View Full Version : Headers legal?

01-31-2006, 08:31 PM
I submitted a thread earlier asking you about exhaust recommendations for my '03 Cobra. After MUCH consideration, I finally came up with a header, h-pipe, catback combo that I want. However, last night I heard questions come up about whether long tube headers are street legal. I emailed BBK and MAC about this and they both replied today and said that, no, their long tube headers are not street legal. One of the reasons they listed was that the long tubes cancel the first two catalytic converters and therefore a car won't pass smog.

My question: Are long tube headers street legal? If it's a catalytic converter/smog issue, wouldn't an h-pipe with high flow cats built into it take care of that? Is this a state by state law? If so, does anyone know what the laws are for Ohio and Georgia (I'm military and am able to register in either state)?

Thanks for the help

02-01-2006, 12:14 AM
I would think that it is a "state by state" thing as far as if it will pass emissions or not and I'm not familiar with how things are done in Ohio or Georgia to be honest. I have heard of some people with long tube headers taking their cars in to be inspected and they passed the smog test with a catted h-pipe. Here again I'd say it depends on the state.

I took my car in for inspection last September and I have a set of MAC long tubes on my car. I changed the midpipe out for the catted h (had the ProChamber on before) and took it to be inspected. Only 600+ to the tires and it passed with flying colors :D They basically just looked up under the car to make sure it had the converters on it... plugged into the OBDII port and checked out the computer. No codes whatsoever and I was on my way :)

I put the ProChamber back on after I did the clutch swap late last year... but I do at times switch back and forth between the two midpipes. The catted h is just a little quieter and doesn't drone quite as bad as the ProChamber. It depends on where I'm going and who exactly might be in the car with me ;) I've got the switching midpipes down to a science now... I can have the car in the air, the midpipes changed and back on the ground in about 30 minutes. If only I got paid for that kinda stuff... :p


02-02-2006, 06:20 AM
Unfortunately, it is a federal law, not state law. Removal of functional cats on a pollution controlled vehicle is illegal. Any component that causes removal of such parts is considered braking the law. The only legal way to remove the cats is if they were determined to be defective and the exact equipment must used on the repair. That law also included replacing all 4 cats with after market components even if they are the same thing. Typically the systems employed on the modern vehicles follow the strict mandates published by the California law makers. So in otherwords, some states may be strict in what gets passed where as other states may not even consider looking at the exhaust components to see if they are still there. Legally, you cannot remove anything related to the emissions control system even if you intend to replace it with the exact same part. Since the local state (depending on which state) may have different inspection requirements, it is possible to install long tube headers, and a short catted mid pipe and still be smog legal if it will pass the emissions test if it is performed electronically (ODBII port initiated). Also, if you plan on modifying the exhuast components in that regard, do not take it to a ford dealer for emissions testing since they know what belongs under the vehicle.

I doubt that you would get fined by installing high performance exhaust components and it is possible to do it and still pass emissions. Read this if you want too. :(


Speeding is illegal too, but that does not stop everyone from speeding.

02-04-2006, 08:31 AM
Thanks for the replies. Ausie, you made it black and white, thanks. I didn't realize there was an EPA mandate. But Shannon, since it'll pass emissions just fine with just the two cats...I think the mandate is ridiculous. I mean...isn't that the point? Clean air? If anyone's interested, here's what I found out about Ohio and Georgia. Ohio has emissions inspections but would probably only go the length of what Shannon was describing...a visual check and the machine. Georgia has no emissions checks or emissions laws.

02-05-2006, 10:38 AM
As for the state side of the deal, if they do not require emissions inspection, chances are you can make changes without any issues on a yearly basis.

It is possible to change or modify the mid pipe with aftermarket components, and it is possible to get a catted mid pipe for use with long tube headers since there are different collector designs available. I would look into Kooks custom headers or JBA for information. Of course all such components such as headers, mid pipes and anything related to the function of the exhaust including cams will state not street legal (some cams are not street legal due to the overlap of intake and exhaust valve durations) mainly to pertain to California emissions requirements.