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California Looking To Restrict Out-Of-State Diesel Motorhomes


Diesel Motorhome on narrow road surrounded by trees.

Going To California? 

When Led Zepplin wrote Going to California in 1971 they apparently weren’t thinking about diesel motorhomes in 2023. If they had, they would be surprised to know that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has announced, as reported by the RV Industry Association, that they are,

“…developing a Heavy-Duty Inspection/Maintenance regulatory concept to make sure that non-gasoline powered vehicles greater than 14,000 lbs. operating in California (including vehicles registered out of state) have properly functioning emissions control systems. While this is only a regulatory concept right now, CARB said the intention is that it will eventually become a regulation that would establish a smog check program for heavy-duty diesels. The new requirements being considered by CARB could have huge implications for diesel motorhome owners.”

With CARB planning a workshop for late March, a full regulatory proposal is not likely to be sent to the Board until near the end of this year, with an anticipated effective date in 2023. The elephant in the room of course is, how many of our diesel pushers will pass a California smog check?

Conform Or Be Cast Out

As many rush to get this story in front of RVers, RV Pro recently reported, adding that the rulemaking that is under development, as mandated by California Senate Bill 210 will require owners of diesel motorhomes nationwide to,

“…obtain an annual certificate of conformity from CARB in order to operate their vehicles on California roads.”

This conformity would be expected regardless of where your diesel motorhome is registered. Senate Bill 210, which introduced the Heavy-Duty Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Program was originally designed to help control emissions generated by the heavy trucking industry. The obvious question is, how much will that annual certificate cost? The RVIA also notes that, 

“While this is only a regulatory concept right now, the intention is for this to eventually become a regulation that would essentially establish a smog check program for heavy-duty diesels. The new requirements being considered by CARB could have huge implications for diesel motorhome owners.” 

Truckin’

Though not dead yet, gratefully, CARB laws are already affecting the diesel industry in California. The state made big news with an executive order banning the sale of new gas or diesel vehicles by 2035. On June 25, 2020 CARB unanimously voted to require truck manufacturers to begin the transition from diesel to zero-emission trucks in 2024, with a full zero-emission expectation date of 2045. 

For most of us, that date seemed pretty far off and the likelihood of it affecting our ability to steer a diesel pusher into The Golden State wasn’t concerning. This recent news however changes that. If you are planning to visit one of the thousands of RV parks in California, you’d better do it soon. 

Fight The Good Fight

In order to give RVers a voice and hopefully triumph over what could be a devastating blow to the RV park and resort industry in California, the RV Industry Association and their partners will continue to work with CARB staff to develop appropriate provisions that will protect the public without being overly burdensome on diesel motorhomes. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out and the ramifications it has on the RV industry as it relates to California.

Author Patrick Buchanan Avatar

Patrick Buchanan

All around RV enthusiast who has been RVing for 7 years and enjoys trips with his wife and little dogs in their 43-foot diesel pusher. 

28 thoughts on “California Looking To Restrict Out-Of-State Diesel Motorhomes

  1. Everyone wants to have no, or less pollution. But they all want it to come without affecting their lives. That is not possible. Just one more example of human stupidity.
    If all humans would stop breathing for 10 minutes both the pollution and stupidity problems will be solved.

  2. I live in California currently, and although I do believe there are WAY TOO MANY Semi’s on the road these days, and I don’t mind much about using electric powered lawn equipment, I’m thinking; “How is this going to affect California’s Farming Industry”? The farming industries rely on diesel fuel for most all of their equipment, and if not diesel, then it is gas. So… Where does that leave us on a Saturday night with our new high powered connections?! (J/k on that last sentence) Seriously though…We gotta eat!

  3. RVing was on my bucket list until I saw all the RVers jammed together, getting into fights, at a local state park and heard about RV parks double booking; disrespectful RVers dumping waste in parking lots and destroying Federal lands that are consequently banning boondocking. I figured CA would be one of the worst states to RV because of all that. If the new laws reduce the crowding and keep anti-environment RVers out of CA, it could become a great place to go camping.

    1. As a RVer I agree. I’m hoping the people complaining about being forced to maintain their vehicles so they can pass smog test do stay home. That way maybe I can find a place without having to make reservations a year in advance. Please pretty Please don’t go to CA!

  4. Maybe Tesla will build an RV. They’re already building currently ramping up semi’s. Just think, no generators, since the battery pack will hold enough electricity to power the refrigeration and lights.

    RV owners must be in the top five of whiners.

  5. Time to ban all of the diesel powered container ships from entering California waters. No more Ports needed in California, everything imported arrives via the East Coast.

    1. Ha ha ha. Well in that case nothing imported to the east coast can be tracked to stores past the Mississippi River. You want the east to get polluted so you won’t.

  6. Well that does it for me, was planning trip to california post-covid; now forget it; any state that bans RV’s are stupid in my book, their wildfires is cause of their polluted air, not diesel engines. I’m banning california and will bypass that former state of USA. NO tourists dollars for them.

    1. Don’t be silly. RVs aren’t being banned, and while, as you point out wildfires have been a major source of air pollution, internal combustion engines have as well. I hear your anger about this, and I too will be effected, but it isn’t as bad as you say–RVs are not being banned, for example–and in the long run saving our own asses from climate change is going to inconvenience and cost all of us. The question is do we pay with our wallets and inconveniences now or with our lives later? Why would we want to visit California anyway when it’s been burned to the ground due to our own short-sighted stupidity? The fires are worsened by climate change which is worsened by polluting vehicles. We have to think long term, beyond the ends of our noses.

    2. They aren’t banning RVs, they are banning diesel RVs that can’t pass the smog check. They are not changing things with gasoline RVs.

  7. Another ridiculous idea coming from California. How is this legal? I don’t live in CA, but my tax dollars sure do help pay for the roadways leading in and out of CA. What makes these wacko politicians think they have the right to dictate that everyone else outside of CA conform to these idotic demands? As a federal tax payer, I should have the right to travel unmolested through the state of CA and to enjoy the federally funded features that are within the state of CA (i.e., National Parks). CA has been trying to get funding anyway possible to help offset their social agenda. This crap needs to stop.

    1. You were probably a smoker who demanded your right to pollute the air in every build in the nation, forcing everyone to breathe your second hand smoke. We all know how that turned out.
      People bitch when the feds pass a law they don’t like, saying it should be up to the states under State’s Rights. Then they bitch when the states pass laws they don’t like and say it should be up to the feds.

  8. California mandated unleaded gasoline and emission controls like catalytic converters back in the 1970’s and the rest of the country soon followed. Diesel trucks have had to comply with higher emission standards as well in the last decade and the sky has not fallen yet.

    1. It has if you are one of the thousands who have have major problems with the emission controls on their diesel engines. While the scope of this article is RV, understand that the majority of propulsion for industry vehicles, forklift to over-the-road delivery trucks is diesel. My son-in-law is the maintenance guy for a company that has forklifts and trucks. Trying to keep them running is a nightmare and it ends up costing the consumer a lot more for products due to this.

    2. True, the sky has not fallen. Indeed it has gotten clearer as a result of California’s improving air quality regulations. I was upset to find that my new (2020) MBS Sprinter had to undergo a smog test before I could reregister it but this was a small price to pay so that I and my future grandkids could enjoy breathing cleaner air and scenic views when traveling in our RV.

  9. Just another reason not to visit California. Was once a fun state to visit, that California is long gone.

  10. Why would any diesel RV owner risk coming into California when they could be sited and fined if their RV does not pass or be turned away and told to leave the state. This will kill the RV industry and RV parks in California and cut into Tourism, restaurants, gas stations, etc… GOOD PLAN Californians!. Lets all ride bicycles around the state until they outlaw those as well.

  11. So a State burdened in debt and seeking a Fed bailout is actively discouraging visitors who would contribute millions annually to the state’s income and tax base. That is crazy.

      1. Well….not completely true!
        https://calmatters.org/commentary/dan-walters/2020/08/california-court-pension-debt-unfunded/

      2. Wrong, that so-called ‘surplus’ (lol) is the result of a gift to Newsom from his BFF Biden by printing fake money…

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