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CARB Compliance Services

About CARB Compliance Services

CARB Compliance Services operates through a team of certified, professional and knowledgeable individuals trained in Air Resource Board compliance. Our employees are trained and certified by the California Council on Diesel Education and Technology (CCDET), a cooperative venture of the Air Resource Board, meaning our trained professionals will provide you with the most efficient and effective compliance services possible.

Our company is based in Bakersfield, California and we have extensive personal experience in the operation of diesel equipment through a family of local businesses. We pride ourselves in fast, courteous business and would like to be the company you call on for your compliance needs in a way that is convenient for you.

What is diesel smoke opacity testing?

Opacity is the degree to which smoke blocks light, and the basis for measuring the amount of smoke coming from a diesel-powered vehicle. Poorly maintained or malfunctioning engines are sometimes the cause of excessive smoke.

During the "snap test," a probe is placed in the truck’s exhaust and the driver snaps the accelerator several times while the truck is in neutral. Test results are based on opacity levels and vehicle age.

A truck that is 1991 or newer may measure up to 40% opacity during the test. A truck 1990 or older may measure up to 55% opacity.
CARB Compliance Services professionals are educated in the field of diesel smoke opacity and methods of testing.

Why does State law require smoke opacity testing?

The ARB's Heavy-Duty Vehicle Inspection Program and Periodic Smoke Inspection Program were adopted into law in 1988 (Senate Bill 1997) and 1990 (Senate Bill 2330), respectively to control excessive smoke emissions and tampering from heavy-duty diesel trucks and buses. The regulations, CCR Title 13, Sections 2180-2189 for HDVIP, and CCR Title 13, Sections 2190-2194 for PSIP, governing these programs were last amended in 2007.

Per the California Air Resource Board, smoke opacity testing has been mandated in response to public concerns about the health impacts of heavy- duty vehicle smoke emissions.  As a result, California law requires the owners of California-based truck and bus fleets to perform annual inspections of their vehicles.

Through the implementation of the Periodic Smoke Inspection Program, the California Air Resource board is working to keep our environment pollution-free.
CARB Compliance Services is educated on the laws mandating smoke opacity testing and can help you to understand what the laws mean to operations of your business.

What are the requirements for smoke opacity testing?

Laws for smoke opacity testing in California have been in place for over 10 years, however, individuals with equipment subject to testing are typically not aware that these laws exist and to what extent they need to be in compliance.  

Since October 1, 1999, owners of California-based fleets have had to comply with all of the following:

* All heavy-duty diesel-powered vehicles that are 6,000 lbs. GVWR or greater in fleets of two or more (except those equipped with engines that are four years old or less and those vehicles used exclusively for personal use, such as motor homes), must be tested annually with a smoke opacity meter according to the SAE J1667 specifications and test procedures;

* All heavy-duty diesel-powered vehicles must meet the applicable opacity standards of 55% for pre-1991 engines and 40% for 1991 and newer engines;
* All heavy-duty diesel-powered vehicles determined to be in non-compliance must be promptly repaired and brought into compliance; and,
* For each vehicle, records of the initial opacity test, repair information, post-repair opacity results, and meter calibration must be maintained for at least two years.

Beginning October 21, 2010, all heavy duty diesel powered vehicles registered in California with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 6,000 pounds and above with engines that are over 4 years old are subject to annual PSIP inspections and record keeping requirements (13 CCR 2190 et seq.) UNLESS they meet one to the following exclusions:

  • Owners of a 1998 or newer diesel powered vehicle garaged in an air quality non-attainment area of the state with a GVWR of 14,000 pounds or less, you are NOT subject to the requirements of the PSIP any longer.
  • Owners of a 1998 or newer diesel powered vehicle garaged in an air quality attainment area of the state with a GVWR of 14,000 pounds or less, you are NOT subject to biennial smog check inspections but you ARE required to have a passing PSIP inspection on a BIENNIAL BASIS.
Owners ofdiesel powered vehicles with 1997 model years or earlierand a GVWR between 6,000 and 14,000 pounds are still subject to the ANNUAL PSIP inspection and record keeping requirements.

These changes were approved at the October 2010 public hearing of the ARB and are pending approval by the Office of Administrative Law and promulgation by the Secretary of State to become final. This is anticipated to occur in the 4th quarter of 2011.

To obtain additional information regarding this bill as it pertains to PSIP, view the Advisory 351 (revised December 2010) as published by the Air Resource Board.

All smoke opacity testing performed must conform to the Society of Automotive Engineers’ (SAE) J1667 snap-acceleration test procedure. All vehicles that do not pass the test must be repaired and be subsequently retested. All testing must be performed using an SAE J1667 smokemeter.

Fleet owners are required to maintain inspection and repair/ retest records for each vehicle.

CARB Compliance Services is knowledgeable about smoke opacity testing and documentation requirements and prepares you with the documentation you need to have on hand in the case of an Air Resource Board audit. 

What are the documentation requirements set forth by California law for tested vehicles?

To keep fleets in compliance and avoid legal action and costly penalties, adherence to Section 2194, Title 13, of the California Code of Regulations is necessary.  The code states the following:

  • The owner of a vehicle subject to the requirements of this chapter shall maintain records of the following information when performing the smoke opacity testing:
    • The brand name and model of the opacity meter.
    • The date of the last calibration of the opacity meter must be within manufacturer specifications (it is recommended that meters be calibrated at a minimum of once every 6 months).
    • The name of the smoke meter operator who conducted the test.
    • The name and address of the contracted smoke test facility or vehicle repair facility that conducted the test (if applicable).
    • The applicable smoke opacity standard for the tested vehicle
    •  Vehicle identification number, vehicle engine year, engine make/model, and test date. Fleetdesignated vehicle identification numbers are also acceptable.
    • The initial smoke test opacity levels (for three successive test readings.)
    • An indication of whether the vehicle passed or failed the initial smoke test.
    • The post-repair test date.
    • The post-repair smoke test opacity levels (for three successive test readings.)
    • An indication of whether the vehicle passed or failed the post-repair smoke test.
    • For vehicles that have failed the smoke test and have been repaired, the vehicle repairinformation specified in Section 2186(a), Title 13, California Code of Regulations.
CARB Compliance will properly document and maintain this required information for the duration of the time required by law—currently two years.
CARB Compliance will also provide your company with hard copies and electronic files containing the relevant documentation for easy access in the case of an ARB audit. 

What are the legal implications of non-compliance with the California Air Resource Board laws?

To ensure compliance with smoke opacity testing laws, the Air Resources Board will randomly audit fleets’ maintenance and inspection records, and test a representative sample of vehicles.All vehicles that do not pass the test must be repaired and retested. A fleet owner that neglects to perform the annual smoke opacity inspection on applicable vehicles is subject to a penalty of $500.00 per vehicle, per year. 

A list of settlements related to non-compliance of smoke opacity testing laws for the last 10+ years can be found at http://www.arb.ca.gov/enf/casesett/casesett.htm.  

Cost-Benefit Scenario:
If your company maintains and operates a fleet of 10 vehicles subject to California ARB smoke opacity testing laws, and you have never tested the vehicles during the past 2 years (time frame that testing and compliance documentation must be maintained), at anytime an audit could result in a fine of $10,000.  On top of this fee, you will then need to have the entire fleet tested for compliance, which will range between $500 and $750.  

On the contrary, smoke opacity testing and proper documentation of compliance for those 2 years would have cost $1,000-$1,500, depending on what smoke opacity testing company you use.

At a cost of 10% of the potential fine, smoke opacity testing on an annual basis is a low-cost step companies must take to avoid large and unnecessary expenditures for non-compliance. 

CARB Compliance can assist with this low-cost preventative maintenance with our competitive prices and professional and thorough services and help you to keep your business name off the list of ARB settlements.

Who is exempt from smoke opacity testing?

Fleet owners are not required to inspect vehicles that are powered by engines in their first four years. Heavy-duty diesel-powered vehicles that are not part of a fleet or are exclusively for personal use are exempt.

CARB Compliance can help you determine whether your vehicles are exempt from testing.  Feel free to contact us at mgrayson@carb-compliance.com or give us a call at (661) 808-6561 regarding any questions you have related to compliance and we’ll be happy to assist you.