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California Restrictions on Aftermarket Catalytic Converters

Effective January 1st, 2009, California enacted a new law that all California vehicles must meet California’s emission standards. If your vehicle was purchased in California anytime on or after said date, your car will not function properly without a California regulated catalytic converter, even if you reside outside of California.


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Companies cannot sell non-California legal catalytic converters to anyone living in the state, and it is illegal for installers to put in new aftermarket catalytic converters unless certain California-restrictions have been met.

Conditions to be met:



The vehicle is specifically included in the vehicle application list for which the new aftermarket catalytic converter has been exempted;



The vehicle is more than 7 years old or has more than 70,000 miles on its odometer;



The vehicle is beyond coverage of the OEM catalyst warranty period. Installers may reference the vehicle owner’s manual/warranty booklet or contact the vehicle manufacturer or its representative to verify the applicable OEM catalyst warranty;



The vehicle has a legitimate need for replacement of the existing converter that has been established and documented by the installer on the repair invoice. If the OEM converter is present, the installer must make a determination that it is not working properly before acting to replace it;



The exempted new aftermarket catalytic converter is installed in the same location as the OEM converter. The front face of the installed catalytic converter shall be no more than 3 inches further upstream or downstream in the exhaust from where the front face of the OEM catalytic converter was located. The installation may not alter the location, position, or orientation of oxygen sensors upstream and downstream of the catalytic converter(s);



The exempted new aftermarket catalytic converter is installed on a one-for one catalytic converter (not substrate) basis;



The exempted new aftermarket catalytic converter is installed with all other required catalytic converters (no consolidation of catalytic converters, nor addition of extra catalytic converters is allowed); and



A warranty card has been filled out by the installer, signed by the customer, attached to the repair invoice, and a copy returned to the manufacturer.



Installers shall keep documentation regarding the installation of the new aftermarket catalytic converters including all of the above information. This documentation shall be made available to ARB or its representative as provided for in title 13, section 2222(b)(8). All such records shall be maintained for four years from the date of sale or installation of the catalytic converter.




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