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E30 M3 (1986-1991) {Euro 86-892.3L: 200hp @ 6750} {1990 2.3L Evo2/Cecotto/Ravaglia: 220/215/215hp @ 6750}
{1991 2.5L Sport Evo: 238 @ 7000} {US -- 88-91 2.3L: 196hp @ 6750, 170tq @ 4750}
Total produced: 5,280 US, ~13,300 Europe/world


View Poll Results: CA SMOG: Have they gone too far?
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Old Fri, Dec-20-2013, 07:37:56 AM   #1
CarCrazy24
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Location: Corona Del Mar

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Angry STAR Smog CA - WHAT THE HECK! HELP!

So, here's my story, bear with me as it's a bit of a rant, but I desperately need your help guys.

I purchased my 1990 BMW M3 a couple years back. As with any purchase, car came with a clean smog and title, was originally an east coast car, but obviously babied as the original paint and body has literally no rust. With 81k original miles, I grabbed it.

Fast forward a couple years and I'm already being asked to get a STAR smog, which is far more stringent. The previous owner had installed a supersprint full exhaust system as the car's only modification, with catalytic converter on board, but despite this I felt confident due to the first smog pass upon purchase that the car would do just fine.

Boy, was I wrong.

Problem #1 - My car has no check engine light. Anywhere. There is the "check" light which is for lights and bulbs that are out, but no "Check Engine" indicator. At all. Upon inspection and discovery of this indicator missing, I was failed automatically, the inspector (a 27 year old surfer douche) stating that I had "messed with the gauges somehow and removed the check engine light or taped over it". A nice start, right?

Problem #2 - I was told by said douche that my catalytic converters do not pass visual inspection as they are "2 inches out of factory spec for where they should be placed on the exhaust system."

Problem #3 - STAR Smogs require an EVAP test of the fuel system. Through their testing, they claim there is a leak "somewhere in between the gas tank to the injectors." Thanks again for being helpful, douche.

The tailpipe emissions were done, the car passed those with flying colors. But because of the 3 stated problems above, I was told any one of these would fail me with the STAR smog examinations. It's incredible how subjective and how inane the testing has become, nit-picking at everything. It's not a smog test anymore, it's a total car fault check.

I got a second opinion at another STAR station, and they told me straight up that according to their ALL-DATA manual, my car of my 1990 year should have a check engine light, despite me telling them it was an out of state car, originally sold in Connecticut. This smog station didn't even want to look at my car, at least he didn't take my money like the douche.

It seems as though in the past year, perhaps starting in 2013, smog stations with STAR designation have become very strict, government checked stations. There's no under the table passing, as if it is allowed, then if the car fails its next STAR smog, the previous STAR smog station that passed it will be fined (according to the douche).

So I looked online for help, saw that people were going to dealerships for paperwork that would help me claim that my car has no check engine light and should pass. As for the rest of the issues, I felt that I could at least fix those if absolutely necessary. I went to my local BMW dealership and talked to multiple shop foremen and shop advisers and smog techs, all asking for any paperwork to prove my case. My dealership's staff was conflicted, half saying my car never should have had a check engine light, the other half saying that since the car is past 1987 it should have OBD equipment on board. But almost all were unsure with my car since it was originally sold in Connecticut.

I have an appointment with a state of CA referee for smog checks on difficult cases tomorrow morning. I have to bring as much paperwork as possible to defend my car.

In all, I have a few papers on a very limited amount of vehicle history from its delivery, from BMW themselves, including some recalls done on random parts during its life. I bought myself a CarFax report as well. One thing that the guys at the dealership did help find is a wiring diagram of the gauge cluster of my car, which shows NO check engine light at all! I'm hoping this helps me along the way.

Anyone with a E28 5 series or E30 been through this STAR smog in the past year with an out of state car? Any advice/paperwork would be greatly appreciated.
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Discussing STAR Smog CA - WHAT THE HECK! HELP! in the E30 M3 (1986-1991) Forum - {Euro 86-892.3L: 200hp @ 6750} {1990 2.3L Evo2/Cecotto/Ravaglia: 220/215/215hp @ 6750}
{1991 2.5L Sport Evo: 238 @ 7000} {US -- 88-91 2.3L: 196hp @ 6750, 170tq @ 4750}
Total produced: 5,280 US, ~13,300 Europe/world at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)