California Legal Engine Swaps

yj4roks

Observer
The engine in my 1990 Jeep YJ is done...the ECM is no longer available and mine is not repairable, and trust me, I have searched high and low for one. The one or two I have found (used) they want $500 for it with no warranty. I would really like to install the Cummins R2.8 but it has not yet received an executive order. I want it because I think it will be an "easier" swap since there are a lot of packages where I don't have to source parts all over. Since it appears it won't be available here anytime soon, does anyone know of another option with a Chevy V6 or V8 that would be as close to California turnkey as possible? When I search the web, I keep getting all the law related crap and not an actual retailer or shop that could provide this engine. I would like to retain my current Chevy SM420 transmission which is why looking for mostly a Chevy swap.
 

ExpoMike

Well-known member
The only CA smog legal turn key engine for swapping in that I am aware of is the E-Rod V8 engine. It is an LS based setup that has been certified for CA swaps. Everything else you are likely going to have to piece together and get it certified legal by a CARB referee.

 

Kmrtnsn

Explorer
The only CA smog legal turn key engine for swapping in that I am aware of is the E-Rod V8 engine. It is an LS based setup that has been certified for CA swaps. Everything else you are likely going to have to piece together and get it certified legal by a CARB referee.

I'm pretty sure that won't fit under the hood of a YJ. Not that I don't like the idea...…..
 

javajoe79

Fabricator
I'm pretty sure that won't fit under the hood of a YJ. Not that I don't like the idea...…..
Sure it will. Plenty of people have LS swapped YJs. Just using that engine won't make it legal though as far as I know. You'll still have to get it certified by a CARB ref. My understanding is that any newer engine can be swapped in but it will have to have all the appropriate emissions parts. Evap, cats, EGR maybe. I would start with trying to talk to a CARB ref and go from there.
 

ExpoMike

Well-known member
I'm pretty sure that won't fit under the hood of a YJ. Not that I don't like the idea...…..
Sure it will. :) Heck people are putting LS engines in Miatas which is a smaller engine bay.

No matter what you do, you are likely going to need to have a CARB referee certify whatever swap you do. The E-Rod is the only complete engine kit certified for swaps. You can do most any other engine swap but you will have to piece everything together. That is best done if you have the entire donor vehicle to pull all of the parts from. All of the people I know who have done swaps, talked with the ref beforehand to get as much info that the ref is going to require, before starting.

Good luck. It can be done but it will not be quick or easy or likely cheap. You honestly might be better off looking for a new Jeep, as it likely will be cheaper if you factor in your cost, time and frustration.
 

85_Ranger4x4

Active member
Good luck. It can be done but it will not be quick or easy or likely cheap. You honestly might be better off looking for a new Jeep, as it likely will be cheaper if you factor in your cost, time and frustration.
Or a parts Jeep with a good ECM.
 

NatersXJ6

Explorer
You might have better luck asking a referee about aftermarket EFI... I don’t know much about it, but that is another thought.
 

b dkw1

Observer
LS swaps are pretty easy and strait forward. It would still be easier to register it in another state that to run it through the ref. Even after you get it passed the ref, getting it smogged every 2 years will be a hassle. A lot of shops will not even look a swapped vehicles.
 

doug720

Expedition Leader
FYI - On one of the major LandCruiser sites - IH8MUD, a vendor who has done dozens of the E-Rod swaps stated that CA no longer allows these swaps! I had also read, that GM stopped making the smog legal E-Rod swap kits.

Out of state registration was mentioned earlier, but that has issues also. We live in 2 states and have multiple vehicles in each state. Sometimes, we will end up with driving one of the cars registered in the other state for a few weeks or longer in the other state. Cops do notice these things, and tickets are a revenue source, so it's a joy to be asked by a cop why you have a license for one state, while driving a vehicle from another state! They can and do write fix it tickets, and make the driver show a judge why!!! This has only happened in CA so far! Remember, you can only have one drivers license too!

I also know that if the vehicle is stored/used/kept out of the state, you can keep and renew the CA registration, but not have to smog it until it returns!!! My daughter has her car out of state for school, and our motorhome is stored in Montana at my sisters house, we just registered both without smog tests. There is a section on the CADMV website that addresses this situation. Parts of Nevada and Arizona are considered too close to CA, and CA makes you return the vehicle to CA and smog the vehicle anyway, or will not renew registration. As our vehiles are well out of the range, all we had to do was file a affidavit from the DMV website, and pay regular renewal fee. You are supposed to start doing smog tests when the vehicles returns to state, but I don't see a time limit. Our RV will be out of CA for the next 3-4 years as we travel around US, and out daughters car will be out of state for 4-6 years at school.

Good luck.

PS - Faulty computers are going/have become the Achilles Heals of vehicles. MY in laws just scrapped a car for the same reason. The PCM died for the third time. None are available new, no one rebuilds them, and after the third used failed...Scraped it! Neighbor has a late ninety's Suburban with a common fault of the Check Engine light stays on due to a faulty ECM/PCM/Etc, so it wont pass smog. They are on third computer, and they all fail after a few months.

Planned obsolescence!!!
 
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blubullett

New member

Not sure which engine you have or what control unit you are looking for but there are a bunch for 120 bucks for the 4.2 in my area on there. If you want to do a full blown engine swap you will be piecing it together yourself. Also, you can't swap gas to diesel in CA. Even if the Cummins gets the E.O. number it will only be legal for existing diesel vehicles.

www.car-part.com to search for used parts near you.
 
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gatorgrizz27

Active member
Not familiar with CA’s insane laws, it in most states as long as the engine you’re swapping is newer than the vehicle you’re good to go. Would it be possible to just put some type of factory branded plastic cover over whatever engine you swap in, and as long as it meets emissions and you don’t throw codes, pass with flying colors?
 

javajoe79

Fabricator
Not familiar with CA’s insane laws, it in most states as long as the engine you’re swapping is newer than the vehicle you’re good to go. Would it be possible to just put some type of factory branded plastic cover over whatever engine you swap in, and as long as it meets emissions and you don’t throw codes, pass with flying colors?
CA does a visual inspection of emissions components, a sniffer test on a dyno and a computer check. Swapping in something newer works as long as you keep all the emissions stuff that motor had originally.
 
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