In the 2009-2010 legislative session, hobbyists defeated bills in Hawaii, Kansas, Nebraska, Virginia, and West Virginia that would have established unreasonable restrictions on backyard restoration projects. In response to these and other anti-hobbyist efforts, SEMA has drafted its own inoperable vehicle bill that's fair to restorers while still considerate of neighbors who don't want a junkyard operating next door. The SEMA model bill simply states that project vehicles and their parts must be maintained or stored outside of "ordinary public view." States can adopt this model legislation as their own; in 2005, Kentucky did just that. This past session, Vermont also chose to protect hobbyists from a bill that was targeted at salvage yards. The new law increases the regulation of salvage yards in the state, but includes a provision stipulating that hobbyists are not to be confused with the owners of automobile graveyards. The new law defines an "automobile hobbyist" as a person not primarily engaged in the sale of vehicles and parts or dismantling junk vehicles. Further, the definition of "automobile graveyard" does not include an area used by an automobile hobbyist for storage and restoration purposes, provided their activities comply with federal, state, and municipal law.
Emissions & Smog Check Programs
Many states operate their own smog check programs in areas that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated as a "nonattainment area," meaning that the area has not attained the EPA's required air quality. The EPA checks for carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide when designating these areas, and when an area does not meet the standard for any individual pollutant, or any combination of the pollutants, then it is placed on the list of nonattainment areas.
Many states have incorporated the OBD testing method as part of the vehicle emissions inspection for 1996-and-newer vehicles which replace tailpipe tests by identifying emissions problems through information stored in the vehicle's onboard computer system. Some states have even proposed only testing vehicles with the OBD test, limiting the vehicles that need to be tested to those manufactured in 1996 and later. The Inspection and Maintenance (I/M) 240 is an enhanced emissions testing program, with "240" indicating the number of seconds that the tailpipe portion of the test lasts. I/M 240 tests require visual inspection of emissions control devices, an evaporative emissions test, and a transient drive-cycle exhaust emissions test performed while the vehicle is running on rollers. Due to improper training or unclear legality, many state programs mistakenly fail vehicles in the visual test based on the presence of aftermarket engine products, or force older collector vehicles to undergo some type of testing.
To remedy this situation, policy makers must properly focus inspection procedures and not confuse legitimate aftermarket parts with emission defeat devices and tampering violations. The hobby must also pursue proactive legislative initiatives to establish exemptions from inspections for low-mileage vehicles, classic vehicles (defined as 25 years old and older) and newer vehicles. It is useful to remind legislators that the emissions from this small portion of the vehicle fleet are negligible. This is especially true when you consider the low miles typically driven by hobby vehicles and the excellent condition in which these vehicles are maintained.