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Discussion Starter #1
Does anyone know the engine change laws or know where to direct me to read up on them? I have a 83 El Camino that I want to put a big block into and keep it smog legal. I did a TPI into a 87 Dakota in 1998 but that was a car engine into a truck. I'm not sure how it works with a truck or SUV engine into a car. Is the El Camino considered a commercial vehicle? Can a Suburban engine be used in the El Camino? Please forgive me if this was posted already.... Steve
 

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Ok in california you can change an engine as long as its a newer engine, you have to install it with all the emission equipment . You have to have ALL the emission components working and in place. There are trucks with 454 engines so that would be an easy swap...
 

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So, I can use a truck or SUV engine as long as it is new? That's awesome! I did a engine change in a 1987 Dodge Dakota using a 90 TPI engine from a Camaro. I thought that the state didn't allow truck engine into a car. That is good news for me and my engine transmission hunt.
 

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Does anyone know the engine change laws or know where to direct me to read up on them? I have a 83 El Camino that I want to put a big block into and keep it smog legal. I did a TPI into a 87 Dakota in 1998 but that was a car engine into a truck. I'm not sure how it works with a truck or SUV engine into a car. Is the El Camino considered a commercial vehicle? Can a Suburban engine be used in the El Camino? Please forgive me if this was posted already.... Steve
Good luck if the engine looks different from what should be in there you have to see a referee to get the o.k. on the swap then deal with passing it.
Arn't you old enough for no smog required? I think 85 is the cutoff or is yours the last year?



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Smog Information


Currently, smog inspections are required for all vehicles except diesel powered vehicles manufactured prior to 1998 or with a Gross Vehicle Weight (GVWR) of more than 14,000 lbs, electric, natural gas powered vehicles over 14,000 lbs, hybrids, motorcycles, trailers, or gasoline powered vehicles 1975 and older.
Vehicles registered in areas subject to the biennial smog certification program are required to submit evidence of a smog certification every other renewal period. Owners of vehicles six or less model years old will pay an annual smog abatement fee for the first six registration years instead of being required to provide a biennial smog certification. The registration renewal notice mailed to you by the department will indicate if a smog certification is required. If a smog certification is required and you have not had a smog inspection, you may still pay your registration fees to avoid any late fees. However, you will not receive your new registration or year sticker until the smog information has been received by DMV.
NOTE: Upon initial registration, nonresident, diesel powered vehicles manufactured in 1998 or after with a (GVWR) rating of no more than 14,000 lbs, and specially constructed vehicles 1976 and newer require smog certification. The six or less model years old rule does not apply to these vehicles.
When you transfer a vehicle that is four or less model years old a smog certification is not required. (Determine the oldest-qualifying year model by subtracting three from the current year.) The four or less model years old rule does not apply to diesel powered vehicles. A smog transfer fee will be collected from the new owner . When a vehicle is more than four model years old, a seller must provide evidence of a current smog certification except when one of the following occurs:

  • The transfer occurs between a spouse, domestic partner, sibling, child, parent, grandparent, or grandchild.
  • A biennial smog certification was submitted to DMV within 90 days prior to the vehicle transfer date (a vehicle inspection report may be required for proof of certification).
Smog certifications are good for 90 days from the date of issuance.
 

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I think you are going to have a real problem doing it in California. I think you'll find that a truck engine swap is not is going to be allowed because of the weight difference. You also need to install the original exhaust system from the heads to the back of the catalytic converter, since the engine was certified with its original exhaust system. The engine must also be from the same weight class vehicle, which is probably going to eliminate any big blocks that were installed in pickups. You can do a small block without a lot of problems, so you may consider a large displacement small block instead. They measure the emissions in parts per million, so the actual size of the engine is not apparent in testing. You'll find that the referee stations are very strict on the rules, down to looking at individual part numbers. Yes, I have a big block in one of my Caminos, but the swap was done prior to the March 1984 cutoff date and the Camino is CARB certified with a big block. If anything ever happens to the truck, I am convinced I cannot replace it. Here is the text of the CARB rules:

Engine Changes Engine changes are legal as long as the following requirements are met to ensure that the change does not increase pollution from the vehicle:
  • The engine must be the same year or newer than the vehicle.
  • The engine must be from the same type of vehicle (passenger car, light-duty truck, heavy-duty truck, etc.) based on gross vehicle weight.
  • If the vehicle is a California certified vehicle then the engine must also be a California certified engine.
  • All emissions control equipment must remain on the installed engine.
  • Vehicles converted to 100% electric drive, with all power supplied by on-board batteries are considered in compliance with the engine change requirements. All fuel system components must be removed prior to inspection. For additional information contact the ARB helpline at (800) 242-4450
After an engine change, vehicles must first be inspected by a state referee station. The vehicle will be inspected to ensure that all the equipment required is in place, and vehicle will be emissions tested subject to the specifications of the installed engine.
 

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no big blocks in elcos after 76 in ca. the elco is titled as a truck in ca. but they are a passenger car by smog standards. you can try it but you will screw yourself once the ref sees it. you cant put a heavy duty truck engine in a pass. car. and there are no pass car big blocks after 76. as a former ca. resident who did smog legal swaps for a shop in the high desert i promise you it wont fly and it will be deemed a tampered vehicle then the headaches begin.
 

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no big blocks in elcos after 76 in ca. the elco is titled as a truck in ca. but they are a passenger car by smog standards. .
...And thats where the confusion begins,is it a truck or car..???..even the state don't know what it is.:dontknow:
j/k
:beer:
 

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thats why i got out of that crap hole. so much bs just to live there and enjoy your toys:dontknow:
 

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thats why i got out of that crap hole. so much bs just to live there and enjoy your toys:dontknow:
I'm 62 years old and I've lived in California all but the first 5 years of my live. I've owned 56 vehicles in my lifetime. California's vehicular laws are a PITA for sure but they don't stop you from enjoying your toys.....and you can enjoy them all year long.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I think you are going to have a real problem doing it in California. I think you'll find that a truck engine swap is not is going to be allowed because of the weight difference. You also need to install the original exhaust system from the heads to the back of the catalytic converter, since the engine was certified with its original exhaust system. The engine must also be from the same weight class vehicle, which is probably going to eliminate any big blocks that were installed in pickups. You can do a small block without a lot of problems, so you may consider a large displacement small block instead. They measure the emissions in parts per million, so the actual size of the engine is not apparent in testing. You'll find that the referee stations are very strict on the rules, down to looking at individual part numbers. Yes, I have a big block in one of my Caminos, but the swap was done prior to the March 1984 cutoff date and the Camino is CARB certified with a big block. If anything ever happens to the truck, I am convinced I cannot replace it. Here is the text of the CARB rules:

Engine Changes Engine changes are legal as long as the following requirements are met to ensure that the change does not increase pollution from the vehicle:
  • The engine must be the same year or newer than the vehicle.
  • The engine must be from the same type of vehicle (passenger car, light-duty truck, heavy-duty truck, etc.) based on gross vehicle weight.
  • If the vehicle is a California certified vehicle then the engine must also be a California certified engine.
  • All emissions control equipment must remain on the installed engine.
  • Vehicles converted to 100% electric drive, with all power supplied by on-board batteries are considered in compliance with the engine change requirements. All fuel system components must be removed prior to inspection. For additional information contact the ARB helpline at (800) 242-4450
After an engine change, vehicles must first be inspected by a state referee station. The vehicle will be inspected to ensure that all the equipment required is in place, and vehicle will be emissions tested subject to the specifications of the installed engine.
So a 5.7l from a passenger car seems to be the option. How does the state look at a Suburban? Its not a truck.
 

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you can use the suburban engine just not the wireing and ecm. the trucks idle in open loop when cars idle in closed loop. you can change the injector wireing at the ecm plug to match the car ecm and it will fly.when you put the car ecm on a truck harness one injector wont fire,so you only need to relocate one wire,not a big deal.you dont mention its a truck engine.
 

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ca. smog laws are such a pain to deal with .some things just make no sense. i have done conversions that turned out cleaner than required with more equiptment than required only to be failed at the ref because it wasnt as they wanted to see it. take off the extra equiptment and retest at a dirtier level and pass because it was how they wanted it. so clearly, clean air is not thier first objective.there is a book full of non approved parts and modifications that have absolutely no impact on emisions. they just use the smog laws to limit what you can do with your cars
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Very good info! I'm very comfortable with the wiring. They basically want to see all stock configuration with the updated engine change. I do have my heart set on a big block but not if its going to cause what I'm doing to be a waist of money and time. Maybe I will try to find a referee station & ask some questions....Maybe they will answer, maybe they wont. One rule I always use is "Make it look like the factory did it". I even apply that rule to my motorcycles too. I am very meticulous with my projects. Thanks for any advice given so far.
 

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They can tell a big block from a small block and a Suburban is classed as a truck. There was a time when the only way to get a substantial power increase was to go to a big block - However, times and cylinder head technology have changed that. You can make a lot of power out of a 383 and you don't add over 200 pounds to an already nose heavy vehicle. I have a 5th gen with a 540. It is great in a straight line and will make you grin. But I also have a 1978 with a 383 and a manual trans. They park side by side and I can hop into either one, yet the 383 gets driven twice as much as the big block. Why? Because the manual trans is a hoot and the 383 is more than the tires can take.

The September issue of Car Craft has a great article on small block heads. The Dart SHP heads have the required exhaust crossover to let you make the EGR functional so you can pass smog. They also made 419 hp on a 350, which is probably more the the Suburban engine turns out. A 383 drops right in and everything fits. No hunting down brackets and manifolds. Just paint the heads the same color as the engine. If you want to take the car to the strip, buy a decent Holley (like the street avenger) and an MSD or non computer operated distributor. Swap 'em on when you want to play and run the original computer Q-jet and distributor on the street and for smog. How long does it really take to swap a carb and distributor?
 

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build a big small block, i ran a 500+ hp 406 in my 86 in ca. for over 10 years and only failed emissions testing once due to a sunken float. good heads and a smart cam and about 10.5 to 11.5 compression and you will have plenty of power and wont run afoul of the smog police .provideing the rest of your emission equiptment is up to snuff
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I think a 5.7l is the best choice to avoid problems at the referee station. Do they rotate the referee's to avoid a possible conflict of interest?


Sent from my iPhone using Autoguide
 

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i dont think so i always saw the same one. last year got a 10.5 to 1 383 with tbi throught the ref with no issues in a 85 elco for my buddy.you can get a big small block through it just has to run clean and have all of the emission stuff on and working
 

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the block is 1400$ .you can build a roller cammed 415 with dart heads and block for about 5000$
 
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