Used engines from outside the United States

This page last reviewed December 20, 2013

Information about using engines from vehicles first sold in Japan

California law prohibits the modification of any pollution control vehicle unless the manufacturer of modification has received an "Executive Order" from the ARB indicating that the modification does not increase smog-forming emissions. The ARB has also established guidelines for manufacturers and distributors of "Replacement Parts" to ensure that they are functionally identical to the original and will not increase emissions when used for normal maintenance and repairs. Because of similar well-documented certification requirements, California law allows the limited use of used engines from vehicles first sold in Japan when the engine is used strictly as a "replacement part.

In order to be considered a replacement part, an engine from a vehicle first sold in Japan must:

  • Be functionally identical to the original vehicle engine
  • Be clearly identified as identical to the specific application* it is sold for. Listing must be in a public accessible website or printed catalog published by the importer or distributor
  • Allow the installation of any California-specific emission control equipment
  • Not included any components or modifications that are not part of the original California Certified vehicle
  • Not cause any OBD system failures or "trouble codes" when installed

* Application is specific vehicle year, make, model, engine size and Engine Family Number or Test Group

Important Notes

Non-USA or engines originally sold in Japan CANNOT be used in California approved engine changes.

Use of engines not considered "Replacement Parts" are subject to laboratory testing requirements for Non-USA vehicles.

Distributors or importers of non-USA specification engines must verify any questions of legality prior to retail sale in California.Distributors are responsible for any engines sold that are later determined not to be California Identical.

How to tell what standards an engine was built to

All vehicles sold in the United States have a unique drive-train identifier called the "Test Group" or "Engine Family Number". This number allows owners, parts suppliers, and service providers to determine specifications and installed emissions control equipment of motor vehicles. Because many vehicles may have several different configurations, this number will provide specific information about the emissions control system and exact standards that a vehicle was designed to meet.

The Vehicle Emission Control Information label is located in the engine compartment in a clearly visible position, most often directly on the underside of the hood. The following diagram can help you locate your vehicles label.