properly designed, most performance modifications do not increase vehicle emissions, these same laws also allow the installation of parts or modifications proven by their manufacturers and the ARB not to increase vehicle emissions.
All aftermarket parts sold in California belong to one of the following four groups:
Products designated with a GREEN #1 icon as shown at left have been granted a California Air Resources Board (CARB) Executive Order (E.O.) exemption, or is considered a direct or consolidated replacement part for the intended application. These products are considered 50-State Legal when installed on the appropriate vehicle when properly following the application guide and installation instructions provided by the product manufacturer
Products designated with a BLUE #2 icon as shown at left are legal for use on 1974 and older Non-Catalyst equipped vehicles. These products are considered replacement parts per CARB regulations, as long as ALL emissions sensitive components are retained. This includes exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valves, A.I.R tubes., heat risers, and similar components. Failure to retain any of the required components , or use on 1975 or newer catalyst-equipped vehicles, would render this product illegal for street or on-highway use and may only be used for off-road, closed course competition.
Products designated with an ORANGE #2 icon as shown at left are ILLEGAL for street or on-highway use and are only intended for off-road, closed course competition use.
EXCEPTIONS: 1965 and older US manufactured, California Certified vehicles; 1967 and older US manufactured, Federal Certified vehicles, or 1967 and older Foreign manufactured vehicles, may utilize these products, as long as the vehicle meets emissions standards for the model year of the vehicle and retains any original or retrofit emissions control devices, including EGR, A.I.R. and any NOx device originally installed on the vehicle.