Develop a specialty vehicle definition (vehicle is 25 years old or older; limited production vehicle; special interest vehicle, etc.). Build a coalition of interested clubs and organizations. Propose fair alternative language that benefits both the hobbyist and the community (screened from ordinary public view by means of a suitable fence, trees, shrubbery, etc.). Garner support from local media. Be persistent in your efforts.
Emissions and Smog Check Programs
Many states operate their own inspection and maintenance (I/M) programs in areas that the has designated as a "nonattainment area," meaning that the area has not attained the Environmental Protection Agency's required air quality. The EPA checks for carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide when designating these areas. When an area does not meet the standard for any individual pollutant, or any combination of the pollutants, then it is placed on the list of nonattainment areas.
To meet the EPA's emissions reduction requirements, many states are implementing more stringent emission I/M programs. An I/M program may be currently operating in your state, or could be soon.
Many states have incorporated the OBD testing method as part of the vehicle emissions inspection for '96 and newer vehicles. These OBD tests replace tailpipe tests by identifying emissions problems through information stored in the vehicle's on-board computer system. Some states have even proposed only testing vehicles with the OBD test, limiting the vehicles that need to be tested to those manufactured in 1996 and later. The I/M 240 is an enhanced emissions testing program, with "240" representing the number of seconds that the tailpipe portion of the test lasts. I/M 240 tests require visual inspection of emissions control devices, an evaporative emissions test and a transient drive-cycle exhaust emissions test, performed while the vehicle is running on rollers. Many state programs mistakenly fail vehicles in the visual test based on the presence of aftermarket engine products or force older collector vehicles to undergo some type of testing.
Policy makers must properly focus inspection procedures and not confuse legitimate aftermarket parts with emission defeat devices and tampering violations. The hobby must also pursue proactive legislative initiatives to establish exemptions from inspections for low-mileage vehicles, classic vehicles (defined as 25 years old and older), and newer vehicles. It is useful to remind legislators that the emissions from this small portion of the vehicle fleet are negligible. This is especially true when you consider the low miles typically driven by hobby vehicles and the excellent condition in which these vehicles are maintained.
Equipment Standards and Inspections
The federal government, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has the right to set, enforce, and investigate safety standards for new motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment. These Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) are performance-based. They do not dictate design elements. For example, the federal lighting standard prescribes the photometric requirements for a headlamp but does not dictate shape or size.
The FMVSS covers basic types of equipment (tires, rims, headlamps/taillamps, brake hoses, etc.) and establishes vehicle crashworthiness requirements (front and side impact, roof crush resistance, fuel system integrity, etc.).
Emissions and emissions-related parts are regulated by the U.S. EPA and various state agencies, primary of which is the California Air Resources Board (CARB). For products sold in California (and states that have adopted the California standards), manufacturers must conform to standards issued by the CARB.