Engine change


Ken Chambers
 

Hello fellow Arcaners.  Hoping the collective knowledge of this group can shed some light.

 

I’ve got a 1984 VW Westfalia camper van with the original 1.9L, 80 HP engine.  I want to do the popular Subaru engine conversion that will increase the HP to 120 to 170 depending on the engine year.

 

A company called Kennedy Engineering managed to get a blanket CA Smog approval if you buy their conversion kit and use a 1990’s ODB1 2.2L Subaru engine.  They did that kit some 20 plus years ago and those engines are approaching 30 years old now.  This would be the easiest path with regard to the Smog requirements but would only gain around 40HP.

 

The newer Subaru engines are much more desirable and would more than double the HP making it drive more like a modern vehicle, in addition to less pollutants and better overall fuel mileage.  The conversion shops install these later engines in Vanagons all the time but that puts the burden on California owners in getting them legally Smog approved on a case by case basis.  People do get them approved here but I’ve heard it could be a nightmare dealing with the Air Quality District Smog referees. 

 

The difficulty could be this.  Two conversion shops told me that some DTCs are triggered producing fault codes that have nothing to do with the engine.  Apparently the Subaru ECU is looking at a non-engine issue that isn’t present after the conversion.  That illuminates the CEL and a smog shop will fail (or not even test) the vehicle.  The work-around the conversion shops do is to put a switch on the CEL to turn it off.  Kennedy Engineering, however, has a list of “acceptable” codes that the Smog shops are to ignore.  But if I go with a newer non-Kennedy approved engine, I would have to convince a smog referee that those codes are acceptable.  Okay, good luck with that.

 

If I choose the “unapproved” more modern ODB2 engine what am I in for with regard to CA Smog approval?  Anyone have first hand knowledge or know of some service that handles such things?

 

We own a rental in Ashland, OR.  Is it possible to register the vehicle in Oregon for some period of time then re-register it back here in Calif?  What would that entail?  Would California DMV then accept a vehicle from out of state that is not necessarily smog compliant here?

 

Greatly appreciate any advice, wisdom or recommendations.


Geoff Kirkpatrick
 

I don't know the ins and outs of dealing with the smog referees, but I know that having the car registered in your name in a different state won't enable it to be registered here if it's non-compliant. If you own property in Oregon, your best bet might be to simply keep it registered there. Although, it is technically illegal to keep an out-of-state registered car in CA permanently without registering it here, so that's not a foolproof solution either.

Geoff K.


Matthew Spielberg
 

Someone that I know has a vehicle registered in Montana. A company, for a fee of less than $1000 formed a Montana LLC, registered the vehicle to the corporation, and mailed him the plates.

As I recall (memory may be faulty), the reason that folks are registering motor homes in Montana is that it is cheap. As I recall no sales or use tax, and registration may not have to be renewed.

https://www.49dollarmontanaregisteredagent.com/montana-vehicle-registration/renewal

Motorhomes are not a problem with the issue of "where does the vehicle reside", since, by nature, they are mobile.

This is done as a matter of course with motorhomes which are big and fancy and expensive to register in California.

Your results may vary.


On 6/8/2021 9:57 AM, Geoff Kirkpatrick via groups.io wrote:
I don't know the ins and outs of dealing with the smog referees, but I know that having the car registered in your name in a different state won't enable it to be registered here if it's non-compliant. If you own property in Oregon, your best bet might be to simply keep it registered there. Although, it is technically illegal to keep an out-of-state registered car in CA permanently without registering it here, so that's not a foolproof solution either.

Geoff K.
-- 
Matthew M Spielberg
21855 Redwood Road
Castro Valley, CA 94546
(510) 886-5751
(209) 586-0250


Craig Parada
 


No problem, until it is. This is from 2003, and the State has learned a few things since then. 


On Jun 8, 2021, at 10:59, Matthew Spielberg <mspielberg@...> wrote:



Someone that I know has a vehicle registered in Montana. A company, for a fee of less than $1000 formed a Montana LLC, registered the vehicle to the corporation, and mailed him the plates.

As I recall (memory may be faulty), the reason that folks are registering motor homes in Montana is that it is cheap. As I recall no sales or use tax, and registration may not have to be renewed.

https://www.49dollarmontanaregisteredagent.com/montana-vehicle-registration/renewal

Motorhomes are not a problem with the issue of "where does the vehicle reside", since, by nature, they are mobile.

This is done as a matter of course with motorhomes which are big and fancy and expensive to register in California.

Your results may vary.


On 6/8/2021 9:57 AM, Geoff Kirkpatrick via groups.io wrote:
I don't know the ins and outs of dealing with the smog referees, but I know that having the car registered in your name in a different state won't enable it to be registered here if it's non-compliant. If you own property in Oregon, your best bet might be to simply keep it registered there. Although, it is technically illegal to keep an out-of-state registered car in CA permanently without registering it here, so that's not a foolproof solution either.

Geoff K.
-- 
Matthew M Spielberg
21855 Redwood Road
Castro Valley, CA 94546
(510) 886-5751
(209) 586-0250


Michael Rhea
 

A note on Subaru engines. The 2.2engine is so much more reliable than the 2.5 engine No head gasket issues I have had many 2.2 Subarus all have gone over 300,000miles. I would go with the 2.2.  Mimr


On Tue, Jun 8, 2021 at 2:33 PM, Craig Parada
<craig.parada@...> wrote:

No problem, until it is. This is from 2003, and the State has learned a few things since then. 


On Jun 8, 2021, at 10:59, Matthew Spielberg <mspielberg@...> wrote:



Someone that I know has a vehicle registered in Montana. A company, for a fee of less than $1000 formed a Montana LLC, registered the vehicle to the corporation, and mailed him the plates.

As I recall (memory may be faulty), the reason that folks are registering motor homes in Montana is that it is cheap. As I recall no sales or use tax, and registration may not have to be renewed.

https://www.49dollarmontanaregisteredagent.com/montana-vehicle-registration/renewal

Motorhomes are not a problem with the issue of "where does the vehicle reside", since, by nature, they are mobile.

This is done as a matter of course with motorhomes which are big and fancy and expensive to register in California.

Your results may vary.


On 6/8/2021 9:57 AM, Geoff Kirkpatrick via groups.io wrote:
I don't know the ins and outs of dealing with the smog referees, but I know that having the car registered in your name in a different state won't enable it to be registered here if it's non-compliant. If you own property in Oregon, your best bet might be to simply keep it registered there. Although, it is technically illegal to keep an out-of-state registered car in CA permanently without registering it here, so that's not a foolproof solution either.

Geoff K.
-- 
Matthew M Spielberg
21855 Redwood Road
Castro Valley, CA 94546
(510) 886-5751
(209) 586-0250


Berkeley
 

Why is it that they always seem to want to put 4 cylinder engines in the VW busses? The EZ30 and EZ36 have better reliability records than the EJ25s and make  a good deal more power. They were also designed for compactness so are within a couple of inches on length. People pay crazy amounts of money for their Subaru conversions, so why not have another 100 HP?


From: ArcaneAutos@groups.io <ArcaneAutos@groups.io> on behalf of Michael Rhea via groups.io <dafmike@...>
Sent: Tuesday, June 8, 2021 6:55 PM
To: ArcaneAutos@groups.io <ArcaneAutos@groups.io>
Subject: Re: [ArcaneAutos] Engine change
 
A note on Subaru engines. The 2.2engine is so much more reliable than the 2.5 engine No head gasket issues I have had many 2.2 Subarus all have gone over 300,000miles. I would go with the 2.2.  Mimr


On Tue, Jun 8, 2021 at 2:33 PM, Craig Parada
<craig.parada@...> wrote:

No problem, until it is. This is from 2003, and the State has learned a few things since then. 


On Jun 8, 2021, at 10:59, Matthew Spielberg <mspielberg@...> wrote:



Someone that I know has a vehicle registered in Montana. A company, for a fee of less than $1000 formed a Montana LLC, registered the vehicle to the corporation, and mailed him the plates.

As I recall (memory may be faulty), the reason that folks are registering motor homes in Montana is that it is cheap. As I recall no sales or use tax, and registration may not have to be renewed.

https://www.49dollarmontanaregisteredagent.com/montana-vehicle-registration/renewal

Motorhomes are not a problem with the issue of "where does the vehicle reside", since, by nature, they are mobile.

This is done as a matter of course with motorhomes which are big and fancy and expensive to register in California.

Your results may vary.


On 6/8/2021 9:57 AM, Geoff Kirkpatrick via groups.io wrote:
I don't know the ins and outs of dealing with the smog referees, but I know that having the car registered in your name in a different state won't enable it to be registered here if it's non-compliant. If you own property in Oregon, your best bet might be to simply keep it registered there. Although, it is technically illegal to keep an out-of-state registered car in CA permanently without registering it here, so that's not a foolproof solution either.

Geoff K.
-- 
Matthew M Spielberg
21855 Redwood Road
Castro Valley, CA 94546
(510) 886-5751
(209) 586-0250


Ken Chambers
 

I've also heard the Subaru 2.2s are fairly bullet proof, perhaps because of their lower power output compared to the 2.5s.  The 2.2s are only around 40HP more than the early 1.9 waterboxer engines, even less in comparison to the later 2.1 waterboxers.  All waterboxer Vanagons are greatly underpowered.  I feel if I'm going through the motions I'd like to get more than just a little bit more power.  Subaru six cylinders are installed in Vanagons, just not in California thanks to the smog rules.  It's all pretty stupid.  More reliable, safer, cleaner, better mileage.  It shouldn't be difficult.  Weren't the current smog rules set in 1984 that ruled 1975 and older are exempt?  Any chance they'll one day up the smog exempt years a decade or so?  That's a long time without adjusting the exempt date.

FYI, any vehicle's CA smog history can be checked here:  https://www.bar.ca.gov/services/Vehicle/PubTstQry.aspx

On Tue, Jun 8, 2021 at 8:23 PM Berkeley <berkeley@...> wrote:
Why is it that they always seem to want to put 4 cylinder engines in the VW busses? The EZ30 and EZ36 have better reliability records than the EJ25s and make  a good deal more power. They were also designed for compactness so are within a couple of inches on length. People pay crazy amounts of money for their Subaru conversions, so why not have another 100 HP?

From: ArcaneAutos@groups.io <ArcaneAutos@groups.io> on behalf of Michael Rhea via groups.io <dafmike=yahoo.com@groups.io>
Sent: Tuesday, June 8, 2021 6:55 PM
To: ArcaneAutos@groups.io <ArcaneAutos@groups.io>
Subject: Re: [ArcaneAutos] Engine change
 
A note on Subaru engines. The 2.2engine is so much more reliable than the 2.5 engine No head gasket issues I have had many 2.2 Subarus all have gone over 300,000miles. I would go with the 2.2.  Mimr


On Tue, Jun 8, 2021 at 2:33 PM, Craig Parada

No problem, until it is. This is from 2003, and the State has learned a few things since then. 


On Jun 8, 2021, at 10:59, Matthew Spielberg <mspielberg@...> wrote:



Someone that I know has a vehicle registered in Montana. A company, for a fee of less than $1000 formed a Montana LLC, registered the vehicle to the corporation, and mailed him the plates.

As I recall (memory may be faulty), the reason that folks are registering motor homes in Montana is that it is cheap. As I recall no sales or use tax, and registration may not have to be renewed.

https://www.49dollarmontanaregisteredagent.com/montana-vehicle-registration/renewal

Motorhomes are not a problem with the issue of "where does the vehicle reside", since, by nature, they are mobile.

This is done as a matter of course with motorhomes which are big and fancy and expensive to register in California.

Your results may vary.


On 6/8/2021 9:57 AM, Geoff Kirkpatrick via groups.io wrote:
I don't know the ins and outs of dealing with the smog referees, but I know that having the car registered in your name in a different state won't enable it to be registered here if it's non-compliant. If you own property in Oregon, your best bet might be to simply keep it registered there. Although, it is technically illegal to keep an out-of-state registered car in CA permanently without registering it here, so that's not a foolproof solution either.

Geoff K.
-- 
Matthew M Spielberg
21855 Redwood Road
Castro Valley, CA 94546
(510) 886-5751
(209) 586-0250


Matthew Spielberg
 

I also like the fact that the State has approved that engine swap, and that there is an outside company (which makes the swap kit) that needs to preserve their reputation that the swap will work, and is smog legal.


On 6/8/2021 6:55 PM, Michael Rhea via groups.io wrote:
A note on Subaru engines. The 2.2engine is so much more reliable than the 2.5 engine No head gasket issues I have had many 2.2 Subarus all have gone over 300,000miles. I would go with the 2.2.  Mimr


On Tue, Jun 8, 2021 at 2:33 PM, Craig Parada

No problem, until it is. This is from 2003, and the State has learned a few things since then. 


On Jun 8, 2021, at 10:59, Matthew Spielberg <mspielberg@...> wrote:



Someone that I know has a vehicle registered in Montana. A company, for a fee of less than $1000 formed a Montana LLC, registered the vehicle to the corporation, and mailed him the plates.

As I recall (memory may be faulty), the reason that folks are registering motor homes in Montana is that it is cheap. As I recall no sales or use tax, and registration may not have to be renewed.

https://www.49dollarmontanaregisteredagent.com/montana-vehicle-registration/renewal

Motorhomes are not a problem with the issue of "where does the vehicle reside", since, by nature, they are mobile.

This is done as a matter of course with motorhomes which are big and fancy and expensive to register in California.

Your results may vary.


On 6/8/2021 9:57 AM, Geoff Kirkpatrick via groups.io wrote:
I don't know the ins and outs of dealing with the smog referees, but I know that having the car registered in your name in a different state won't enable it to be registered here if it's non-compliant. If you own property in Oregon, your best bet might be to simply keep it registered there. Although, it is technically illegal to keep an out-of-state registered car in CA permanently without registering it here, so that's not a foolproof solution either.

Geoff K.
-- 
Matthew M Spielberg
21855 Redwood Road
Castro Valley, CA 94546
(510) 886-5751
(209) 586-0250
-- 
Matthew M Spielberg
21855 Redwood Road
Castro Valley, CA 94546
(510) 886-5751
(209) 586-0250


Keith Murphy
 

FYI



Links to BAR approved aftermarket parts

The Bureau of Automotive Repair has approved engine swaps and aftermarket parts which are licensed to be used on CA vehicles - they have to meet “laboratory”  test requirements and be labeled by BAR.

Like my now sold 1981 AMC with 4.2L 6 cyl engine, there is a BAR approved fuel injection system to swap in place of the 40 year old 2 barrel stepper motor carburetor and some of the emissions accessories that it uses  - but you can’t just slam on any fuel injection you want and naively assume your swap is sanctioned, matters not that tail pipe tests look ok, its all the “laboratory” testing of the specific fuel injection kit that had to be assessed mounted on the AMC 6 cyl engine specifically - that’s the rub.
Same goes for the Subaru engine swap into VW’s - it’s a specific approval, you would have to apply to BAR to put the exact same  Subaru conversion into a Corvair van for  instance, and if you change the model of approved Subaru engine for one not approved, like a turbo 6 cylinder Subaru, you will have to run the bureaucratic gauntlet to get that specific 6cyl engine “laboratory” tested - now everyone else after you will slap you on the back and thank you for spending all your $ to make that engine swap legal in CA.



On Jun 9, 2021, at 11:21 AM, Matthew Spielberg <mspielberg@...> wrote:



I also like the fact that the State has approved that engine swap, and that there is an outside company (which makes the swap kit) that needs to preserve their reputation that the swap will work, and is smog legal.


On 6/8/2021 6:55 PM, Michael Rhea via groups.io wrote:
A note on Subaru engines. The 2.2engine is so much more reliable than the 2.5 engine No head gasket issues I have had many 2.2 Subarus all have gone over 300,000miles. I would go with the 2.2.  Mimr


On Tue, Jun 8, 2021 at 2:33 PM, Craig Parada

No problem, until it is. This is from 2003, and the State has learned a few things since then. 


On Jun 8, 2021, at 10:59, Matthew Spielberg <mspielberg@...> wrote:



Someone that I know has a vehicle registered in Montana. A company, for a fee of less than $1000 formed a Montana LLC, registered the vehicle to the corporation, and mailed him the plates.

As I recall (memory may be faulty), the reason that folks are registering motor homes in Montana is that it is cheap. As I recall no sales or use tax, and registration may not have to be renewed.

https://www.49dollarmontanaregisteredagent.com/montana-vehicle-registration/renewal

Motorhomes are not a problem with the issue of "where does the vehicle reside", since, by nature, they are mobile.

This is done as a matter of course with motorhomes which are big and fancy and expensive to register in California.

Your results may vary.


On 6/8/2021 9:57 AM, Geoff Kirkpatrick via groups.io wrote:
I don't know the ins and outs of dealing with the smog referees, but I know that having the car registered in your name in a different state won't enable it to be registered here if it's non-compliant. If you own property in Oregon, your best bet might be to simply keep it registered there. Although, it is technically illegal to keep an out-of-state registered car in CA permanently without registering it here, so that's not a foolproof solution either.

Geoff K.
-- 
Matthew M Spielberg
21855 Redwood Road
Castro Valley, CA 94546
(510) 886-5751
(209) 586-0250
-- 
Matthew M Spielberg
21855 Redwood Road
Castro Valley, CA 94546
(510) 886-5751
(209) 586-0250


Ken Nelson
 

How about cars that  are1972 or older?  Does Ca. have a "historic" or "classic" car category as some states do?  I had heard there is one, but has anyone ever found this category and what are the licensing costs??

In Mich I can get a historic plate for $30 good for 10 yrs for car event use - what about Ca.?

Ken

On Tue, Jun 8, 2021 at 12:57 PM Geoff Kirkpatrick via groups.io <britcarnut=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:
I don't know the ins and outs of dealing with the smog referees, but I know that having the car registered in your name in a different state won't enable it to be registered here if it's non-compliant. If you own property in Oregon, your best bet might be to simply keep it registered there. Although, it is technically illegal to keep an out-of-state registered car in CA permanently without registering it here, so that's not a foolproof solution either.

Geoff K.


Matthew Spielberg
 


When you get BAR approval for an engine swap in a car, that is approval for that one car.

If you take the exact same model in, you do the whole thing over again. Not blanket swap approval.

I did get BAR approval for an engine swap of an Acura engine into a Honda Civic. Prior owner did the swap, and got pulled over for lots of stuff. The judge said pay the massive fines, or sell it. 4 trips to the BAR station in Alameda.


Also note that K and N makes a replacement cone filter for the Nissan 240 SX. It comes with a piece of paper which says that the air filter is CARB approved. They also make the same filter with no approval document. Guess which one is more expensive.

On 6/10/2021 10:32 AM, Keith Murphy via groups.io wrote:
FYI



Links to BAR approved aftermarket parts

The Bureau of Automotive Repair has approved engine swaps and aftermarket parts which are licensed to be used on CA vehicles - they have to meet “laboratory”  test requirements and be labeled by BAR.

Like my now sold 1981 AMC with 4.2L 6 cyl engine, there is a BAR approved fuel injection system to swap in place of the 40 year old 2 barrel stepper motor carburetor and some of the emissions accessories that it uses  - but you can’t just slam on any fuel injection you want and naively assume your swap is sanctioned, matters not that tail pipe tests look ok, its all the “laboratory” testing of the specific fuel injection kit that had to be assessed mounted on the AMC 6 cyl engine specifically - that’s the rub.
Same goes for the Subaru engine swap into VW’s - it’s a specific approval, you would have to apply to BAR to put the exact same  Subaru conversion into a Corvair van for  instance, and if you change the model of approved Subaru engine for one not approved, like a turbo 6 cylinder Subaru, you will have to run the bureaucratic gauntlet to get that specific 6cyl engine “laboratory” tested - now everyone else after you will slap you on the back and thank you for spending all your $ to make that engine swap legal in CA.



On Jun 9, 2021, at 11:21 AM, Matthew Spielberg <mspielberg@...> wrote:



I also like the fact that the State has approved that engine swap, and that there is an outside company (which makes the swap kit) that needs to preserve their reputation that the swap will work, and is smog legal.


On 6/8/2021 6:55 PM, Michael Rhea via groups.io wrote:
A note on Subaru engines. The 2.2engine is so much more reliable than the 2.5 engine No head gasket issues I have had many 2.2 Subarus all have gone over 300,000miles. I would go with the 2.2.  Mimr


On Tue, Jun 8, 2021 at 2:33 PM, Craig Parada

No problem, until it is. This is from 2003, and the State has learned a few things since then. 


On Jun 8, 2021, at 10:59, Matthew Spielberg <mspielberg@...> wrote:



Someone that I know has a vehicle registered in Montana. A company, for a fee of less than $1000 formed a Montana LLC, registered the vehicle to the corporation, and mailed him the plates.

As I recall (memory may be faulty), the reason that folks are registering motor homes in Montana is that it is cheap. As I recall no sales or use tax, and registration may not have to be renewed.

https://www.49dollarmontanaregisteredagent.com/montana-vehicle-registration/renewal

Motorhomes are not a problem with the issue of "where does the vehicle reside", since, by nature, they are mobile.

This is done as a matter of course with motorhomes which are big and fancy and expensive to register in California.

Your results may vary.


On 6/8/2021 9:57 AM, Geoff Kirkpatrick via groups.io wrote:
I don't know the ins and outs of dealing with the smog referees, but I know that having the car registered in your name in a different state won't enable it to be registered here if it's non-compliant. If you own property in Oregon, your best bet might be to simply keep it registered there. Although, it is technically illegal to keep an out-of-state registered car in CA permanently without registering it here, so that's not a foolproof solution either.

Geoff K.
-- 
Matthew M Spielberg
21855 Redwood Road
Castro Valley, CA 94546
(510) 886-5751
(209) 586-0250
-- 
Matthew M Spielberg
21855 Redwood Road
Castro Valley, CA 94546
(510) 886-5751
(209) 586-0250
-- 
Matthew M Spielberg
21855 Redwood Road
Castro Valley, CA 94546
(510) 886-5751
(209) 586-0250


Lou
 

   
   
   
Hi Ken,               
    California used to have historic vehicle plates that were    
good for one time fee.   Then they changed that a annual    
luxury tax would be charged on the DMVs appraisal of    
that vehicle.   It's then became cheaper to buy a regular    
plate for an "old" car that has depreciated out.       
    Vehicle code 5051 addresses vehicles over 25 years old   
or are unique.   (Not to be confused with penal code 5150.)       
   
    Personal experience:   I bought the Superior Bus in Oregon.   
I used a friends address and paid $30 for two years registration.       
I took care to not get traffic tickets and once drove it to a car show   
in Spokane.    When I changed to California, the DMV charged   
$72 per year and they lost the Oregon title so now I don't have   
a clear Ca title.    The DMV could contact Oregon but refused   
to clear up their goof.           
            Lou           
1937 Chevy chassis with Superior bus body.   
   
   
   
   
           
                 
   
   
   
   

On 6/10/2021 10:54 AM, Ken Nelson wrote:
How about cars that  are1972 or older?  Does Ca. have a "historic" or "classic" car category as some states do?  I had heard there is one, but has anyone ever found this category and what are the licensing costs??

In Mich I can get a historic plate for $30 good for 10 yrs for car event use - what about Ca.?

Ken

On Tue, Jun 8, 2021 at 12:57 PM Geoff Kirkpatrick via groups.io <britcarnut=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:
I don't know the ins and outs of dealing with the smog referees, but I know that having the car registered in your name in a different state won't enable it to be registered here if it's non-compliant. If you own property in Oregon, your best bet might be to simply keep it registered there. Although, it is technically illegal to keep an out-of-state registered car in CA permanently without registering it here, so that's not a foolproof solution either.

Geoff K.