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Old 06-11-2018, 02:28 PM   #1
Vincent Brick
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Failed smog for first time, not sure what to do.

I am new to CA still so I am not used to this whole emissions testing thing, I have no clue what any of this stuff means. The test said I failed HC by three points at 15mph, but I passed everything else (except gas cap but nbd). The smog tech told me I probably need a "tune up" but the car has had a recent valve adjustment, new spark plugs and air filter cleaning (K&N). My buddy is a tech at a BMW indie shop that does a lot of E30s, and he thinks all I need is an O2 sensor. Both told me the second most likely thing was the cat, which is original to the car and has over 250k miles on it.


What do you experienced folks think? I am absolutely clueless when it comes to anything emissions, and I am in such bad shape financially that even the cost of just the smog testing and CA's high registration fees has me in a bad spot right now. That said, I'll come up with the money to do it right, I just can't afford to spend money on maybes.


Thanks for any advice.
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Old 06-11-2018, 02:34 PM   #2
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In your situation, I'd just have someone pass the car.
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Old 06-11-2018, 02:38 PM   #3
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Do you have bigger injectors or a chip? Maybe you need to heat up your cat converter a little more.
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Old 06-11-2018, 02:41 PM   #4
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Like a falsified smog? I like the idea of supporting those guys, they provide a valuable service, but man that stuff is pricey, and I don't have any connections. If that's what the consensus ends up being though, I guess that is what I will do. That turns my prorated yearly car registration into $200+ though, which is just insane to me, I don't have that kind of money.
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Old 06-11-2018, 02:42 PM   #5
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Do have bigger injectors or a chip? Maybe you need to heat up your cat converter a little more.



Motor is bone stock except for light 323i flywheel and Hartge catback.


I romped on the car really good before taking it in, then it sat there idling for a good half hour before it turned the rollers.
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Old 06-11-2018, 02:43 PM   #6
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Well, if you go that route, you'll have the car registered, then you have two years to figure out why the emissions are not within spec.

It's going to suck if you start throwing parts at it, then it fails again.
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Old 06-11-2018, 03:00 PM   #7
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PM me, I know someone in CA that’ll “smog” it for you. I believe it’s around $180
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Old 06-11-2018, 03:04 PM   #8
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Part of why I am not so afraid to replace the cat, is that my exhaust tip is crooked in the rear valence and REALLY bothered me for years, I could have that taken care of at the same time. I already spoke to a fabricator that says it needs cut and rewelded to straighten (got bent from scraping I think), which will likely be a couple hundred itself, so it seems like turning that into a single labor charge would be beneficial.

That and it seems almost obvious that the 30-year old, 250k mile cat is done.

Not quite sure yet what I should do.
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Old 06-11-2018, 03:06 PM   #9
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Sounds like you're pretty close. Post a pic of the numbers from the report
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Old 06-11-2018, 03:08 PM   #10
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PM me, I know someone in CA that’ll “smog” it for you. I believe it’s around $180



$180 actually seems pretty reasonable, considering the place I went to today tried to charge me $80 (knocked it down to $60 when I bitched... I was pretty sure I only paid $30-40 in the past).


I had someone else offer a connection, without asking my location. Is this something that can be done remotely, like I don't have to take the car to them? If anyone would prefer take this kind of illegit convo to PM that is understandable. The few car guys I know around here are racers, not so into street cars that need this kind of stuff.
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Old 06-11-2018, 03:13 PM   #11
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Sounds like you're pretty close. Post a pic of the numbers from the report



Very close, failed by 3 points on a single item.


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Old 06-11-2018, 04:12 PM   #12
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There is an over the counter automotive product goes in the gas tank ,name escapes me at the moment ,and bead last your spark plugs again .You are so close to passing try again .I just paid 134 for registration and 90. For smog check ,California costs are outrageous and getting worse ...don't even start on bridge tolls.
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Old 06-11-2018, 04:12 PM   #13
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So I haven't seen your car and don't know the full situation, but in my experience, replacing the catalytic converter does not fix the problem, it only puts a bandaid on it. A fresh cat will mask a poorly running car, but I've read about aftermarket cats failing after 2 years. I think CA sued manufacturers because the cats should have lasted longer, but my memory is foggy on it.

If I were in your shoes, I would hot smog it for $180 and then spend time trying to get it to run right over the next 2 years.

As a side note, if anyone has a smog tech in the bay that helps cars to pass, that would be really awesome so I can get my new car registered. (Once I get the lien removed and the dead guy's family to legally sell it to me. yikes)
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Old 06-11-2018, 04:55 PM   #14
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I also agree with McGyver that a new cat will certainly have you pass considering the #'s, but who knows what it'll mask in the future... but then again it is 250k miles old.
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Old 06-11-2018, 05:12 PM   #15
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I also agree with McGyver that a new cat will certainly have you pass considering the #'s, but who knows what it'll mask in the future... but then again it is 250k miles old.
I have around 300k on my original 325i cat and pass no problem. I have a friend that has around 280k on his original e28 m5 cat and passes no problem (now he only puts it on the car when he smogs). The original german cats can last a super long time. That being said, running super rich for a long time can definitely destroy a cat quicker. So its not really an apples-to-apples comparison, it really depends on how well the car was maintained over its life.
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