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CA smog check - catch 22

bought a used 92 Nissan pickup 4 cyl 5speed two years ago. I think the car was from CO. I’m in CA and registration came due. Did the required pre-registration CA smog check… All good except failed for “no” check engine light…

Thought it would be a lose connection or a bad bulb, so I pulled the instrument cluster, only to find a blank hole where the owner’s manual indicates that the check engine light will be… Looking closer, I see no check engine ICON, on the faceplate and no plastic lens for light transmission …good reason not to find a bulb!!
No info on Nissans built without the ch engine light on the web. Nothing on the CA DMV on exceptions for no ch engine lite…so I’m reaching out to the
Community. Anyone have this experience?

feed back would be greatly appreciated.

Ronnie K

In 1992, it would have a CEL no matter where it was sold in the U.S. So the bulb and or socket has to be there someplace…How did you get it registered two years ago without the CEL working?

This is ancient history and I’m guessing a bit due to a very fuzzy memory but I think some of the vehicles around this time did not have a CEL and required another method of code pulling.
I think there’s a diagnostic switch on the ECU and codes are read by watching the flashes of a green and red diode with green being multiples of 10 and the red being individual units.

The powers that be may have looked at the trucks as more of an off-road vehicle not subject to the same emission standards as others. Subaru used to consider them MPVs, or multi-purpose vehicles but I can’t remember if Nissan looked at it this way or not.

Of course, if no CEL is normal and the state of CA is demanding that you have one or else that brings up a sticky situation of what to do.

Do you have the owners manual, it should have something in it about that.

Okay is probably correct…In 1992, it was still the OBD-1 system, which was not standardized. It was not until 1996 that all vehicles used the standardized OBD-2 system. So in 1992, trucks might not have required a CEL, especially trucks sold outside California…

Go back and educate the emissions inspector who failed your vehicle…

Contact a Dealer and explain your problem. They may have some documentation to support your claim. Have the VIN handy. My guess, there is an error in the CDVM’s database for your model. You are probably not the first to have this problem.

I just checked a lot of Nissan forums and your problem is not rare. It seems that the 4 cylinder model 1992 pickups did not have a CEL if they were built in 1991 and early 1992. When was your pickup built?

You may have a case when approaching the emissions inspector about this. California 1992 models came with the CEL but 1992 models built for other states did not in the early production run.