Ford GT's Getting Flagged by CARB!


nota4re

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Le Mans 2010 Supporter
Feb 15, 2006
3,792
Something is going on. We've been contacted for the second time in less than a week by an owner that went in for a "normal" (every other year) California smog check. Upon arrival to the smog station, the VIN is scanned and there is a message that the car cannot be smogged and MUST be referred to a referee station.

The text from the Smog Referee:

SmogRef.jpg

We've NEVER seen this before.... and I fear it is something that may become widespread.

My early speculation is that CARB has come in possession of a list of Ford GT VINs from, a specific dealer/tuner...???

What the referee has said is that it was data collected form the prior (2-years before!) test that has shown to be the "incorrect" programming.

I think it would behoove us to find the common denominator. Who else has received a similar notification?
 
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twobjshelbys

GT Owner
Jul 26, 2010
5,344
Las Vegas, NV
There is no rocket science in detecting a re-programmed ECU (ie, a "tune"). I know, for example, that Ford can tell if a non-Ford tune is in your car - I know this because Ford wanted to return my Shelby GT to the standard Mustang tune until I explained that the Shelby GT had a legit ford tune and they hadn't looked it up correctly. If Ford can tell what is (and isn't) the correct image, then I'm not surprised if a emissions testing system can figure it out. Most likely if the tune doesn't have a CARB registered signature they can flag it...

I can guarantee you that other places will soon start to raise this flag. MA has been sing California emissions standards and follow a few years behind. Nevada has closely followed in the past with a few exceptions that CA allowed and later closed (like the number and type of "not ready" OBDII systems) and I saw something that those will be tightened too. I saw about 6 months ago that some other states were going to follow suit.
 
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twobjshelbys

GT Owner
Jul 26, 2010
5,344
Las Vegas, NV
Regarding "return to factory" beware. If you got a tune chances and you got a SCT or other tuner device, that the factory tune is resident on the device. (These devices save the current configuration before loading a new one.) In the case of my Ford GT I had emissions problems in Nevada because the tune disabled the O2 sensors and EGR "systems" and I couldn't get past the OBDII troll. I returned the tune to the factory tune BUT THE CAR WOULD NOT RUN until also swapped back the factory MAF and I couldn't get the minimum OBDII conditions until I returned the factory throttle body, and I never did get a catalyst complete.

My point is that it take more than just putting the factory tune back in (which always resets the OBDII emissions parameters). If other hardware changed the updated tune may be required for operation of the vehicle.

I'm surprised CA is reaching that far back for this. The Lund Mustang crowd is going to get surprised!
 
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nota4re

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Le Mans 2010 Supporter
Feb 15, 2006
3,792
Yes, the fact that tunes are detectable is not new news.

What IS new news is that CARB is allegedly extracting your tune file at the time of your smog test and is uploading that to Sacramento. That tune file is allegedly compared to what would be an OEM tune and when they are different a flag gets checked.

All of this has yet to be validated. One thing that is curious for this process is why the registration itself doesn't state that you need to go to a referee. I mean, if they have the information it is a little bit strange that you first have to go to a "normal" smog station and it is only there that you are notified that you need to go see a referee.

NOTE: The SMOG station operator never gets to the point of connecting to the OBD2. This discovery is made as soon as the car's VIN is entered into the test equipment.
 
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analogdesigner

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Nov 15, 2005
935
San Clemente, CA USA
Yup, I got screwed by this about nine months ago. My guy tried three times entering my car's VIN and the same "referee station" message came up. He had never seen this before. I just sent my registration fees in however I do not have a current tag. Not sure what to do. UPDATE on 7/29: I did have a custom "mild" tune and in the past it's always passed by a big margin.

Jay
 
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jr66

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Sep 22, 2017
198
scottsdale
California government is getting more invasive by the day. Big Brother is in charge. Sad
 

The Grey Ghost

GT Owner
Mar 13, 2009
595
Kansas City
A lot of repair shops report general maintenance and mechanical repairs to Carfax through their POS systems.
Is it possible a tune shop is integrated in to those type of systems?
 

twobjshelbys

GT Owner
Jul 26, 2010
5,344
Las Vegas, NV
NOTE: The SMOG station operator never gets to the point of connecting to the OBD2. This discovery is made as soon as the car's VIN is entered into the test equipment.
Wow, that means they have obtained tune file info in previous tests and flagging it now... Big brother HAS BEEN watching.

I'm not surprised that CA is doing this. The way they handled "kit cars" with the SB100 process was an unmitigated disaster.
 

twobjshelbys

GT Owner
Jul 26, 2010
5,344
Las Vegas, NV
Yup, I got screwed by this about nine months ago. My guy tried three times entering my car's VIN and the same "referee station" message came up. He had never seen this before. I just sent my registration fees in however I do not have a current tag. Not sure what to do. I have a custom "mild" tune and I thought that I reset it to the factory settings over a year ago when I was doing some troubleshooting.
After restoring the factory tune did you run the drive cycle and look at the OBDII characteristics? Nonetheless, having restored it to factory (which in no way requires the "proof" that they describe) you'd still have to go them to prove it.
 

w.a.nelson

GT Owner
Mark II Lifetime
Feb 29, 2008
897
Asbury, NJ and Bourne, MA
Do the "referees" wear striped shirts and have whistles?

Seriously, what the hell is a referee station?

CA is cool! Leading the way to oblivion.

If we have a Ford Performance Pulley and Tune, do we have a problem? Has Ford said anything about this scenario?
 

nota4re

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Le Mans 2010 Supporter
Feb 15, 2006
3,792
The Ford Performance pulley/tune was fully CARB approved and has an EO number making it 100% legal.
 

twobjshelbys

GT Owner
Jul 26, 2010
5,344
Las Vegas, NV
The Ford Performance pulley/tune was fully CARB approved and has an EO number making it 100% legal.
I'd wager its not just ford gt owners getting this. John lund will send you a tune in email for mustang (did he ever do gts?)

Thats why I mentioned some non original factory tunes would be ok if they have a carb #. Makes me wish I'd chosen that one instead of 50hp more. Not available any more.

I dont know if ford gt Whipple were carb'd. Their mustang kits were from frpp were.
 
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twobjshelbys

GT Owner
Jul 26, 2010
5,344
Las Vegas, NV
Come to think of it I now recall seeing on another forum that ca was going to disallow tuned cars. I'll bet this the start. I remember thinking I'd not seen anything from sema since they usually lobby on this stuff knowing what happens in ca soon snowballs. I recall thinking at the time that lund would get a lot less business. Ill try to find the reference but it was probably 6 months ago.
 
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Iconic GT

GT Owner
Mark II Lifetime
Dec 30, 2017
618
Texas
Montana Registration doesnt require insprections..... (yet)
 

twobjshelbys

GT Owner
Jul 26, 2010
5,344
Las Vegas, NV
Colorado did a roundup of Montana registered motor homes and boats (these are almost always parked outside). It wasn't a pretty sight. All had to pay state sales tax, back registrations and penalties.
 

ChipBeck

GT Owner
Staff member
Mark IV Lifetime
Le Mans 2010 Supporter
Feb 13, 2006
5,596
Scottsdale, Arizona
Gentlemen,

I'm glad I was born in 1956 and got to live in the golden age of the sovereign individual. These big brother intrusions are maddening. I honestly don't know why so many people choose to stay in CA.

Chip
 

Specracer

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Nov 28, 2005
6,490
MA
Not to be a "Debbie downer" but this is exactly why I pretty much leave my cars stock (minus maybe a "cat back"). MA has had state inspections for my entire life. Then emissions came along, and started with the tail pipe "sniffers", now on to a OBD2 scan. At least after 15 years the emissions compliance is only "visual".

2 years ago, MA even added cameras in the bays, and the inspecting guy has to take further pics (VIN, front back of car etc). Big fun...
 

analogdesigner

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Nov 15, 2005
935
San Clemente, CA USA
After restoring the factory tune did you run the drive cycle and look at the OBDII characteristics? Nonetheless, having restored it to factory (which in no way requires the "proof" that they describe) you'd still have to go them to prove it.
Tony,

I corrected my original post. I always did have a mild tune installed since I had the Roush pulley back in 2006. I was told that it would easily pass and over the years it always did. So I was rejected the moment the VIN was entered, we never actually tested the car.

Jay
 

GEE-TEE

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Le Mans 2010 Supporter
May 1, 2009
575
Calabasas, California
This is really nuts:mad:. I had to deal with Referee and BAR and all that nonsense when I was registering the Cobra replica Backdraft a few years ago. It was a 6 month PITA. So far I have not had an issue and just recently did the smog and registration for my 06 GT. I also have pulley and tune which was installed by Cooltech some 13 years ago. Thankfully I have been ok for now. (y)
 

nota4re

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Le Mans 2010 Supporter
Feb 15, 2006
3,792
Yes, of the two cars that we know have been flagged, neither are cars that we upgraded. I was hoping to find a common denominator but one was tuned in SoCal by a shop that is no longer around and the other one had a tune sent from East coast.
 
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