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Can a california cat converter be removed if living in another state

how to remove the converter and replace it with another that is not Calif. strict. OR if it can run without even better! (it went out and I am on a limited income and cannot afford to fix it right now.)

It is illegal to do so by Federal law. Your no suppose to modify or remove any emissions equipment from your car. Plus, altering the emissions equipment will make the CEL light go on and stay on. To me, that is really annoying.

This may not have been as critical in pre-'96 cars, but you really need to keep it running with compatible equipment if you want the car to last. The computers are just to sophisticated to tolerate sub-standard parts.

BTW, how do you know the cat is bad? What diagnostics has been done?

UPDATE: I just wanted to add that the computer is programmed to read a Calif. cat. A non-Calif. cat may not pass the programmed tolerances. This may lead to some havoc with the computer.

I bet all Subaru’s use the same cat.

Do you live in a state where they conduct inspections and/or do emissions testing? If so, when you get a non-stock catalytic converter, your check engine light will be on and it won’t pass the inspection/testing. If they don’t do any testing or inspecting in your state, go to a local muffler shop and talk about low cost alternatives to the OEM catalytic converter. It won’t run any better, and your check engine light will stay on forever, but you might save two or three hundred dollars.

How bad is the current catalytic converter? Is it so clogged that it is affecting the way the engine runs, or do you just have a check engine light on? If the car is running okay, the best thing to do is drive with it the way it is until you can afford to get it fixed properly with an OEM catalytic converter or one that meets OEM specifications.

If it is cracked and you have an exhaust leak, you need to get it fixed right away.

Consider that the CEL (light) is there to alert you to a variety of problems. Often it can detect a problem before it becomes a bigger and more expensive problem. If you do something that causes the light to stay on, you loose all the capability.

If I’m understanding you correctly the real problem is financial.

How do you know the cat is bad? What are the symptoms? Has it been properly diagnosed? It’s possible that something much cheaper than a cat is bad.

I’m not aware of any late model car that’s not 50-state compliant. That means that for a given year, model, and configuration they all use the same cat.

If it is a cat, any aftermarket direct-fit converter will work and will save you hundreds over a dealer price. Price shop. You can save even more if you’re willing to do the work yourself, and we can help you with suggestions.

Removing smog-related parts is illegal. Then there are the warning lights that will never go off and the engine computer that might never adjust to assure optimum performance and economy.

I had it tested because the CEL was on and it was running bad , I thought the spark plugs were bad…the CEL comes on easily if my gas cap isn’t on really tight too so I have learned to ignore it since 02 when I bought the car new.
As to substandard parts…if the aftermarket parts work in 49 other states why can’t a calif car be retrofitted? Like reset the computer to the 49 other states.

I checked a local shop and they said they just cut out the cat leaving the sensors on either end. They said it won’t hurt anything. (they make a bung at each too)

I sure wish it was something other than the cat, but had it diagnosed on a comuter at a shop. I live in a very very remote midwestern area, low population and no emissions standard testing. Yes, it is a financial thing- retired tight budget. I checked O’Reillys for parts and they aren’t that expensive…a problem has been that when I call a shop they hear california and subaru and respond with “what, no I can’t help you” I guess I have an ‘alien car in farm country’!

What law is it? I know it is against the law in California, but I live in basically in the boondocks of OK now. I also was told the fuel efficiency and power will be better…

Aside from violating what I suspect is a federal law, if you remove the cat the car will pollute more. That happens no matter where you live, and we all have to breathe the same air.

Are you over-thinking this issue? Just go to a mechanic and ask for a price on a replacement catalytic converter. Don’t tell them it’s from Cali. You also didn’t tell us what year the car is. It’s quite likely that the converter is the same no matter where it was originally sold, as Caddyman suggested.

I worked in a contract defense plant for most of my adult life. Certification is a strange thing. To be certified anything, and I mean anything including a mobile home water heater, the industry has to set up standards for that certification, and get them approved, usually after testing in great detail. Then, they submit the individual units by s/n, and only those listed in that final certification process are legally certified. And, I believe they have to test a sampling of them from time to time to prove they still comply.

In our factory, the assembly operators had to be certified annually. The company had to develop a certification program, had to submit it for approval, and then had to document each and every person as having satisfactorily completed the certification program.

Ten years ago, I moved into an old mobile home, and the water heater was no good. I called a repairman, and he said he could be arrested if he used any water heater which was not certified for mobile homes

He admitted he had examined them in great detail, and the only difference he could find was the certified ones cost twice as much. Every piece was identical, except the certified ones were marked and labeled as certified which told you the company had gone through an expensive certification process.

I do not want to beat a dead horse, but certification is more than having the right parts. You can’t take a non-certified car and add parts and make it into a certified car. The entire process must be completed. I guess it is possible to get a car certified, but estimates I have seen run tens of thousands of dollars.

I am not a certification attorney, but I can believe it is a Federal offense to modify a certified car. Not saying it doesn’t happen, but I believe it is a legal offense. Everything else is.

This brings up another issue. There is no shame in having low income. The factors involved in real life sometimes put good people in poor jobs while not-good people have good jobs.

But, to have a car implies a certain minimum cost. Older cars are known to have a certain minimum annual maintenance cost.

I understand you to imply you can’t even afford to install a new gas cap, or maybe you have done what is called penny-pinching, thinking you can get by. You need to do some real soul searching to see if there is any way to adjust spending on other issues, or increase hours worked, to keep this car running properly.

Sometimes people have enough money, but set different priorities, hoping to cut corners on things like car maintenance for personal preferences. At some time, one must accept reality that a car takes a certain minimum expense if one does not want to ride a bicycle to work.

If you can properly repair this car now by adjusting expenses on other things, I would recommend you do it. In the future things might get really bad financially, and then you will be up a creek without a paddle. You do not want to enter a period of sickness or unemployment with a car that has been allowed to go without proper maintenance.

I assure you, it is possible you are already in that state. My thoughts are to look it over and do what you can. And, I certainly do not intend to offend.

Federal law. The Clean Air Act of 1998 specifically states that you canot tamper with the function of emissions control equipment, and can subject you to a fine of $10,000 per occurrence. To you and the shop that did it.

IF your caught. Since you have no mandated emissions inspection, chances are extremely low. But, I’m in an emissions-sensitive area, and I could never get my car tagged legally by doing this modification.

Thank you for your comments, I am not offended. I am retired and working as a housekeeper to supplement my income. My car is an 02 and I truly had hoped it would be my last auto, and with good care I still hope it will be. I love the car. I have decided to buy universal parts and have a muffler shop install them. It will take my entire 2 weeks pay to do it but I would be up a creek without it! And if I am going to use a paddle I would rather it be in my Kayak when I am doing it! I really don’t spend money on frivolities and I am environmentally conscientious-so creditors can wait. I’ve been through the health issue and that is what got me in the financial situation to begin with …I suppose I need to rely on my life perspective and philosophy- I am thankful I am alive to have this problem to deal with! thanks again

No , I am not over thinking the issue. I did go to a mechanic who took one look at it and could see it had a California CAT on it. He wouldn’t touch it and sent me on a virtual goose chase. Thus, this advise forum. I appreciate your input, I did find a muffler shop to install a universal front and back CAT. Thanks.

Whitey,why would a non OEM catalytic converter be anymore prone to be the cause of a check engine light than a OEM part? You seem to think there is no chance at all a non OEM cat. will work for any lenght of time.

Oldschool, this is based on experience. I am not talking about the cheap $79 catalytic converter older cars have. I am talking about the $700-$900 catalytic converter that doubles as the exhaust manifold. If you buy a cheaper non-OEM catalytic converter of this type, the shop that installs it will not guarantee that the CEL light won’t come back on. In this case, you get what you pay for, and the car’s computer closely monitors the efficiency of the catalytic converter. When you buy a cheaper one, the computer will know the difference.