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Old 11-01-2011, 10:30 PM   #1
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Default Bringing a turbo car with when moving to California?

Hey everyone,

I'm new to the forum but not entirely new to Miatas; I had a '99 back in 2008 that I did springs, shocks, wheels and tires on. I have a hopefully quick question that maybe people here can help with.

Here's the situation:
1)I have a job offer in California (I've lived there for several years before; I know what I'm getting into)
2)If I move to CA, I will need a car regardless.
3)I have the option to buy *back* my '99 Miata here before I accept the job
4)I have the option to put a turbo kit on that Miata in the few weeks before I go.

Once it's a CA registered car, I know that's a no-no (except the old Greddy kit with CARB # which looks to be outdated and only for NAs anyway) but bringing a 49 state legal car into CA that you own when you move looks to be totally valid with the DMV. But that may be just for smog; I'm not sure if it includes the visual inspection.

Does anyone have any experience with this or know how a nonresident car exemption works in California?

Thanks in advance for any help.

Last edited by switchblade327; 11-02-2011 at 02:25 AM. Reason: Typo
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Old 11-01-2011, 11:08 PM   #2
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Can you just maintain legal residence in whatever state you're in now? Legal residence is a fluid thing in most states. Heck, my dad was a resident of Florida the entire time he was in the Army because of the military tax laws, but we never actually lived there.
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Old 11-01-2011, 11:21 PM   #3
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I don't live there, but I think a used 49 state car can be brought in no problem. Depending on where you move to in CA you just need to smog it once. More populated parts of the state require biannual smog testing. So if you move to a place where it's once and done, you could install the turbo after you get it smogged. When you sell the car though, you are responsible for getting a smog certificate if you sell it to a CA resident. This is how I understand it from California friends.

I bet the CA DMV website has this info somewhere. Have you looked there?
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Old 11-01-2011, 11:29 PM   #4
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Used 49-state car can be brought in as long as it passes visual and emissions standards, and has more than 7500 miles on it, IIRC. That doesn't mean you can turbo the car and then bring it in, though - it still has to pass visual.

If you are moving to CA for "work" or "play" or "living anywhere you would actually want to live in California", you're going to be living in a biannual smog area.
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Old 11-01-2011, 11:40 PM   #5
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Just bring the car in, pass smog, then install turbo. If you're still here two years later, swap back to stock for a week and pass smog again!
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Old 11-02-2011, 01:19 AM   #6
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What if you never had to get California plates? I assume they don't care what comes out the back if you don't technically live there?
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Old 11-02-2011, 01:35 AM   #7
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Thanks for the replies, everyone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vehicular View Post
Can you just maintain legal residence in whatever state you're in now? Legal residence is a fluid thing in most states. Heck, my dad was a resident of Florida the entire time he was in the Army because of the military tax laws, but we never actually lived there.
I'm guessing the military is more lax about this. I could but getting pulled over once could blow that. California is pretty strict about getting a state driver's license and plates within a few weeks of moving there. Last time I waited 2 years and had a couple hundred in penalty fees when I finally sorted it out. I would be living/renting and working in LA County so that'd be a hard sell to a cop or a judge that I don't actually live there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RedCarmel
I bet the CA DMV website has this info somewhere. Have you looked there?
I did, yeah. It helps but isn't entirely clear about modified cars. 49 state cars can pass with only 49 state standards but it's not specific (or I couldn't find that part) regarding the visual inspection for out-of-state cars. There are different standards when moving to CA and bringing your car then there is for CA residents buying an out-of-state car which makes sense, but in my case adds to the confusion.

It sounds like a bi-annual turbo install/uninstall is my best bet, which I guess is better since there's no rush. Thanks again everyone.
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Old 11-02-2011, 01:59 AM   #8
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A couple of my recruiters have Cali license plates even though they live in Ohio, I assume they only have to have there cars up to the specs of there "home" state.
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Old 11-02-2011, 11:54 AM   #9
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move to a county that is exempt from smog requirements:

http://dmv.ca.gov/vr/smogfaq.htm
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Old 11-02-2011, 03:07 PM   #10
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If you are in the Military, you are a fool to change residency to whatever state you get stationed in unless it was better than the last state.

All aviators in the Navy at some point very early in their career go through Pensacola. Almost ALL of us switch to Florida residency because there is no state income tax. Texas is another big residency state. You also get to register and tag your cars via the MAIL.

I'm a Florida resident with Florida DL that has a Virginia address on it. I get plates/tags for all my vehicles registered in Florida by sending them standard DMV forms and a check. You don't ever have to smog them or get them inspected ever as long as you don't actually live in Florida.

The just changed federal law that makes it OK for military spouses ALSO not have to change residency. My wife can now get a FL drivers licence and never have to change it... previously, WIFES/HUSBANDS had to get local DL's wherever they moved. IT WAS BULLSHIT! But now we don't have to.

But if you're not in the Military... yah, states are pretty up in your business when you move there about declaring residency... mostly for tax purposes I guess.
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Old 11-02-2011, 06:20 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by y8s View Post
register your car in a county that is exempt from smog requirements:

http://dmv.ca.gov/vr/smogfaq.htm
FTFY

My Dad has a Ford Ranger with an engine swap and owns property in NorCal in a non-smog county. His registration and renewal are delivered up there so that kinda sucks, but at least he doesn't have to deal with smog

If you change your legal address and move to CA, you have to pass visual and sniffer, does not matter if the parts were legal in any other state at any other time. You can maintain residence in another state/county and still work in CA.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wittyworks View Post
Just bring the car in, pass smog, then install turbo. If you're still here two years later, swap back to stock for a week and pass smog again!
This is the plan now that I'm screwed for an EO# on the Rotrex. I have my 00 Mazda factory pre-cat, midpipe, ecu and induction stuff in a big bin in the garage. Every 2 years I'll do the dance and hope for the best.
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Old 11-02-2011, 07:11 PM   #12
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IK its a bit more of a pain cause you have to pass visual, but in CT every 2 yrs I go more or less back to stock engine to pass OBD2. Its really not that bad. I leave the turbo on but keep the wastegate open, then install stock injectors, ecu, MAF, exhaust (cat), and now i guess i gotta do a stock coil too.
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Old 11-03-2011, 09:39 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedCarmel View Post
Depending on where you move to in CA you just need to smog it once. More populated parts of the state require biannual smog testing.
Most of the places where you'd want to live (and where jobs are) require testing every two years. Assuming you're in such an area, it does not matter whether the car was originally built as a CA car or a Fed car- you can still only install CARB-legal parts on it.

That said, there are some caveats. The most obvious is that the inspection is only ever other year, and so long as you don't drive like an idiot and attract the attention of the CHP, you're unlikely to get busted. It's been my experience that the local cops have better things to do than write referee tickets for aftermarket parts.

The other caveat is that the Bell turbo systems are legal for '99 cars. The parts in the current kit don't precisely match the wording on the EO, but the word on the street is that folks aren't finding this to be a problem.


(Also, despite what it says under my name at the moment, I am a CA resident- San Diego county- and had a turbo '92 in CA for five years. I'm just on assignment right now.)
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Old 11-08-2011, 07:40 PM   #14
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Sorry for the late reply, I was out-of-town for a few days.

Quote:
Originally Posted by y8s View Post
move to a county that is exempt from smog requirements:
Not really practical. I would be working pretty much right in the middle of LA county, which is BIG and the closest adjacent counties (Ventura and Orange) also require smog.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EO2K View Post
You can maintain residence in another state/county and still work in CA.
This seems like a hard sell if you're working and renting in the state of CA, especially since CA has a state income tax. I'd love to list my Dad's address, not pay state income tax or get smogged but that doesn't seem likely to be legal (I'm not military; I understand the rules and circumstances are different then).

I didn't realize Bell had a CARB approved kit that would fit a '99 though. That could be the best solution.
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Old 11-09-2011, 10:28 PM   #15
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Best just to install it and uninstall when needed for inspection.

Keep in mind that an FMIC might tip law officers off, but generally they won't say anything unless you've already been pulled over for something else.
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Old 11-10-2011, 01:56 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crono36 View Post
Best just to install it and uninstall when needed for inspection.

Keep in mind that an FMIC might tip law officers off, but generally they won't say anything unless you've already been pulled over for something else.
FMIC=Intercooler? Or something else?

With the Bell kit, it seems like it might be best to use the CARB approved setup, though it looks to only be good for 5-6 psi where I'd prefer 8. Depending on cost, it might be easier to swap engine management systems than the entire turbo setup. I'm going to talk to Bell about what they recommend.
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Old 11-10-2011, 04:35 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by switchblade327 View Post
FMIC=Intercooler? Or something else?

With the Bell kit, it seems like it might be best to use the CARB approved setup, though it looks to only be good for 5-6 psi where I'd prefer 8. Depending on cost, it might be easier to swap engine management systems than the entire turbo setup. I'm going to talk to Bell about what they recommend.
FMIC = Front Mount InterCooler. FMIC is not in and of itself illegal, CARB lists it as a "no effect" mod or something like that. I can't find documentation on that so don't quote me. Lightly spraypaint it matte black and roll with it.

The "hot ticket" out here in CA-land is to start with the CARB approved Bell kit w/correctly applied sticker and carry the paperwork with you. Then you can make small mods here and there that are easily reversible if its called into question. The vast majority of local cops won't be able to tell the difference, but CHP has been getting "advanced" training. For example: they know that there are virtually no kits with non-recirculating BOV's that are CARB approved. If they see a VTA BOV, you get a free ticket to the SMOG Ref. Crankcase breathers that are VTA is another violation. For Hondas, they know that blocks with 5 digit ID numbers are JDM and USDM are all 4 (or whatever the F it is, I don't follow the Honda stuff any more) so they know its not US spec and therefore not CARB. It's little things, but it adds up.

Keep it tasteful and reversible and you should be fine. Also helps to be over 25 and not drive like a jackass
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Old 11-10-2011, 05:41 PM   #18
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Awesome, thanks for the info. I'm in my 30s, not a jackass (at least, I like to think :P) and not some fast nor furious street racer. I just want my otherwise fun to drive car to have a bit bigger cojones.
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Old 11-10-2011, 06:14 PM   #19
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Sounds good, just make sure you start with the right CARB approved kit for your year and go from there. I have a friend making 200hp @ 10psi (IIRC, its been a while) in a 1.8 95 on a CARB legal BEGi S2 w/2554 and a few mods here and there, so it is do-able. Hopefully more CA turbo guys can chime in here.

Don't expect to get away with a 90-97 CARB sticker/Kit on a 00+. That Bell/BEGi EO# is I believe only good up to 99, there are no CARB approved kits for 00-05 NB's =( As long as you have a 99 FedSpec or older car, its gravy. The CA spec 99/00 cars used a pre-cat that is part of the downpipe on the factory cars. I don't know if Bell or FM built the downpipes that included the space for the CA pre-cat, I've only ever seen one pic of such a beast and it was here on the MT "For Sale" section. Elimination of this cat from a 99/00 CA spec car is auto-failboat as far as emissions testing is concerned. This of course only applies if you have a 99/00 CA spec car, so YMMV.

Good luck!
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