Last week, I had a long talk with Mike McCarthy (firstname.lastname@example.org) about OBD codes in California.
Mike manages the CARB OBD program for California (626-771-3614).
He is a very knowledgeable guy who knows the entire history of FTP drive cycles, OBD test requrements, and smog test laws and regulations.
He provided more detail than I could handle (most of which went over my head), but, it's important to note that the legislature voted to allow OBD-only tests in California, but, the infrastructure won't be in place by January next year - and most likely won't be in place for a while.
Mike said 31 states do smog tests but California had to fight the EPA to do decentralized tests. The EPA wanted centralized tests - so California implemented the 'hybrid' system of 'test only' stations and 'test-and-repair stations' to meet the EPA requirements of centralization. For the past year, they have been rating smog test & smog test-and-repair stations, giving each a STAR rating.
Today, every two years you have to get a smog test at either a test-only station or at a test-and-repair station. But, he said, fraud is rampant, so they're going to mail you a note that requires you to go to a station with a high rating. The system isn't in place, but an example would be a five-star rating where in order to register, you can only go to a five-star rated test station. They are doing this to cut down on fraud.
Another thing he told me is that a California dyno smog test cycle is NOT the BMW FTP test, nor the federal FTP-75 test (details at http://dieselnet.com
). It's a special shortened California-only version of the drive trace that works well on a dyno.
Mike also mentioned that it takes two cycles for a CEL to go on (first one gives the pending DTC); and it takes 3 complete drive cycles for the CEL to go out.
For more information, Mike suggested I contact smogcheck.ca.gov.
EDIT: For information on the OBD readiness monitors, I called the Department of Consumer affairs 800-952-5210 where you can actually talk to 'former mechanics' who are now 'technical advisors' or 'consumer assistance representatives' for the state of California who will discuss with you your smog test questions.
At the Department of Consumer Affairs, I spoke with "Marvin" who explained that, in California, a 1996 to 2000 vehicle can pass smog with 2 monitors not ready but that a 2001 to current vehicle can have only 1 monitor not ready and still pass smog tests. He said many technicians still fail the car because they want to have high STAR scores.
In addition, Marvin said that new OBD tests will check your air conditioning because they assume if your ac isn't working that you're leaking freon into the atmosphere just like they check your fuel system, again assuming vapors will leak out into the atmosphere. So it's not just engine emissions that are being monitored.