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Old 04-07-2018, 11:07 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Busses not legal in California?

So I was emailing back and forth with a great bus conversion company to start our project. They have an almost shorty on hand that would be ideal for our conversion and we were real close to starting the process.

When I stumbled across this bit of information from the California DMV

Basically, since we're based in California and our conversion company is out of state, the bus (and probably most busses outside CA) cannot be registered here. Complete dealbreaker for most busses outside of CA, which leaves me with looking for a bus in CA only.

Anyone have any advice on this? Are there ways around it? Does anyone know good places in CA to shop for busses (I know the usual auction sites, but not much there, most I found were on Craigslist and Ebay, some on Facebook marketplace.)

Does anyone know how I can check if a bus is a 49 state (not legal in CA) or a 50 state vehicle? Would need a simple way for me or potential sellers to check. Otherwise I can't even search in nearby states...

Thanks folks!
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Old 04-07-2018, 11:34 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisHieronimus View Post
So I was emailing back and forth with a great bus conversion company to start our project. They have an almost shorty on hand that would be ideal for our conversion and we were real close to starting the process.

When I stumbled across this bit of information from the California DMV

Basically, since we're based in California and our conversion company is out of state, the bus (and probably most busses outside CA) cannot be registered here. Complete dealbreaker for most busses outside of CA, which leaves me with looking for a bus in CA only.

Anyone have any advice on this? Are there ways around it? Does anyone know good places in CA to shop for busses (I know the usual auction sites, but not much there, most I found were on Craigslist and Ebay, some on Facebook marketplace.)

Does anyone know how I can check if a bus is a 49 state (not legal in CA) or a 50 state vehicle? Would need a simple way for me or potential sellers to check. Otherwise I can't even search in nearby states...

Thanks folks!
I don't understand your problem.

Your conversion will be second-hand with more than 7500 miles on it, so you shouldn't have a problem.

The biggest issue with buses in California is that ALL commercial vehicles have to meet current emissions standards. This is why all of the Crowns are being sold. They can no longer be used as school buses in CA.

However, they can be used as private vehicles in that state.
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Old 04-08-2018, 12:30 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Twigg View Post
I don't understand your problem.

Your conversion will be second-hand with more than 7500 miles on it, so you shouldn't have a problem.

The biggest issue with buses in California is that ALL commercial vehicles have to meet current emissions standards. This is why all of the Crowns are being sold. They can no longer be used as school buses in CA.

However, they can be used as private vehicles in that state.
I really missed that part. Thanks for pointing it out. Still concerns me, I don't wanna be months and thousands into it and then find out I can't register it here.
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Old 04-08-2018, 07:23 AM   #4
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I wouldn’t worry

It clearly doesn’t apply
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Old 04-08-2018, 10:52 AM   #5
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I purchased a bluebird TC2000 diesel outside of CA and registered it 2 days later as a Motorhome, and it was a little scary for a bit....

I had done all my homework and this is what I found out.

- must meet CA emission standards for busses 1998-present*
- must pass smog and have DPF 1998-present*
- basic permanent interior modification to MH(water, stove, sleeping, toilet)
- no school bus markings or lights

I found an Arizona bus, 1997 BB as I did not want to spend thousands on emissions modifications or chance it on a newer model. In addition 1997 and older diesels never require smog! So I bought my perfect bus(is was not cheap) and after driving it home to the Bay Area went to the DMV and almost had a heart attack.... note the * in my findings. The caviot here is that the engine must have been produced to meet CA emissions ORIGINALLY and have a little plate riveted to it saying so. So if your buy a 1997 or older you have to physically locate this plate on the engine to prove that it met the emissions standards in 1997....took 20min of panic but I did find it. Otherwise I would have to put all the emissions crap on at significant expense.

So other than that it was not a problem, the bigger headache was insurance as I got a progressive policy the day I left to pick it up, fully know they would cancel it soon after. But I had the proof of insurance for registration as a motor home and that’s all that mattered.

Hope that helps ease your thoughts. Also if you get out of state you will need a one way use permit to move the bus into CA without hassle from the cops. It’s easy and made me feel a little more at ease driving with no plates.

Best of luck!
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Old 04-08-2018, 10:54 AM   #6
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That's only for NEW vehicles with less than 7500 miles. There are 1000's of vehicles brought into Calif. and registered with no issues. Most vehicles are CARB certified.
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Old 04-08-2018, 11:55 AM   #7
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I stand by my earlier statement that the DMV requires 1997 and newer vehicles to meet emission(and smog) standards for diesels. If you bring it in as a motorhome your probably fine, but if it’s registered as a bus now you will be asked to find the plate as proof prior to changing it to motorhome. And my own choice was to go 1997 and older to not trigger the cost of meeting smog/particulate requirements. Any diesel vehicle registered outside CA at any mileage will trigger this.

On a side note you will notice a lot of CA government bus auctions are for buses that have had their frames cut and 3in holes drilled into the engine blocks. This is to insure they do not go back on CA roads....and some of them are really nice...
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Old 04-08-2018, 02:01 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Whitestripes View Post
I stand by my earlier statement that the DMV requires 1997 and newer vehicles to meet emission(and smog) standards for diesels. If you bring it in as a motorhome your probably fine, but if it’s registered as a bus now you will be asked to find the plate as proof prior to changing it to motorhome. And my own choice was to go 1997 and older to not trigger the cost of meeting smog/particulate requirements. Any diesel vehicle registered outside CA at any mileage will trigger this.

On a side note you will notice a lot of CA government bus auctions are for buses that have had their frames cut and 3in holes drilled into the engine blocks. This is to insure they do not go back on CA roads....and some of them are really nice...
That is not why they have the frames and engines disabled.

That action is part of an EPA rebate incentive to remove older diesels (but not too old), and has nothing to do with California.
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Old 04-08-2018, 06:03 PM   #9
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California = beautiful place .......a nice place to drive through and visit.........many wonderful folks there......... fantastic forests, mountains, deserts, sea coasts.....

A real shame legislators have ruined it with an avalanche of goofy laws designed to "protect" it's inhabitants.

I'll leave it at that.
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Old 04-08-2018, 06:40 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by CH777 View Post
California = beautiful place .......a nice place to drive through and visit.........many wonderful folks there......... fantastic forests, mountains, deserts, sea coasts.....

A real shame legislators have ruined it with an avalanche of goofy laws designed to "protect" it's inhabitants.

I'll leave it at that.
"protect" it's "illegal inhabitants". I'm getting to the point where I'm not so proud to be a native Californian.
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Old 04-08-2018, 11:21 PM   #11
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whitestripes View Post
I purchased a bluebird TC2000 diesel outside of CA and registered it 2 days later as a Motorhome, and it was a little scary for a bit....

I had done all my homework and this is what I found out.

- must meet CA emission standards for busses 1998-present*
- must pass smog and have DPF 1998-present*
- basic permanent interior modification to MH(water, stove, sleeping, toilet)
- no school bus markings or lights

I found an Arizona bus, 1997 BB as I did not want to spend thousands on emissions modifications or chance it on a newer model. In addition 1997 and older diesels never require smog! So I bought my perfect bus(is was not cheap) and after driving it home to the Bay Area went to the DMV and almost had a heart attack.... note the * in my findings. The caviot here is that the engine must have been produced to meet CA emissions ORIGINALLY and have a little plate riveted to it saying so. So if your buy a 1997 or older you have to physically locate this plate on the engine to prove that it met the emissions standards in 1997....took 20min of panic but I did find it. Otherwise I would have to put all the emissions crap on at significant expense.

So other than that it was not a problem, the bigger headache was insurance as I got a progressive policy the day I left to pick it up, fully know they would cancel it soon after. But I had the proof of insurance for registration as a motor home and that’s all that mattered.

Hope that helps ease your thoughts. Also if you get out of state you will need a one way use permit to move the bus into CA without hassle from the cops. It’s easy and made me feel a little more at ease driving with no plates.

Best of luck!
Thanks! Before it gets all political in here, did I get this right:

- You were required to comply with the emission standards mentioned in the DMV link above even though it's a second hand vehicle with more than 7.500 miles on it?
- There's no Smog needed for any vehicle '97 or older?
- Auctions are selling busses with disabled motors? Why would anyone buy that?
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Old 04-08-2018, 11:27 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by ChrisHieronimus View Post
- Auctions are selling busses with disabled motors? Why would anyone buy that?
Scrap/salvage is all they would be good for. That pretty much narrows it down to local tow truck operators.
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Old 04-09-2018, 10:16 AM   #13
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AZ all the way

AZ no problem even if you live in CA. Just Reg mine.
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Old 04-09-2018, 02:53 PM   #14
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Thank you everyone. I'm not taking any risks. People have had bad experiences in this situation, so I'm sticking with busses already in CA.
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Old 04-10-2018, 01:32 AM   #15
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1997 and older diesels do not require smog. ANY Diesel engine that has never been registered in CA or if it’s from out of state requires a CA compliance engine plate to be registered. Basically make sure that it has it on the engine if it’s not currently registered in CA. And to be fair, most engines in school busses have this plate as the engine was sold here as well. It’s just a gotcha they can stick you with if it’s missing.
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