SEMA's Suspension Task Force encourages technology sharing between the OEs and aftermarket
The EPA mandates emissions testing for street-driven vehicles in areas that haven't "attained" the required air quality. States regulate inspection/maintenance (I/M) programs. The seemingly logical approach of measuring acceptable tailpipe output rarely applies. Instead, onboard diagnostics (OBD) testing scans the PCM for emission-related error codes. I/M 240 adds visual inspection of emissions devices, an evaporative emissions test, and a transient drive-cycle exhaust emissions test, all performed while the vehicle runs on rollers.
California, traditionally a leader in legislative trends, subjects emissions-related aftermarket parts to CARB (California Air Resources Board) certification. All applicable aftermarket performance parts must be CARB-approved in order to pass the visual part of the state's smog test for nonexempt vehicles. The EPA recognizes that CARB-certified parts have a "reasonable basis" for compliance outside of California, so obtaining this approval is an ultimate goal for many aftermarket performance parts manufacturers.
SEMA points out that many inspectors mistakenly fail vehicles based solely on the presence of aftermarket engine products. If vehicle inspectors don't understand which modifications are smog-legal and which aren't, how many policymakers likely know the difference between legitimate aftermarket parts and ones that defeat emissions devices?
Jim Bramham (past California OHV Commissioner, Past President CA4WDC) chauffeurs a member
For diesel-emissions certification, CARB changed its testing procedure from a rear-wheel chassis dynamometer to an engine dyno in 2003. This added significant cost to the process, causing some diesel-performance manufacturers to label their products "Off-Road Use Only" rather than jump through the compliance hoops and costs. SEMA worked with CARB to return to rear-wheel dyno testing this year.
Further, CARB initiated a Products in Progress List due to its backlog of products awaiting certification. Diesel-performance components placed on this list have a one-year grace period for their manufacturers to complete CARB certifications. Inspectors can't fail a vehicle solely because of an aftermarket product that's on the In Progress list. Truck owners might need to educate inspectors if In Progress parts are on their vehicles.
Regardless, DPF delete products are definitely illegal for street-licensed late-model diesel trucks. California is issuing steep fines for newer diesels caught on the road without their DPFs (the tip-off normally being smoky launches).
SEMA is also lobbying for smog exemptions for low-mileage vehicles and classic vehicles (25 years old and older). Further, new-vehicle emissions inspections are a blatant consumer gouge; SEMA opposes testing these vehicles, which meet stringent EPA standards off the assembly line.
Other Aftermarket Equipment Guidelines
Exhaust: SEMA supports all exhaust modifications that comply with applicable state regulations and objective noise testing procedures.
"Gas Guzzler" Legislation: SEMA favors letting the market determine product viability instead of legislating larger and/or more powerful vehicles out of existence through penalty taxes and/or unattainable fuel-economy standards.
Tire Efficiency: Some states are proposing that replacement tires meet minimum fuel-efficiency standards. Aimed primarily at passenger cars, NHTSA is establishing a federal standard. SEMA successfully got exemptions for brands that don't produce more than 35,000 tires annually and for specific tires that aren't produced in yearly quantities of greater than 15,000.
Lighting: Some states are attempting to restrict aftermarket lights, particularly blue lights, noncompliant HID headlamp conversion systems, LEDs, clear taillamp covers, and marker lamps. SEMA supports the legality of aftermarket lighting products that comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). Although marketing unapproved lighting is illegal, DIYers who install these products are not targeted by federal enforcement personnel; non-DOT aftermarket lights might not pass state vehicle inspection.
Barring certain groups of taxpayers from "our" land is an emotional issue. Our readers and the off-road parts industry know that organized wheelers maintain existing trails and frequently clean up after (and sometimes rescue) so-called environmentalists in the backcountry.
Roads can be closed by Congress, the Forest Service, or the BLM. Once land is designated as wilderness, it is traversable only by foot or on horseback. The original intent was primarily ecological. The Wilderness Act of 1964 set aside 9 million acres of land. Currently, 110 million acres are designated as wilderness, with up to another 30 million being considered. The wilderness designation now seems more about flexing political power than about ecology.
Luckily, OHV-conscious compromises are becoming part of the process. One is to "cherry-stem" existing roads and trails, grandfathering them in for vehicular travel in a wilderness area. Another solution is a "backcountry" designation, permitting motorized activity on certain remote lands.
The widest-ranging bill was the 2009 Omnibus Public Land Management Act. This law created nearly 2.2 million acres of new wilderness in nine states, including areas in and around Joshua Tree National Park and the Eastern Sierras in California, Owyhee-Bruneau Canyonlands in Idaho, Mt. Hood in Oregon, Zion National Park in Utah, and the Sabinoso Wilderness in New Mexico.
Millions of acres of "primeval" federal lands are being scrutinized as Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) for possible closure. Congress can "release" WSAs that do not meet the wilderness criteria. Existing trails and other evidence of human activity technically disqualify an area for a wilderness designation.