Widespread fraud’ in California’s smog test program

Thought i’d share some info ::
State aims to make major changes after finding that nearly a third of older cars fail roadside smog checks within a year of passing at test stations.

Nearly a third of older-model cars stopped for roadside smog tests in Southern California failed them, despite having received a passing grade at inspection stations within a year, a state audit has found.

The results of those surprise inspections of 6,000 models manufactured before 1996 have led law enforcement officials to crack down on unscrupulous stations, step up fines and file more criminal charges.

Legislation introduced in the California Assembly this week would allow the state to bar low-performing test stations from conducting smog checks.

“We found widespread fraud in the program,” said Leo Kay, spokesman for the California Air Resources Board, which is sponsoring the bill.

“There are quite a few people out there who will get your dirty car passed,” said Tom Cackette, deputy director of the board. “You can stick a probe up the tailpipe of a clean vehicle. And the dirty car doesn’t get inspected but it gets certified. We put people in jail for that. Undercover activity shows it is prevalent.”

The legislation, introduced this week by Assemblyman Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park), also would fundamentally change how the majority of inspections are done. Testers would be required to use a hand-held scanner that reads data from on-board computers found on post-1996 cars, which report the vehicle’s performance over time. Tailpipe-and-treadmill testing, which is more susceptible to manipulation and fraud, will be phased out as older cars leave the state’s roads. Bill backers expect the test, used in 22 states, to take half as much time, which could drive down prices for consumers.

The computer device would register the car’s model and VIN, making fraud difficult. Information gleaned from onboard computers, which monitor components from catalytic converters to gas caps, would go directly to the state Bureau of Automotive Repair.

Some 23 million motorists are included in the state’s smog test program and would be affected by the proposals. Cars made before 1996 constitute only a quarter of the fleet but account for three-quarters of vehicle pollution, the board says.

By cracking down on smog check stations, the state estimates it will prevent an additional 70 tons of pollutants per day from fouling California air, on top of the 400 tons daily that the smog test program is credited with averting.

“This new and improved program will have the same result as taking 800,000 old cars off the road,” said board Chairwoman Mary D. Nichols.

The random tests were conducted by California Highway Patrol and Bureau of Automotive Repair officials between 2000 and 2006. They found that 19% of the stopped vehicles failed tailpipe checks within a year of having received passing grades at testing stations. Additional inspection of the car’s pollution systems, such as fuel evaporation controls, brought the proportion of failures to 31%.

Sherry Mehl, chief of the auto repair bureau that oversees the smog check program, called the results “appalling.” But she added that the fault may not lie exclusively with stations. “One part is people manipulating their own cars to get them to pass, and the other part is stations manipulating,” Mehl said. “As a consumer, you can go onto websites and learn all kinds of different ways and additives to get your car to barely pass a smog check.”

The roadside tests also revealed a high failure rate for cars that initially failed smog checks, were repaired and then were given passing grades after a subsequent test. Of those, 59% failed roadside tests within a year of the second station test.

“A significant number of cars that failed the initial test got repaired,” Cackette said. “But within days after a retest, we saw them on the roadside and they had high emissions.”

The roadside tests were compared with the station’s records for the same vehicles, and the results were analyzed in an independent report by Sierra Research, a Sacramento auditing firm. The firm reported its overall results last March, but the air board kept them under wraps until this week while officials prepared a legislative response.

Mehl said an improved data transmission system between the auto repair bureau and individual stations, installed last April, has allowed officials to focus on 200 stations that are “the worst of the worst.”

Before June 2009, only one or two stations were cited for fraud each year, she said. Since June, 22 stations have had their licenses suspended; 17 of them are facing criminal prosecution. The legislation would raise the ceiling on fines from $2,500 to $5,000.

Susan Ward, executive director of the California Emissions Testing Industries Assn., which represents smog-check testers, said her members do not object to stepped-up enforcement but added that fraud is less widespread than portrayed by state officials.

“Just because you are pulled over and don’t pass the test doesn’t mean there’s fraud,” she said. “These are the dirtiest vehicles. An old car with high mileage can float above and below the cutoff point in a smog check, depending on how long you’ve driven it, how it is maintained and what the outdoor temperature is.”



“The Best show we ever attended” John Jarasa / Heavy Hitters Magazine Editor

Come visit Japantown Center Mall and see the industries top manufacturers and shops! Last Wekfest, over 8000 visitors witnessed Nor-Cal history! That’s right! 450+ of the SF BAY AREA , NORCAL and WEST COASTS ILLEST rides will on display for the 2nd annual WEKSOS INDUSTRIES Car Show – WEK’FEST!

No Rap star performances, No Motorcycle stunt shows, No Rock Climbing exhibitions and most importantly……………. No Outrageous Car Registration/Door admission fees!

No longer will you be disappointed or fooled like other shows.

WEKFEST set the bar and delivered an epic show for all automotive performance enthusiasts!

If you were there, then you know what WEKFEST is about!

Toyota Recall: Email sent from TORC

Dear Toyota owners,

As you are the proud long-time owner of a Toyota vehicle, recent news about Toyota’s recalls must be disheartening. However, we feel the media is taking this out of proportion. What’s done is done and now Toyota is all about correcting the issues and restoring public trust. We would like to continue supporting Toyota, as always, by what we do.

Here is a great article for you to read about the recall issue. We are glad not all media is trying to jump on Toyota.

E46 M3 Progressions Part V

Having had the VMR wheels on for about a month and searching for the right wheel set up it was time for some new shoes. Out with the old and in with the VOLKS! LE37’s are one of my faves and i couldnt pass up an aggressive figment and 10.5’s widths. Wheels can make or break a car and i think these are just right for my car and style. Enjoy the before, install, and after pics.
(also added pic was the production date of the wheels. Thought it was pretty sweet thy were 2months new straight from the factory)

Old School with a New Skool twist

Saw this ride in front of Luxor valet and HAD to take pics .. Really custom ride. Digital gauges, custom brakes, custom air ride suspension, custom (not so comfy) seat and custom projector headlighs with halos!! Not digging the Foose wheels but eh.. This thing is still insane!! Props to all the custom work and having a sweet vision of blending the new school with the old school.
Click the pics for the larger images.