V8 swap in California? - JKowners.com : Jeep Wrangler JK Forum
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post #1 of 57 Old 03-07-2018, 03:44 PM Thread Starter
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V8 swap in California?

Just curious if anyone has pulled this off successfully. I have heard that Motech can do this but I am not a believer.

The issue is with finding a suitable donor vehicle. Many years ago, I had a California smog license (BAR 90). Beyond that I have read a fair amount about this and I have also spoken to the referee on a few occasions about the swap.

The issues as I know them are as follows:

1) The motor has to come from a vehicle that is the same year or newer than the recipient vehicle. Furthermore, it has to be the same class of vehicle. In other words, it has to come from another SUV to go into your SUV/Jeep. It cannot be from a passenger car or from a truck. Crate motors are a non-starter.

2) The transmission and transfer case options need to match as well and this is probably the sticking point. In other words, you need to maintain the same transmission type (manual vs automatic) and also the same number of gears. On top of that, it needs to be the same style of transfer case. Our Jeeps are a true 4x4 whereas the otherwise qualified donor vehicles are AWD. This is why even a late model swap from Jeep grand Cherokee won't fly here in California.

I think that I remember reading about someone on this forum or perhaps another where they did the swap and thought that it would go through, only to get failed at the end of the day (after work all done) due to the transmission mismatch ("AWD" vs "4WD").

Who has done a successful and legal swap here in California that also does NOT have a Nevada address where you have been to a referee station for the initial inspection and passed? Asking about a Jeep JK here versus some other vehicle.


Hey Motech - if you guys are reading this, it would be great to understand what you guys are doing differently in order to make this fly here in California.

Last edited by White13JKUR; 03-07-2018 at 03:48 PM.
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post #2 of 57 Old 03-07-2018, 04:48 PM
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Jeep Speed Shop up in Cotati, CA do swaps all the time.....at least they used to.
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post #3 of 57 Old 03-07-2018, 05:22 PM Thread Starter
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I forgot about those guys. I spoke to Todd a couple of years ago.

Looks like they have good info posted here:
Emissions - Jeep Speed Shop

In that article, they corroborate what I am saying in the 1st point and this narrows down your list of potential donor vehicles/engines.

"The engine must be the same year or newer than the vehicle.

The engine must be from the same type of vehicle (passenger car, light-duty truck, heavy-duty truck, etc.) based on gross vehicle weight.
"

It was the referee station that told me the transmission and transfer case type need to match as well. No mention of that on Todd's page. Plus I think someone reported failing the check due to that very reason.

As is described on the web page, I did make an appointment with the referee and spoke with them real time.

The other bit is that Todd has some pretty mixed reviews out there and some of that is true - like the reviews claiming the phone is never answered and the mailbox is full.

EDIT:
Couple of things....

Manual transmission folks like me are SOL no matter what because there are no qualified donor vehicles with a manual V8.

Also, I just found that thread where the guy failed at the referee due to the transfer case.

https://www.jkowners.com/forum/modifi...swap-smog.html


EDIT 2:
Just found Motech's response in this thread:
https://www.jkowners.com/forum/modifi...ng-myself.html

See post #6 in that thread here where they claim that the 4.8 LS3 might be an option for manual transmission folks:
https://www.jkowners.com/forum/modifi...ml#post2854553

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post #4 of 57 Old 03-07-2018, 05:54 PM
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Hi,

Full disclosure:
- I want a 100% on-the-level legal LS swap. Cash on hand, ready to make it rain for Motech or whomever can make this happen without the wrath of the BAR-tards ruining my day.
- I'm woefully ignunt about how people get swaps thru the DMV or BAR. I know they do it. I know they drive around for years with no issues. I get it.
- The following is my experience dealing with the BAR, which is basically just a extension of Satan's left nut.

There is so much misinformation about getting a V8 swap done in CA it's frustrating. I called the DMV and they referred me to the BAR. I called the BAR and they scheduled an appt. with me to speak directly to a ref in Sacramento.

The ref was very knowledgeable about LS swaps in Jeeps and said flat out, that based on their interpretation of the law, it will not pass the BAR inspection. He said that while there are shops like JSS (and others) that perform the swap and get it successfully refed either by a loose ref at the BAR or through the DMV, if the BAR catches wind of the swap they can request the vehicle come back in for another review.

He said the vehicle can / might be flagged for review for any number of reasons, including a smog check, getting pulled over by law enforcement or a DMV / BAR employee triggering a query.

The BAR guy was bragging that he recently had a guy try and get his swap reffed and upon failure, told the ref how the shop he used was able to get swaps through the DMV. The ref guy told me they were going to try and determine which vehicles they dealt with and pull them in for a BAR ref. He said it was some shop down in Fresno.

He said that even with an appropriate engine, transmission and smog equipment combination, at the end of the day, the scanner will report a VIN with a V6 and not a V8. He said thats an instant fail. He said attempting to modify it will be an instant fail.

He mentioned the whole CARB exemption for e-ROD engines for 95-and-under vehicles and said that there is a lot or interest in getting a CARB exemption for OBD-II vehicles.

Anyway, I'm sure none of what I said above is news to you. I'm not sure if the BAR guy is full of shit, but that's the uphill battle we have to go thru when engaging them.

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post #5 of 57 Old 03-07-2018, 06:27 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snout View Post
The ref was very knowledgeable about LS swaps in Jeeps and said flat out, that based on their interpretation of the law, it will not pass the BAR inspection. He said that while there are shops like JSS (and others) that perform the swap and get it successfully refed either by a loose ref at the BAR or through the DMV, if the BAR catches wind of the swap they can request the vehicle come back in for another review.

He said the vehicle can / might be flagged for review for any number of reasons, including a smog check, getting pulled over by law enforcement or a DMV / BAR employee triggering a query.

Anyway, I'm sure none of what I said above is news to you. I'm not sure if the BAR guy is full of shit, but that's the uphill battle we have to go thru when engaging them.
As mentioned, I also spoke to the referee after making an appointment. I too found them knowledgeable and pretty clear on the details, including the bit on the transfer case which was later corroborated by elusive in his post.

I would be scared of being flagged. Sounds like @elusive got flagged in the system and will NEVER pass at this point without a transfer case change. The BAR guy was not full of it, that is probably very true. Back when I got my license, the BAR had us all scared for passing cars that should be failed. They visit smog shops under cover and they will fine you as well as the shop and retract licenses.

It sounds like the transfer case point is sufficient to deny the swap regardless if it is a manual or auto transmission.

Mothech is saying that the LS3 4.8L might work for a manual trans swap but I think the sticking point is finding a donor vehicle with the right transfer case. Would anyone go through this just to get the 4.8? Does not really seem worthwhile.
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post #6 of 57 Old 03-07-2018, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by White13JKUR View Post
As mentioned, I also spoke to the referee after making an appointment. I too found them knowledgeable and pretty clear on the details, including the bit on the transfer case which was later corroborated by elusive in his post.

I would be scared of being flagged. Sounds like @elusive got flagged in the system and will NEVER pass at this point without a transfer case change. The BAR guy was not full of it, that is probably very true. Back when I got my license, the BAR had us all scared for passing cars that should be failed. They visit smog shops under cover and they will fine you as well as the shop and retract licenses.

It sounds like the transfer case point is sufficient to deny the swap regardless if it is a manual or auto transmission.

Mothech is saying that the LS3 4.8L might work for a manual trans swap but I think the sticking point is finding a donor vehicle with the right transfer case. Would anyone go through this just to get the 4.8? Does not really seem worthwhile.
I would say no go on the 4.8 manual trans as none of them were ever 4wd that I know, also most stoped in 2008 or so.


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post #7 of 57 Old 03-07-2018, 11:06 PM
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Originally Posted by White13JKUR View Post
Manual transmission folks like me are SOL no matter what because there are no qualified donor vehicles with a manual V8.
That's the conclusion I came to when I researched it. "Real Jeep" owners can't swap in real engines.

That "may" have something to do with me considering selling my JK and building a crusty old smog-exempt dinosaur.

I'd love to do an above-board LS3 / manual trans swap in my '10 JK, but this fookin' state blows goats.

Sad, because it would have better MPG and same emissions as my 1 gallon shitbox mill

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post #8 of 57 Old 03-08-2018, 08:39 AM
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We are in the same boat in Washoe county (Reno). Motech has told me they can get it passed in Clark county and it should be good here but local shops say they lab won't pass here.

Some build info here:
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post #9 of 57 Old 03-08-2018, 10:52 AM
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That's the conclusion I came to when I researched it. "Real Jeep" owners can't swap in real engines.

That "may" have something to do with me considering selling my JK and building a crusty old smog-exempt dinosaur.

I'd love to do an above-board LS3 / manual trans swap in my '10 JK, but this fookin' state blows goats.

Sad, because it would have better MPG and same emissions as my 1 gallon shitbox mill
The '95 or earlier e-ROD CARB exemption seems to be like the simplest option. Probably costly but has a simple punchlist of rules to follow.

Getting an address in a smog on transfer county does not guarantee that you won't receive a notice from the ARB.

Out-of-state LLC's won't work either. The BOE/FTB will pierce the corporate veil. The IRS will view your LLC as a hobby business and put you on notice.

Seems the only option is to move or live with the V6. 7k+ for a super charger just seems stupid to me.
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post #10 of 57 Old 03-08-2018, 03:23 PM
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We(I) got into a battle with the BAR several months ago. An improper inspection was done by a referee and it was covered up by the guys in Sacramento. I challenged the ref's inspection, the regional manager(completely incompetent) then the senior engineer of the BAR.

To make a long story short what they are doing in California is borderline illegal. I got the department of consumer affairs involved(DCA) since they oversee the Bureau Chief. It almost went too, and still may go to the AG.

Bottom line is the DCA forced the BAR to the negotiating table with us since it was determined they were full of it. The BAR and MoTech are now working together, an outline has been established that will have the Sacramento guys blessing. We are preparing a couple JK's to go to CA as I write this for a detailed inspection and determination of a certified configuration.

This is where all the BS I spit out comes into play, factory harnesses, factory modules and calibrations, blah, blah, blah. First thing they threw out there was the hand made harness so I explained the harness is OE GM approved by the USEPA. Then the module, calibration, exhaust, intake.......a lot of stuff.

The BAR is going to do a full inspection on these JK's, check the origin of components and even the CVN's(CA has acess to manufacturer CVN's starting in 2015), they must be exact.

And yes the transmission, network and even fan control is part of the inspection. This means the JK's going to CA will have BCM's until an EO is obtained for the CAN module.

Use common sense, so a Chrysler 5 speed behind an LS3 will not work. A manual transmission behind a Gen IV 5.3 or 6.2 truck engine intended for an automatic will not work. A 2015 LS3 in a JL will not work..... We are starting out with the Gen IV 5.3 and 6.2 truck engines which almost all our swaps in CA are currently. There are many reasons for this. The intake on the LS3 engines is difficult to support do to the shape and the fact they run a carbon filter. Gen III engines are not legal for the most part due to the age. We will work on the LT engines next for the later model Jeeps.

A lot of what you hear is what Sacramento politicians want you to hear. We challenged them and did not run away.

Stay tuned.
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post #11 of 57 Old 03-08-2018, 03:54 PM
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Thank you for fighting for this!!

Are the rumors of needing the transfer case true?
Or can we run an atlas etc?
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post #12 of 57 Old 03-08-2018, 03:56 PM
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Thank you for fighting for this. A lot of people in CA want to do the right thing and swap within the actual confines of the law -- not an arbitrary, radicalized interpretation of the law, which so much of Sacramento is ruled by.

Here's to hoping my '15 Manual can be swapped some day.
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post #13 of 57 Old 03-08-2018, 06:57 PM Thread Starter
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@MoTech Thanks for fighting this and posting about it. Lots of investment on your part in time and money.

I would love to have an NA manual trans V8. My Pentastar+FI+WMI with an opened up intake, exhaust and custom tune really puts it down for now. The engine itself pulls hard into redline and runs like a Maserati. It doesn't sound as cool but still sounds good.
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post #14 of 57 Old 03-09-2018, 07:21 AM
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Yes thanks Motech!! Nothing surprises me about California on emissions or firearms! I am surprised though on Nevada since Vegas is really the only big city and there is endless miles of open desert. Not likely to be brown cloud prone. Luckily only the Front Range here in Colorado has emission testing.......for now.
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Yes thanks Motech!! Nothing surprises me about California on emissions or firearms! I am surprised though on Nevada since Vegas is really the only big city and there is endless miles of open desert. Not likely to be brown cloud prone. Luckily only the Front Range here in Colorado has emission testing.......for now.
Not all of the front range. El Paso County oh how I miss thee
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post #16 of 57 Old 03-09-2018, 08:45 AM
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Thanks MoTech for fighting the fight.
I noticed that no one will show me any rules that are written down. they simply tell me the law and that I am not in compliance.
If I could just get a hold of the written laws I could challenge them, I think they know this and purposefully keep the rules from us.
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post #17 of 57 Old 03-09-2018, 10:10 AM
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Move! Aside from the climate and terrain I canít see why anyone would want to deal with the bullshit there. It seems as if the folks running the show there get more and more ARBish.
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post #18 of 57 Old 03-09-2018, 10:27 AM
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Thanks MoTech for fighting the fight.
I noticed that no one will show me any rules that are written down. they simply tell me the law and that I am not in compliance.
If I could just get a hold of the written laws I could challenge them, I think they know this and purposefully keep the rules from us.
Funny, I just got of the phone with the BAR call center. I specifically asked why the actual certified processes and procedures for a successful swap are not documented or available from a ref. In between what sounded like a horrible stutter or nervous tick, he spit out that "open heart transplants are not documented either". I informed him that since he's answering a call center phone for the BAR at 8am, he probably did not make it thru med school. The conversation kind of fell apart at that point. I notice people with speech impediments have escalated symptoms when they get agitated. I think I triggered him on what he thought would be a relaxing purple shirt Friday.

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post #19 of 57 Old 03-09-2018, 10:56 AM
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Funny, I just got of the phone with the BAR call center. I specifically asked why the actual certified processes / procedures for a successful swap are not documented or available from a ref. In between, what sounded like a horrible stutter / nervous tick he spit out that open heart transplants are not documented either. I informed him that since he's answering a call center phone for the BAR at 8am, he probably did not make it thru med school. The conversation kind of fell apart at that point. I notice people with speech impediments have escalated symptoms when they get agitated. I think I triggered him on what he thought would be a relaxing purple shirt Friday.


Now That's Funny .
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post #20 of 57 Old 03-09-2018, 12:14 PM
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There are two basic entities in CA. The ARB(air resource board) and the BAR(bureau of automotive repair).

The ARB can write regulations and issue executive orders. Manufacturers can apply for an EO and the ARB will test the device and determine if it diminishes the pollution control systems. If it does not an EO can be issued that can be used during an inspection to certify that device like a wavier. It can be an air intake, exhaust, supercharger...

The BAR is responsible for inspections, sort of. The Bureau is formed by the public to protect the public; however, as many of us know bureaucracies get out of control. Let's just say if certain individuals working for the BAR did not enjoy the immunities of the Bureau, and were subject to laws like the rest of us, they would be up on charges. I am truly shocked at the level of incompetence and criminal acts performed by the BAR.

The BAR is a disconnected series of entities that start with the Bureau which gets the private sector involved and Referee's end up in community collage auto shops. Most Ref's seem OK but they are given orders from above, Sacramento, to fulfill an agenda. This puts the Ref's in an awkward situation. What it all comes down too is interpretation. The BAR can interpret the law anyway they want making any mod illegal. Problem is this is not in the public's best interest and the DCA knows this. The Bureau is ultimately responsible too the public. The Bureau Chief is responsible to the DCA. Beyond this the Bureau employees can do what they want and interpret the law how they want, enforcement is political. Of coarse many swaps are passed by one Ref or another but they are acting on their own and probably rightfully so. The orders from up North are the problem, the decisions are not fact based but politically motivated. The Public can go to "Sunset hearings" where the Bureau is held responsible for their actions. The Chief can be replaced by the DCA and the public can decide if the Bureau is acting on their behalf. Recently the Bureau of guide dogs was shut down becase it was determined it was not needed.

An engine conversion is much more complex than an air intake swap so the process is complex. This is why using approved components like unmodified factory wiring harnesses and modules are important. Using components from a USEPA certified vehicle means you do not need an EO for it to be compliant. The BAR hit us and many others recently. Clandestine meetings were held and Ref's ordered to carry out orders. I have spoken to several Ref's that are frustrated about this.

We will continue to work with the BAR so they follow the spirit of the law. Problem is there are so many non compliant swaps using hot rod harnesses, hacked calibrations, monitors turned off.... that the BAR feels compelled to discriminate against all of us. We fought and proved we follow the spirit of the law. After months of negotiations we got the BAR to admit we are different, they even watch my videos

So in the best interest of all of us we will make our best effort to work with the BAR and ARB to make conversions available in CA. I grew up in Los Angeles doing V8 engine swaps in Toyota Pick up's in the early 1980's. We did many swaps in CA before the political environment got out of control. Most companies avoid CA but Socal is my home and I know many guys there that don't to be left out.
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post #21 of 57 Old 03-09-2018, 12:29 PM
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I really feel for you Cali guys. You definitely have an up hill battle that will always change to work against you. That just sucks. This is nothing new in Cali though.

Fun Cali fact:
I was born and raised in San Diego.

Back in '90-'91 I had a 72 Chevy 4x4 that I couldn't get smogged. I got a shit ton of expired tags tickets, followed by losing my insurance and my license. I spent thousands of dollars in court to get everything taken care of, followed by thousands more to get insurance and my license back. All was good.
Then I got pulled over and was told my license was suspended. Went into the DMV with all my paperwork, to find out how that could be possible, and ended up in a back office with a guy on the phone with some dude in Sacramento.
This is what I was told. Some body in Sacramento saw my driving record and felt that I had not sufficiently taken care of everything......so he just suspended my license right then and there. No letter, no nothing to me.

I went ballistic on the poor guy in the room with me, and the guy on the phone. Made the guy in Sacramento reinstate my license and to do it back in time before I had gotten the latest ticket for driving on a suspended license.

That's how the state works.


My point is this. You're never going to win. Robbie ( as great of a thing as he's doing) is never going to win. You might for a week, a few months, or maybe a year. But, you're playing a game where the rules change with the winds and are up for interpretation. In the long run, Cali will always win.

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post #22 of 57 Old 03-09-2018, 12:54 PM
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The other side of this is the ARB. We are working with ARB for an EO. An EO is a more permanent thing; in this event the BAR is no longer open to interpretation they must follow the order.

EO's can be revoked but it is rare.
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post #23 of 57 Old 03-09-2018, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by thedirtman View Post
We are in the same boat in Washoe county (Reno). Motech has told me they can get it passed in Clark county and it should be good here but local shops say they lab won't pass here.
I know this one guy, with a Vegas address, if you needed...



(which btw, makes zero sense since you're in the same state and (assumed) same laws...probably because they didn't get any kind of money on the testing...(?)

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post #24 of 57 Old 03-09-2018, 05:35 PM
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Motech,

Please keep us up to date on how things are going. I'm glad to see someone taking these agencies head on.

Not sure if true, I have read that many people making these moronic rules, don't even have knowledge that would help in making any of the laws.

Years ago, I read an article that the head of CARB didn't even have a degree (in anything) and yet was directing the agency to pass all of these emission laws. The way they ran emissions tests for diesels, well, it was completely insane. Anyone who knows/drives/works with the newer diesel trucks knows all the smog equipment on them and for what? Less power and fuel mileage, than the truck could make, crazy re-gen modes (pre-def) and whiz-bang gadgets that really aren't needed. So Cali's state diesel trucks were getting less mileage vs pre-particle filter/def that the CARB board allowed the State's trucks to remove the filter/smog equipment to increase their mileage. Tell me how that is allowed (fair)?

Like others have said, just because they say "good" one day/month/year doesn't mean the next is going to be "good".

I'm off my soap box now...

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post #25 of 57 Old 03-09-2018, 05:59 PM
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Motech,

Please keep us up to date on how things are going. I'm glad to see someone taking these agencies head on.

Not sure if true, I have read that many people making these moronic rules, don't even have knowledge that would help in making any of the laws.

Years ago, I read an article that the head of CARB didn't even have a degree (in anything) and yet was directing the agency to pass all of these emission laws. The way they ran emissions tests for diesels, well, it was completely insane. Anyone who knows/drives/works with the newer diesel trucks knows all the smog equipment on them and for what? Less power and fuel mileage, than the truck could make, crazy re-gen modes (pre-def) and whiz-bang gadgets that really aren't needed. So Cali's state diesel trucks were getting less mileage vs pre-particle filter/def that the CARB board allowed the State's trucks to remove the filter/smog equipment to increase their mileage. Tell me how that is allowed (fair)?

Like others have said, just because they say "good" one day/month/year doesn't mean the next is going to be "good".

I'm off my soap box now...
Typically the upper-level positions are appointed to termed-out politicians that need to reset their term limit before re-running for their chosen office. My spouse reports to one under a different agency, in the same building. You are absolutely correct that they are typically unqualified, lack experience and generally don't belong there. It is truly a culture of corruption and golden handshakes. The few times I've had to misfortune to be in the building, I've been subjected to the people who work there. They truly have their own special spot on the Autism spectrum.
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