Amendments to regulations pertaining to light-, medium-, and heavy-truck onboard diagnostic systems have been unanimously approved by the California Air Resources Board. This amendment would bring further data requirements, mandating that more data would need to be stored by OBD systems. Malfunction monitor issues would need to be immediately addressed, as well.
These changes would boost OBD system standardization regulations in an effort to adequately solve the issues regarding fault code number limitations that are able to be defined, as well as real-time diagnostic aspects that need improvements.
CARB’s annual smog check program, as well as its heavy-duty truck inspection and maintenance program, would see major upgrades from this amendment, which would bring an additional inspection tool to the programs themselves. The updates are set to be approved by the board by the end of the year.
“Board considers amendments to on-board diagnostic (OBD) system [regulations] requiring [boosted] data stored by OBD benefiting vehicle owners–ensuring malfunctions are promptly repaired, excess emissions [are lowered], and performance [is improved]” said CARB in a recent tweet.
The tweet also featured a graphic listing the reason for these changes, which stated that “program updates will occur regularly,” and listed these updates as occurring due to “technology forcing regulation,” that there will be “periodic reviews to check progress,” and notes the fact that the “last comprehensive OBD update” occurred in 2018. The graphic also mentioned that the “proposed changes address” the “need for more diagnostic information from vehicles, industry concerns,” and “issues discovered through OBD certification.”
The regulation regarding the smog test will require carriers operating in California–whether or not they are based in the state–to submit certified smog tests before crossing into California. Additionally, carriers would see extended timelines when they operate three or fewer trucks that are not compliant with these rules, and will have extended time for truck repairs to meet standards.
On August 3rd, CARB will host a public workshop to discuss pilot program details in regards to the proposed Heavy-Duty Inspection and Maintenance program and to go over the new regulatory language at hand. Stakeholders will have an opportunity to offer feedback at this time, and the formal rule-making process is expected to begin as soon as October.
“California light- and medium-duty vehicles are required to meet very stringent emissions standards,” said Chairman Liane Randolph. “The emissions standards for heavy-duty engines have also become significantly more stringent.”
California is likely to implement the new smog check program as new operating requirements for the state as soon as 2023, ATA noted.
“The CARB workshop will be the last opportunity to give input before it’s formally proposed in October,” said California-based American Trucking Associations environmental researcher, Mike Tunnell. “They’re looking at using the OBD data as the evidence that your truck doesn’t have the malfunction indicator lamp on for any fault codes. That data would get sent to CARB to confirm that the truck is operating without any mechanical issues related to its emissions control system.”
These updates are long-awaited, as onboard diagnostics standards have not been updated since 2018, added CARB’s executive officer, Richard Corey.
“Since then, the agency’s staff has identified several changes that are needed to improve the effectiveness of the regulation, as well as its implementation,” he explained.
According to CARB, new scan tools will not be required for shops or mechanics through these upgrades, because existing hardware will have software updates installed in a timely manner. By model year 2023, vehicles will see early implementation of this updated technology, and model year 2025 models will be required to be equipped with this software
“OBDs have been incorporated in heavy-duty trucks since 2013,” said Tunnell. “It’s already part of the manufacturing process, and the requirements applying to them.”
Still, though, the industry needs to be careful to make sure all OBD provision changes made are clearly referenced in the OBD regulations, explained vice president of the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association, Tia Sutton.
CARB should “take note of the multiple pending and overlapping programs, especially in cases where regulatory changes to one program would create conflicting or duplicative regulatory requirements with another program, as will be the case here,” she said.