When it comes to selecting the right replacement catalytic converter for your vehicle there are several key factors to consider. In this guide we will discuss the differences in emissions regulations by state that determine which catalytic converter is the right fit and will meet the required emissions regulations.
In addition to a catalytic converter that meets state level emissions regulations, it’s also important to select the right catalytic converter configuration for your particular vehicle application. MagnaFlow catalytic converters are available in two such configurations: direct-fit and universal.
As the name implies, direct-fit converters are designed to replace the specific application's OEM (original equipment manufacturer) part directly without modification—no fabrication required. Such precision is possible thanks to extensive use of 3D scans to ensure perfect, OEM-like fitment. Because of this, some customers choose to install our direct-fit converters themselves. Conversely, universal catalytic converters offer compatibility with a wide range of vehicles based upon its physical universal design and specific emissions standard loading. As a result of this adaptability, universal converters generally require additional fabrication, for which professional installation is highly recommended.
There are two different emissions regulation standards to be aware of: Federal/EPA and California/CARB compliant. These standards may be different from the state in which the vehicle is registered and applicable to specific model years of vehicles based on the make and model of the application. It’s important to note that the state in which the vehicle is registered and not the origin of the vehicle's purchase or use must be considered for legal compliance.
EPA/Federal and Non-California Compliant States:
Most states adhere to emissions regulations set at the federal level by the EPA. At MagnaFlow we offer three grades of catalytic converters to meet the needs of customers in Federal emissions regulated states: OEM grade, HM grade and Standard grade.
OEM grade catalytic converters are manufactured with the required precious metals to be compliant for OBDII (1996 and newer) vehicles with California or Federal/EPA emissions systems registered and operated outside of California. HM grade products are compliant with OBDII vehicles equipped with Federal/EPA emissions systems. They can also be used on California emissions vehicles in select applications where MagnaFlow does not offer an OEM converter in vehicles registered and operated outside of California. Standard grade converters are compliant with pre-OBDII vehicles (manufactured prior to 1996). In short, for California regulation vehicles registered and operated outside the state of CA, we recommend purchasing an OEM grade converter if available, whereas either an OEM or HM grade converter is recommended for EPA regulation vehicles. Please note, these products are EPA/Federal legal and cannot be sold in the states of California or Colorado.
If your vehicle is OBDII (1996 or newer) the first step to selecting the right converter for your vehicle is to locate the vehicle emissions control information (VECI) tag. This can be found on or near the underside of the hood, the suspension tower or the radiator shroud. Note, that in some cases the VECI may be missing due to exposure to the elements or an accident, in which case you should go to your dealer with your VIN information to get a replacement tag.
Next, what you’ll want to look for is the emissions certification level, which can be found in the text of the VECI tag. This information will tell you whether your vehicle conforms to California or EPA regulations. Make note of this information or take a photo of the label for later reference. If your vehicle is pre-OBDII (1995 or older) you can skip this step. You’ll be able to find the Standard grade converter you need using only the year, make, model and engine of your vehicle.
MagnaFlow.com makes it easy to select and purchase the right catalytic converter for your vehicle. Using the dropdown options of the Shop by Vehicle feature on the website choose the year, make, model, sub-model, and engine configuration of your vehicle. You will then be prompted to select the state that your vehicle is registered in. Please note that on occasion you may be asked for additional vehicle qualifier information. You can now make your selection from the available catalytic converter options that are listed on the screen for your vehicle.
California & Colorado:
The state of California has the strictest emissions standards in the United States. This, combined with the fact that the state also has the largest auto market in country means that CA is uniquely positioned to influence the emissions regulations of other states, such as Colorado. In fact, Colorado adopted the same standards as those set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).
As a result, both states require OBDII vehicles (model year 1996 or later) registered in their jurisdiction to be fitted with CARB compliant catalytic converters. To ensure that you select the right converter it’s important to locate the vehicle emissions control information (VECI) tag. You can find it on or near the underside of the hood, the suspension tower or radiator shroud. If your VECI is missing or damaged due to exposure to the elements or accident damage you should go to your dealer with your VIN information so that you can get a replacement label. Once you’ve located the VECI, you need to examine it to find the Engine Family Number (EFN). This number is specific to the engine inside your vehicle and identifies the emissions certification of the vehicle. Copy this information down or take a photo of the label for later reference. In the case that you’ve bought a used vehicle (non-regulations compliant) and brought it into the state of California, you may need to see a referee for additional steps required.
If your vehicle is OBDII (1996 or newer) you can then use the Shop by Vehicle tool on MagnaFlow.com, select your state, and then select the relevant EFN number. Once you input all this information you will then be shown all compatible direct-fit and universal converter options. Pre-OBDII vehicles can skip the VECI/EFN step and use basic vehicle information and the Shop by Vehicle tool to find the right California Pre-OBDII catalytic converter.
Like Colorado, New York adopted the emissions standards set by the California Air Resources Board. As such, for California emissions vehicles registered in the state of New York that are model year 1993, 1994, 1996 and newer, a CARB compliant catalytic converter is required to legally register and operate your vehicle.
OBDII vehicles registered in the state of New York with Federal EPA regulated emissions systems should use either our OEM grade or HM grade replacement converters. These types of converters are also an option for model year 1995 vehicles with California emissions systems. For model year 1995 California emissions vehicles we recommend an OEM grade converter, although an HM grade converter can be used in select applications where we do not offer an OEM grade converter.
To ensure that you select the right converter for your vehicle, the first step is to locate the vehicle emissions control information (VECI) tag, which can be found on or near the underside of the hood, the suspension tower or the radiator shroud. The tag may be missing due to exposure to the elements or accident damage. If it’s missing, we strongly recommend going to your dealer with your VIN information so that they can print you out a replacement tag. Once you locate the tag, you’ll want to verify the emissions certification level of your vehicle. This information can be found in the text of the label and will note if the vehicle conforms to either EPA or California regulations. For California regulation vehicles model year 1996 and newer you will want to look for the engine family number (EFN). This number is specific to the engine inside your vehicle, which also identifies the emissions certification of your vehicle. Copy this information down or take a photo of the label for later reference.
The EFN is only relevant for vehicles with California emissions systems. In fact, pre-OBDII vehicles can skip the step of looking for the VECI, certification level or EFN, as you will just need the year, make, model and engine information to find the correct Standard grade part for your vehicle.
As always, the Shop by Vehicle tool on MagnaFlow.com can guide you through the process to ensure that you pick the right converter for your state and vehicle. Just choose your ride’s year, make, model, sub-model and engine configuration. Then select the state your vehicle is registered in. If your vehicle is OBDII, please select your EFN from those listed. Once you’ve entered the relevant information (occasionally additional details are required) you will then see a webpage featuring all the compatible catalytic converters that we have available for your vehicle.
In Maine your vehicle will need either a California/CARB or Federal/EPA compliant catalytic converter. CARB compliant catalytic converters are required for model year 2001 or newer vehicles with California emissions systems. California emissions vehicles model year 2000 and older may use a federal part. For such vehicles, we recommend using one of our OEM grade converters, although an HM grade converter may be used if we do not offer an OEM part for a particular vehicle application. We recommend HM grade converters for OBDII vehicles with Federal emissions systems. Standard grade converters are compliant with pre-OBDII vehicles manufactured prior to 1996.
If your vehicle is OBDII (typically model 1996 and newer) you should start by locating the vehicle emissions control information (VECI) tag, which you can find on or near the underside of the hood, the suspension tower or the radiator shroud. If the VECI tag is missing—as can occur due to exposure or accident damage—we strongly recommend going back to your dealer with your VIN information so that they can create a new label for you.
The VECI lists the emissions certification level for your vehicle and will indicate whether you need a California or Federal EPA part. The VECI also contains your vehicle’s engine family number (EFN), which you will need if your vehicle is a California emissions vehicle model year 2001 and newer. Your vehicle’s EFN number is specific to its engine and will be needed to select the correct CARB compliant replacement converter. We recommend copying all this information down or taking a photo of the label for later reference.
MagnaFlow.com makes it easy to select the right catalytic converter for your vehicle. Using our Shop by Vehicle tool you just need to start by inputting the year, make, model, sub-model and engine configuration of your vehicle. Next, select the state that your vehicle is registered in. If your vehicle is model year 2001 and newer with a California emissions system you will next be asked to pick the correct EFN from those listed. Once you’ve completed those steps the next webpage will display all the MagnaFlow replacement catalytic converters that we have to offer for your vehicle and the state it’s registered in. Occasionally, additional information is required.
Need Help? Give us a call!
No matter which MagnaFlow catalytic converter you purchase, you’ll be getting the same corrosion resistant stainless-steel construction, engineered to keep the check engine light off. If you have further questions regarding picking the right converter or need help with installation, please feel free to give our tech line a call at (800) 990-0905 and we’ll be happy to help. Check out our social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter) and weekly blogs to stay up to date on upcoming product releases.