Demystifying the Emissions Certification Process

 SEMA Garage Test It
The SEMA Garage is available to make the emissions certification process as easy and affordable as possible for members.

By Monika Earle

The SEMA Garage is available to help auto parts manufacturers develop products from start to finish. For many manufacturers, the process includes obtaining emissions certification. Emissions certification is required for almost all performance and engine-related products, and the SEMA Garage is available to make the process as easy and affordable as possible.

Here are the basics about the emissions certification process:

  • Emissions compliance is a legal requirement. Both the state of California and the federal government have laws making it illegal for a company to sell products for street vehicles that could impact emissions. But products can comply with these laws by proving that the product does not increase emissions and has gone through the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Executive Order (E.O.) process.
  • Emissions compliance applies to almost all performance and engine products. Generally, any product that affects airflow into or out of the engine, impacts the containment or delivery of fuel or affects the functionality of an emissions control system or device requires an E.O. from CARB for that product to be legal for street use. This includes, but is not limited to, intake systems, exhaust components, tuning products, turbos and superchargers.  
  • “49 State Legal” isn’t really a thing. A common misconception is that as long as you don’t sell your product in California, it is 49-state legal. This is not the case. The Federal Clean Air Act prevents the modification of vehicles with products that impact emissions unless the product is certified, just like California. In order for an engine-related product to be legal anywhere in the U.S., it must complete a certification process.  Currently, the only certification process is the E.O. program administered by CARB.
  • The CARB E.O. process provides coverage for all 50 states. California has a process that allows aftermarket manufacturers to certify their products. CARB will issue an E.O. to products that have gone through an application and testing process. The CARB E.O. is recognized by the Federal EPA as demonstrating emissions compliance and provides coverage for all 50 states.
  • Both CARB and EPA have the ability to enforce. Both government entities that oversee air quality (CARB and EPA) have the ability to administer fines against manufacturers, sellers, installers and users of products that do not comply with the clean air laws.  
  • SEMA is here to help. Emissions compliance should be considered a priority for manufacturers that make engine-related products that are intended for street use. SEMA has experts and resources available to help members navigate the process. The SEMA Garage in Diamond Bar, CA, includes a lab where members are able to test their products at an affordable cost and obtain CARB EOs.
To learn more about the SEMA Garage and the emissions certification process, contact Peter Treydte at or visit