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Are 2-cycle outboard motors legal in California?

As a boater in California, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the laws and regulations regarding your equipment. One question that comes up frequently is whether or not 2-cycle outboard motors are legal in California.

To answer the question plain and simple: no, they are not. In fact, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has been phasing out the use of 2-cycle outboard motors since 1999. This is because these engines emit more pollutants than their 4-cycle counterparts, and California is committed to improving air quality.

CARB’s regulations require that all outboard motors manufactured after January 1, 1999, comply with the board’s emissions standards. This means that any new outboard purchased after that date will be a 4-cycle engine.

However, if you already have a 2-cycle engine, you don’t have to immediately replace it. You are allowed to continue using it as long as it remains in good working condition. However, if your engine breaks down or needs major repairs, you will not be able to replace it with another 2-cycle engine. Instead, you will need to upgrade to a 4-cycle engine.

If you’re thinking about purchasing a used boat with a 2-cycle outboard motor, it’s important to be aware of this regulation. While you might be able to initially use the boat with its current engine, you will not be able to replace the engine with another 2-cycle engine if it breaks down.

It’s important to note that these regulations only apply to outboard motors. If you have an inboard engine or a Personal Watercraft (PWC), you can still use a 2-cycle engine. However, be aware that your engine must be in good working order and should emit as few pollutants as possible.

2-cycle outboard motors are not legal in California. If you’re thinking about purchasing a boat or replacing an engine, you will need to choose a 4-cycle engine that complies with CARB’s emissions standards. By complying with these regulations, you’ll not only be following the law, but you’ll also be doing your part to protect California’s air quality.

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