Motormouth: Go with a California-compliant catalytic converter

Motormouth: Go with a California-compliant catalytic converter

When installing a catalytic converter, do one that's California Air Resources Board compliant.

When installing a catalytic converter, do one that's California Air Resources Board compliant. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Q: My 2010 Subaru Forester needs a catalytic converter. The car has a California CARB-compliant cat. I live in Connecticut. Do I have to replace it with a California unit or can I use a 48-state one?

- J.C., Danbury, Conn.

A: The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environment requires that vehicles sold in the state since 2008 meet strict California emission standards. Motor vehicles certified to California emission standards meet more stringent standards for hydrocarbons (HC), nitrogen oxides (NOx); and carbon monoxide (CO) than vehicles certified to the federal standards. Also, the engine management system is calibrated for that unit.

Short answer? Yes, you should install a cat that is CARB (California Air Resources Board) compliant.

Q: Why are manufacturers' Technical Service Bulletins no longer public domain? I always learned something about my vehicle from reading them.

- B.N., Glenview, Ill.

A: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website says: You can find free summaries of many technical service bulletins for a specific vehicle (along with details about safety investigations, complaints, and other information) by entering your vehicle's year, make and model at and clicking on the "Service Bulletins" tab.

Q: A friend of mine changes his own brake fluid in his cars. Before he sends new fluid to each wheel, he puts a small amount of food coloring dye in the master cylinder. He says by doing this, there is no question whether or not new fluid has gotten to each wheel.

He has been doing this for many years and says there has never been a problem. Do you think that this could cause any harm to the brake system?

- A.A., New Tripoli, Pa.

A: I would not advise it. Food coloring is water based and the hydraulic system should be water free. The water can boil and vaporize from the heat generated during braking. Vapor can be compressed causing the brakes to fade.



Bob Weber is a writer and mechanic who became an ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician in 1976. He maintains this status by seeking certification every five years. Weber's work appears in professional trade magazines and other consumer publications. His writing also appears in automotive trade publications, Consumer Guide and Consumers Digest.

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