Many of you are going to be upset about this month’s cover story on the widespread tampering of emissions controls. I get it.
You’re not happy with the reliability of 2007 and newer model year tractors with diesel particulate filters (DPFs) and/or selective catalytic reduction (SCR). These trucks have had their issues, downtime has been a major concern and until SCR came along in 2010 and reversed the trend, they were consuming more fuel than older tractors.
You’re frustrated with the EPA, which mandated these emissions-reducing technologies and also at the manufacturers who foisted them onto the market without first working out all the bugs. I get all that. You’ve probably heard of shops willing to delete the DPF, EGR or both – with the promise of better fuel economy and less downtime. You may even have been tempted.
As on-road editor Harry Rudolfs writes in his investigative report beginning on pg. 36, there are shop owners out there promising to “take you back to the good ol’ days.” With no oversight and a complete absence of enforcement, this underground industry has flourished, with some shops admitting to removing the emissions controls and then reprogramming the ECU on as many as 20 trucks a day at a cost of thousands of dollars per truck. The shops are making truckloads of money and the customers are in many cases happy with the service.
So, why’d we shed light on this issue? For starters, it’s our role to ensure our readers have the knowledge they need to make informed choices, and there’s an abundance of misinformation about the legality of having DPF or EGR Delete services performed on your truck. Even the shop owners Rudolfs spoke to had varying interpretations of the rules, with some admitting it was illegal and others confessing to nothing more than “bending the rules.”
We felt truck operators need to know about some of the implications of having this work done to their trucks. It obviously voids any remaining engine warranty, but it also could complicate future repairs, could result in serious charges or the confiscation of the vehicle plates and if performed poorly, the job could lead to the destruction of the emissions system without the promised benefits.
What’s more, we felt truckers who are in the market for pre-owned trucks should be aware of just how widespread this practice has become, so that they can look for signs of tampering when purchasing used trucks.
But perhaps most importantly, we feel shops that are performing this work, and truckers who are seeking their services, should know that the complete lack of enforcement is, by all accounts, about to come to an end. As Canadian Trucking Alliance chief David Bradley wrote in his column in last month’s issue, the feds and provinces have finally come to an agreement that compliance with clean diesel regs falls under provincial jurisdiction.
The provinces have indicated they are planning to begin looking for scofflaw truckers who are defeating the emissions systems on their trucks and the shops that are abetting them. All indications are that a crackdown is imminent – though, with government, nothing is for certain.
At the end of the day, it’s your truck, and you decide what to do with it. But you can’t say we didn’t warn ya.