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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 11-09-2016, 01:12 AM   #1
Ghetto Pistachio
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Turbo loophole California?

I've been thinking about ways to legally turbo my 330ci and pass visual in California. What if I take a turbo out of a junk car that comes with it stock and just buy a CARB certified turbo manifold and such. Would it make it legal but affordable?
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Old 11-09-2016, 02:15 AM   #2
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I've been thinking about ways to legally turbo my 330ci and pass visual in California. What if I take a turbo out of a junk car that comes with it stock and just buy a CARB certified turbo manifold and such. Would it make it legal but affordable?
Just get a smog hook up there are a lot of places in CA that will do it, but it will cost you. ($180 - $250)
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Old 11-09-2016, 10:57 AM   #3
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move from kommiefornia.
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Old 11-09-2016, 04:45 PM   #4
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You cannot legally pass the visual with a turbo installed. Cars that come from the factory with a turbo do not have a CARB label because they are certified in whole before they come up for sale. (The fleet is tested and certified and California knows before the first car comes up for emissions testing that there is a turbo option that might make the visual inspection on some cars different than others.) CARB certification is applied to add-on systems that materially change what came on your car when was originally certified. You _might_ get your scheme past the smog technicians if you find a CARB certified turbo that actually goes on a 330 (M54) engine. What will happen when the guy lifts the hood is, he will look in and see the turbo. If there is a CARB sticker, then he will look to see if the certificatin is good for your particular car, then he will look for a host of other items that are both taken off and installed. If all of the stuff that should be taken off is not off, you fail. If all of the stuff that should be on is not on, you fail. If the certification placard that he finds does not say that the system you have is certified for your car, you fail.

I once added a CARB certified MPFI on an '81 Jeep CJ5 with the inline 6 (258 ci). The technician looked at it but did not know what to do -- clearly he was confused with the CARB certification -- and he told the smog test machine that the vehicle was modified. It immediately failed. He did not appreciate the certification process and follow the directions that were clearly stated in the reference manual he had. He was supposed to verify the engine was the right one, then confirm that certain old parts were gone, and a handful of new parts were installed. Once he did that, then he was supposed to hook up to the machine and then tell it that the vehicle was a '94 instead of an '81, then do the test for the '94. When the vehicle failed after he entered, "modified," a failure notice got spit out. I came home and called the (800) number to the BAR, and explained that the car had the CARB certification clearly notated in the prescribed manner and location. He told me to take the car back to the same station and retest. I asked for the manager of the station, he told me that the kid on the floor was new and that the senior tech would be back on Monday and asked if could I come back then. When I went back, the tail pipe emissions were clean enough to eat off of.

If you are really wanting to get a turbo, do it right else it will be nothing but headaches every two years for the rest of your life. HINT, the CARB certification sticker that goes onto the vehicle does not come off without destroying it, so this makes moving a system from one car to another very difficult.

Last edited by jdstrickland; 11-09-2016 at 04:48 PM.
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Old 11-09-2016, 05:29 PM   #5
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You cannot legally pass the visual with a turbo installed. Cars that come from the factory with a turbo do not have a CARB label because they are certified in whole before they come up for sale. (The fleet is tested and certified and California knows before the first car comes up for emissions testing that there is a turbo option that might make the visual inspection on some cars different than others.) CARB certification is applied to add-on systems that materially change what came on your car when was originally certified. You _might_ get your scheme past the smog technicians if you find a CARB certified turbo that actually goes on a 330 (M54) engine. What will happen when the guy lifts the hood is, he will look in and see the turbo. If there is a CARB sticker, then he will look to see if the certificatin is good for your particular car, then he will look for a host of other items that are both taken off and installed. If all of the stuff that should be taken off is not off, you fail. If all of the stuff that should be on is not on, you fail. If the certification placard that he finds does not say that the system you have is certified for your car, you fail.

I once added a CARB certified MPFI on an '81 Jeep CJ5 with the inline 6 (258 ci). The technician looked at it but did not know what to do -- clearly he was confused with the CARB certification -- and he told the smog test machine that the vehicle was modified. It immediately failed. He did not appreciate the certification process and follow the directions that were clearly stated in the reference manual he had. He was supposed to verify the engine was the right one, then confirm that certain old parts were gone, and a handful of new parts were installed. Once he did that, then he was supposed to hook up to the machine and then tell it that the vehicle was a '94 instead of an '81, then do the test for the '94. When the vehicle failed after he entered, "modified," a failure notice got spit out. I came home and called the (800) number to the BAR, and explained that the car had the CARB certification clearly notated in the prescribed manner and location. He told me to take the car back to the same station and retest. I asked for the manager of the station, he told me that the kid on the floor was new and that the senior tech would be back on Monday and asked if could I come back then. When I went back, the tail pipe emissions were clean enough to eat off of.

If you are really wanting to get a turbo, do it right else it will be nothing but headaches every two years for the rest of your life. HINT, the CARB certification sticker that goes onto the vehicle does not come off without destroying it, so this makes moving a system from one car to another very difficult.
Or pay $180 - $250 every other year .
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Old 11-09-2016, 06:00 PM   #6
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Since you asked specifically, "legally", YES there is a way to legally have a turbo in your e46 and have CA plates, but it won't be affordable. If you look here https://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/afterm...rmktdevice.php it's clear that you can't just install a turbo, because there are no aftermarket turbos CARB certified for your 330. The only legal way you can do it is with a complete engine swap from a turbo'd engine (i.e. N54)...this includes the DME, all smog related items, fuel control items from the donor vehicle. Also read up on the CA BAR website about engine changes. It talks about having the same year or newer donor, having all emission parts working properly and requiring a visit to the BAR referee to get certified once you've done all the modifications, etc. But like I said, it won't be affordable.
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Old 11-09-2016, 06:38 PM   #7
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Or pay $180 - $250 every other year .
Not everyone wants to deal with shady people.
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Old 11-09-2016, 10:52 PM   #8
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Not everyone wants to deal with shady people.
Then follow the rules of your state!
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I am going to install M3 fender grill on my 323ci.
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This 323 would most likely handle and drive better than a stock e46 m3.
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Old 11-10-2016, 11:52 AM   #9
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Not everyone wants to deal with shady people.
Its also alot harder said than done. I own a old GM F-body that unfortunately needs smog. I had a sh1t ton of aftermarket parts and got 3 (6years) of 'friendly' smogs. It wasnt easy, it was a god damn full time job attempting to find some one who would do it. 3 years ago i went to get my 4th 'friendly'. Each time i went to call the last smog shop i got my cert from, they were shut down. This last time i could not find ANYONE. This was a thorough search of the WHOLE northern california area (bay area, sac, tri county valley area) who would want to put their name on my car.

Sure it can be done, but by what means?
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Old 11-10-2016, 11:54 AM   #10
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Legally it cannot be done. You cannot legally modify anything on the engine without a CARB approval on that engine. I have failed for a simple catch can that actually improves my emissions. Even my KN CARB legal intake was scrutinized.
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Old 11-10-2016, 07:32 PM   #11
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Its also alot harder said than done. I own a old GM F-body that unfortunately needs smog. I had a sh1t ton of aftermarket parts and got 3 (6years) of 'friendly' smogs. It wasnt easy, it was a god damn full time job attempting to find some one who would do it. 3 years ago i went to get my 4th 'friendly'. Each time i went to call the last smog shop i got my cert from, they were shut down.
Shut down for doing "friendly" smogs no doubt.

Why beat your head against a wall? If your car isn't fast enough buy a faster car. Hell, old M3's can do 13 sec 1/4 miles. That's pretty dam fast. Not fast enough? The newer M3's are doing 12 sec. That kind of speed wasn't even heard of back in the muscle car days.

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Old 11-10-2016, 07:46 PM   #12
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Shut down for doing "friendly" smogs no doubt.

Why beat your head against a wall? If your car isn't fast enough buy a faster car. Hell, old M3's can do 13 sec 1/4 miles. That's pretty dam fast. Not fast enough? The newer M3's are doing 12 sec. That kind of speed wasn't even heard of back in the muscle car days.
Some take pride in building a faster car. Its easy to drop money on a new car
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Old 11-10-2016, 07:51 PM   #13
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POINT OF ORDER
The OP has 1.) not been back, and 2.) this is his first and only post. I smell a troll.
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Old 11-10-2016, 09:29 PM   #14
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Some take pride in building a faster car. Its easy to drop money on a new car
A couple of monthly payments for a fast car could make my car almost as a fast as a fast car.
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Old 11-10-2016, 09:43 PM   #15
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A couple of monthly payments for a fast car could make my car almost as a fast as a fast car.
built not bought
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Old 11-10-2016, 10:04 PM   #16
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built not bought
Thats what Im going for. My brothers E34 M20 "TurboWagen" has more power and torque than our E90 M3, all in a budget build.
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Old 11-10-2016, 10:05 PM   #17
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Id rather have a ~400 crank 330 than a stock M4. Thats just me. Hell I like my stockish power 330 better than M4
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Old 11-10-2016, 11:01 PM   #18
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Shut down for doing "friendly" smogs no doubt.

Why beat your head against a wall? If your car isn't fast enough buy a faster car. Hell, old M3's can do 13 sec 1/4 miles. That's pretty dam fast. Not fast enough? The newer M3's are doing 12 sec. That kind of speed wasn't even heard of back in the muscle car days.
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Some take pride in building a faster car. Its easy to drop money on a new car
^ This is exactly it. The car itself is my baby and my lover. All the women ive dated say that car is the real thing im in love with and i agree with them! not going to lie but its also sentimental value. The car was my first car i ever owned and i got it myself for $1200 when i was 17 off a part time job. I learned how to wrench on the damn thing and its taught me so many lessons.

I've since had a mission to make it a quick street car..... The journey never ends!

Last edited by NorthernCAE46; 11-10-2016 at 11:58 PM. Reason: also
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Old 11-11-2016, 11:27 AM   #19
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POINT OF ORDER
The OP has 1.) not been back, and 2.) this is his first and only post. I smell a troll.
Maybe a CARB "secret shopper" looking for shady smog shop referrals? My local smog guy says he gets about two undercover inspectors per year asking him to bend the rules for cash.

He bought the shop from a guy who accepted a bribe from an undercover officer, and lost his license. Real steep fine too, something like $10k.
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