How do you identify a CARB-Compliant Converter?

By Charlie Pantano, Eastern Catalytic 

Now that New York and Maine have enacted the same aftermarket catalytic converter legislation as the state of California, other states are expected to follow. As a result, knowing which catalytic converter to install in the customer’s vehicle and making sure the one you picked is legal and fits properly can be a tricky affair. You can’t always tell just by looking at the VIN or year, make and model of the vehicle. The best way to do the job right and stay within the letter of the law is to know what to look for.

CARB converter labeling

According to CARB requirements, every new CARB-compliant replacement converter must display a certification stamp or label on the converter shell that includes the CARB Executive Order approval number, the part number, date of manufacturer, and proper installation direction. This is the only way you can be sure that you are installing the CARB-compliant converter on a vehicle that requires it.

CARB vs. Federal – how do you know?

Before servicing any vehicle’s catalytic converter, you must determine whether the vehicle was manufactured to CARB or Federal specifications. The best way to do that is to check the vehicle’s emissions system label. This label can usually be found in one of three places: on the front radiator support, the strut tower plate, or under the engine hood. If the vehicle is California Emissions Certified, the label will reference “California,” “CARB,” or “ARB.”

Once the emissions certification has been found, the “Engine Family Number” must be determined. This is sometimes called the “Engine Family Code,” “Test Group,” or “Group Number.” The number can be found on the Emissions Control Information Label. It is vital to know the Family Number when picking a replacement converter. If the label is missing, be sure to contact the OE dealer for the engine Family Number.

Vehicle Emissions label locations

Vehicle Emissions label locations

Here are the typical labels you’ll find:

Typical label identifying a CARB System

Typical label identifying a CARB System

Typical label identifying a Federal System

Typical label identifying a Federal System

Typical label showing a Low Emissions Vehicle System

Typical label showing a Low Emissions Vehicle System

For more information about New York Emissions Standards for Motor Vehicles is available from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Air Resources / Bureau of Mobile Sources 625 Broadway Albany, NY 12233-3255, Tel: (518) 402-8292

Informative videos and technical tips on emissions identification and other catalytic converter service topics can be found in the Education section of the Eastern Catalytic website at www.easterncatalytic.com.

Charles Pantano is the Certification Program Manager at Eastern Catalytic, a leading innovator and world-class manufacturer of catalytic converters. Eastern offers a full range of catalytic converters for universal, direct-fit, manifold, diesel, and heavy-duty applications.