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Carb Legal Buyers Guide - Tech-Knowledge

Buyer's Guide

Scott Tsuneishi
Oct 21, 2010
Photographer: Manufactures

California has long been recognized as one of the major air pollution problem areas in the world, and the state is constantly plagued by ever-growing emissions laws. To those of you in the rest of America, sitting back laughing at our stringent motor vehicle code and thinking mandates like those set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) don't apply to you, you may be in for a surprise. In recent years, many states have experienced air pollution problems similar to those suffered by Californians. Instead of these states spending gross amounts of capital to enact their own sets of emissions laws, the federal government is offering them an easy way out: adopt California's requirements.

As of press time, thirteen other states have since adopted certain California standards: Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. Regardless of how much CARB legislation is enforced in your area, you can bet something like it is coming soon. We've complied a list of 25 CARB-certified performance products that can alleviate your fear of getting pulled over, hood-popped, and persecuted for tuning your import now and in the future.

Intake Manifolds

Edelbrock Victor X
Applications: Honda B-series engines
MSRP: $331.00 to $351.00
Optimized for maximum power at elevated rpm (from 7,000 to 10,000 rpm), the Victor X manifold is designed for extreme turbo, nitrous, or all-motor applications. Engineered for high performance, this manifold has four additional bosses for nitrous or added fuel injectors. Also available with four extra machined injector bosses and an optional aluminum fuel rail.
Note: Dual-rail conversion is not CARB legal.
www.Edelbrock.com / 310.781.2222

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Edelbrock Performer X
Applications: Honda B-series and D-series engines
MSRP: $324.00 to $389.00
Edelbrock's Performer X intake manifolds are engineered for built, street/strip Hondas and Acuras. The larger-than-stock plenum volume and nine-inch runners are tuned for producing peak power at mid-high rpm. Ideal for all-motor and turbo applications, these offer bolt-on installation, and can be upgraded to an eight-injector system by purchasing a secondary fuel rail kit and drilling through the partially machined secondary injector bosses.
Note: Dual-rail conversion is not CARB legal.
www.Edelbrock.com / 310.781.2222

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Skunk2 Racing Pro Series
Applications: Honda B-series engines
MSRP: $275.99 to $299.99
Skunk2's cast-aluminum Pro Series intake manifolds for Honda's B-series engines feature larger plenums and oversized runners when compared to Honda's Integra Type R manifold, resulting in significant horsepower and torque gains. Pro Series manifolds were designed for street enthusiasts who want more power but don't want to sacrifice mid-range performance to get it. Skunk2 offers applications for all B-series engines, thanks to three separate flange designs, and all manifolds are compatible with factory sensors and throttle bodies as large as 75 mm. Pro Series intake manifolds are available in raw aluminum, as well as black and red wrinkle-coated finishes.
www.skunk2.com / 951.808.9888

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Intakes

K&N High-Flow Intakes
Applications: Various
MSRP: $110.00 to $437.75
By replacing the factory air intake assembly, K&N's High-Flow intake is claimed to be good for a peak horsepower gains at 5,500 rpm in Nissan 350Z applications (shown here), with additional power produced throughout the powerband. Installation is purely bolt-on, using factory holes and included mounting hardware.
www.knfilters.com / 800.858.3333

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Racing Beat High-Flow Intakes
Applications: '90-'05 Mazda Miata
MSRP: $190.00 to $215.00
The High Flow Air Inlet Assembly for the Miata combines the advantages of a low-restriction K&N air filter with a smoother air passage into the factory air meter assembly to improve airflow.
www.racingbeat.com / 714.779.8677

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Jim Wolf Technology POP-Charger Air Intake Systems
Applications: '07+ Nissan 350Z/ Infiniti G35, G37
MSRP: $184 to $395
At the heart of every Jim Wolf Technology (JWT) POP-Charger is a six-inch aluminum venturi (velocity stack) that can maintain laminar airflow to over 600 hp and is the same unit included in all JWT twin-turbo systems. This intake is said to outperform extended piping systems without the risk of ingesting water due to remote filter positioning. Additional cold-air shielding is available for most models.
www.jimwolftechnology.com / 619.442.0680

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AEM Cold-Air Intake System
Applications: Various
MSRP: $393.11
AEM's EVO X induction system is said to pack massive power and torque gains, originating from the all-new Stealth air box design. Each AEM intake system is flow-bench engineered and dyno-tuned to maximize broad-spectrum power/torque performance in its particular application.
www.aemintakes.com / 800.992.3000

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Injen Cold-Air Intakes
Applications: Various
MSRP: $246.00 to $289.00
Injen offers induction kits and cold-air extensions for a wide range of import applications, including the Subaru WRX ('02-'06 unit pictured here). All intakes feature 6061 aluminum construction with TIG-welded brackets, CNC-milled flanges, and Injen's proprietary urethane filter with a built-in velocity stack.
www.injen.com / 909.839.0706

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HKS Racing Suction Reloaded Intake Kits
Applications: Various
MSRP: $325.00 to $1,035.00
The Racing Suction Reloaded Intake series utilizes HKS's high-flowing, wet, two-layer dual-density polyurethane filter element to maximize performance. The Reloaded air filter assembly maintains HKS's race-proven and patented Super Funnel design, but also incorporates new technical advances for improved performance and filtration for street applications.
www.hksusa.com/ 310.491.3300

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Camshafts

Skunk2 Racing Tuner Series Stage 1 Camshafts
Applications: Honda B-series and H-series VTEC engines
MSRP: $611.99 to $633.99
First introduced in 1999, the Tuner Series camshafts' exclusive design has helped secure a number of wins for racing teams worldwide. The camshafts features OEM idle and low-speed emissions characteristics, which make them ideal for street and racing applications. Each Tuner Series Stage 1 camshaft is machined from high-strength, chill-cast billet iron alloy that's proprietary to Skunk2 and remains one of the only CARB-approved Honda camshafts in the world.
www.skunk2.com / 951.808.9888

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Ignition

Okada Projects Plasma Direct Coil Packs
Applications: Various
MSRP: $599.00 to $1,149.00
The Plasma Direct ignition coil system uses a high-power amplifier to produce four times more spark energy than stock coils and also generate an ultra-fast, multi-spark discharge at high rpm. The Plasma Direct system increases spark amperage by 100 percent, allowing a more efficient spark that increases combustion efficiency.
www.okadaprojects.com / 949.583.7800

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HKS Twin Power DLI
Applications: Various
MSRP: $435.00 to $660.00
HKS's Twin Power ignition amplifier incorporates both CDI and transistor method ignition to provide optimum spark duration and maximum voltage output to maximize combustion efficiency, which can result in crisper throttle response, a smoother powerband, more power, and better emissions.
www.hksusa.com / 310.491.3300

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Throttle Bodies

Edelbrock Performer X Throttle Bodies
Applications: Honda B-series, D-series, and H-series engines
MSRP: $478.00 to $500.00
Designed by Edelbrock, these direct bolt-on 65mm throttle bodies come complete with a new throttle position sensor and bore area that's 18 percent larger than stock for increased performance. Edelbrock street-legal throttle bodies bolt directly to the stock manifold with mounts for stock sensors and vacuum lines. The large bore area is capable of enough airflow to supply a turbocharged drag engine making upwards of 800 hp.
www.Edelbrock.com / 310.781.2222

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Electronics

Hypertech Max Energy Sport Power Programmer
Applications: Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota
MSRP: $449.00
The Max Energy Sport Power Programmer was designed to optimize the vehicle's factory spark and air-fuel curves over the entire rpm band for more power while allowing the end-user to modify the vehicle's top speed, rev limit, check and clear engine diagnostic trouble codes (DTC), 0-60 throttle restrictions, and adjust the VTEC engagement point (if applicable) to customize the power band of the engine to compliment any additional bolt-on power adders.
www.hypertech.com / 901.382.8888

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Headers

DC Sports 3-1 Polished Stainless Steel Headers
Applications: Various
MSRP: $TBA
The popularity of V-6 applications in the sport compact market provided DC Sports an opportunity to design a unique 3-into-1 header system (Nissan VQ35DE model pictured) with equal-length primary piping that outperforms original equipment for more power across the entire rpm range.
www.dcsports.com / 626.968.5147

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DC Sports 4-1 Ceramic Coated Header
Applications: Various
MSRP: $TBA
The merge collector in DC Sports' 4-1 header systems (like the B16A model shown here) features a unique trapezoidal design that is proven to efficiently expedite exhaust gas flow by virtually eliminating turbulence-a design that also improves ground clearance. Each system is dyno-tuned and tested against the competition for maximum performance.
www.dcsports.com / 626.968.5147

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CT Engineering Stainless Steel Headers
Applications: Hondas and Acuras
MSRP: $529.00 to $1,699.00
CT Engineering stainless steel headers are manufactured with TIG-welded, T-304 stainless steel tubing for durability and appearance, and are designed to maximize mid-range power and torque. All headers (like the '06-'08 Civic Si model shown here) are cross-tested for precise fitment before they leave the factory.
www.ct-engineering.com / 916.635.4550

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Forced Induction

TRD Supercharger Kits
Applications: Various
MSRP: $3,200.00
The TRD supercharger kit for the Scion tC (pictured here) uses a compact shaft-driven centrifugal Vortech supercharger and includes new fuel injectors and a reflash of the factory ECU for supercharger recalibration. The TRD supercharger is developed in conjunction with Toyota to ensure that it is fully compatible with the OEM powertrain, with no compromise of the factory warranty, and includes its own warranty of up to five years or 50,000 miles when installed by an authorized Toyota or Scion dealer.
www.trdusa.com / 800.688.5912

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Stillen Supercharger Kits
Applications: Various Nissan
MSRP: TBA
Stillen's VQ37 supercharger systems for both the 370Z and G37 (seen here) is claimed to boost power from the stock 332 hp to over 500 hp on 91-octane pump gas. The kit features a quiet, self-lubricated Vortech V-3 centrifugal supercharger, cast aluminum intake manifold, air-to-water intercooler and all necessary hardware for bolt-on installation, and includes an ECU-reflash tuning option. The kit is currently CARB-pending, and comes with a limited engine warranty.
www.stillen.com / 800.250.5542

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HKS GT Supercharger Kits
Applications: '03-'05 Nissan 350Z (Non rev-up engine); '03-'04 Infiniti G35C (Non rev-up engine); '03-'06 Infiniti FX35 (Non rev-up engine)
MSRP: $4,500.00
HKS GT Supercharger kits provide OEM-level engineering quality combined with best-in-class reliability, efficiency, and quiet operation. Power/torque delivery is linear from any engine speed as a result of the GT Supercharger's Torque Response Traction Drive system. The GT Supercharger System is available for purchase through select HKS certified installers and pro dealers.
www.hksusa.com / 310.491.3300

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Greddy Bolt-On Turbo Kits
Applications: '00-'08 Honda S2000
MSRP: $5,599.00
The Greddy Honda S2000 bolt-on turbo kit was engineered with drivability, reliability, and performance in mind. The complete, simple-to-install turbo kit includes a Type-28 front-mount intercooler and pre-programmed Greddy eManage engine management system for the ultimate in street turbocharged performance.
www.greddyusa.com / 949.588.8300

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HKS Bolt-On Turbo Kit
Applications: '07-'08 Honda Fit
MSRP: $3,495.00
The HKS Honda Fit bolt-on turbo kit was developed with reliability and performance in mind. The simple-to-install turbo kit includes a front mount intercooler and a pre-programmed HKS F-Con IS engine management system to maintain the proper fuel and timing.
www.hksusa.com / 310.491.3300

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Vortech Supercharger Kits
Applications: Various
MSRP: $3,787.00 to $6,258.00
Vortech supercharger systems (like the S2000 unit seen here) include a compressor-matched, CAD-designed and machined Vortech centrifugal supercharger with SQ technology for "super quiet" operation, a calibrated fuel system for proper fuel management, a high-performance ignition system with boost timing retard for proper timing, custom ECU tuning, a high-flow air intake system with a K&N air filter, and all necessary lines, clamps, and hardware.
www.vortechsuperchargers.com / 805.247.0226

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Jackson Racing Supercharger Kits
Applications: Various
MSRP: $2,995.00 to $3,295.00
Jackson Racing supercharger kits ('94-'00 Integra kit pictured here) represent some of the most reliable aftermarket forced induction systems available. Each kit is based on a positive displacement Eaton blower that makes power from off-idle to max rpm without any spooling or lagging. All Jackson Racing supercharger kits come with all needed parts, including the blower, belts, fuel enrichment provisions, and hardware.
www.supercharger.com / 888.888.4079

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CT Engineering NSX Supercharger Kit
Applications: '91-'05 Acura NSX
MSRP: $9,900.00
CT Engineering's NSX Bolt-On Supercharger Kit is the only CARB legal supercharger package for the Acura NSX, adding a claimed 70 whp in the most reliable street/strip package available. Enjoy the kit in stock form, or crank up the boost for an unbelievable NSX track star.
www.ct-engineering.com / 916.635.4550

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The Truth Behind CARB Certifications

Q&A with Jim McFarland, SEMA technical consultant, on CARB parts certification.

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What is CARB and what do they do?
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is charged, in part, with the certification, regulation, and enforcement of virtually any environmental product or practice in the state that could potentially affect ambient air quality.

How does CARB facilitate the certification of affected automotive products?
CARB handles the administrative process that includes responses to questions and the processing of certification paperwork. The agency also serves as a resource to assist companies affected by California's environmental laws.

What are the steps to getting products CARB certified?
Applicants must first identify the makes, model years, and engine families to be certified in the Executive Order (E.O.) process. They then obtain E.O. forms (either from CARB or the SEMA "Black Book" found on www.SEMA.org), and submit the required material to CARB. Applicants then contact an emissions testing facility to notify staff about pending testing. Upon CARB approval of the E.O. application, a "test letter" is issued to the applicant and testing begins. It is then the responsibility of the applicant to work with the test facility until satisfactory data are produced. The test facility submits its findings to CARB and, if all requirements are met, an E.O. is issued to the applicant. Currently, the EPA acknowledges a CARB E.O. as being "reasonable basis" for meeting the anti-tampering provisions in the Federal Clean Air Act, thus legalizing emissions-related parts for use outside the state of California.

How long does CARB certification last?
Typically, an applicant will certify to the latest model year (MY) for which the product will be sold. From that point, CARB may apply a "grandfathering" process. As an example, a tuning product may be issued an E.O. for MYs up to 2010, and generally, all prior MYs will be covered. If an applicant believes the O.E.M. tuning platform remains the same or essentially the same from MY 2010 to 2011 and CARB agrees, the agency may extend ("grandfather") the original E.O. to include MY 2011. If the O.E.M. tuning platform changed substantially from 2010 to 2011, chances are that the agency will require additional tests.

How does CARB legalization affect the tuning market?
In California and in those states that have adopted California's emissions standards, emissions-related products require certification to be acceptable during smog check inspections. These inspections generally include a "visual" test, where a vehicle is inspected to determine if any non-stock emissions-related parts have been installed. If installed emissions-related products have been certified, the smog check test proceeds. This latter phase consists of either a tailpipe emissions test or OBD-II readiness check, depending upon the regulations in play by the state where the vehicle is being tested. Right now, the trend is more toward OBD-II readiness checks, largely because of the expense of keeping smog check station testing equipment up to date year after year. An OBD-II readiness check only involves the use of a scan tool.

The author of SEMA's current version of the "Black Book," Jim McFarland is an automotive columnist and engineer, and was previously a member of the SEMA board of directors with over thirty years of experience in the performance products industry. The SEMA "Black Book" was written as a step-by-step guide to help member companies obtain CARB emissions certification, and is available for download in an electronic format on the SEMA website. For more information on CARB emissions certification or to download the "Black Book" files, visit www.sema.org/black-book.

By Scott Tsuneishi
247 Articles

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