November 22, 2023

The Myths & Cold Truths About Heavy-Duty Truck Emission Deletes & Tunes

Truck with ECM tuning

Nowadays, every truck that’s built comes with a wide assortment of emissions control systems. These systems generally include an EGR assembly, a DPF, a DOC, and an SCR catalyst. Each of these components is responsible for lessening your heavy-duty truck’s impact on the atmosphere. However, since they add an extra layer of complexity to heavy-duty trucks, many choose to remove them entirely to avoid extra repairs and maintenance. We’re here to tell you that’s not a great idea. Today we’ll be discussing some myths and cold truths surrounding the removal of emissions control systems.  

Myth: Trucks With No Emissions Control Systems Are Easier to Work On

Yes, removing emissions control systems will remove a layer of complexity that, in theory, increases your maintenance and repair costs. However, by going down this route, you’re opening yourself up to an entire series of other problems that will need to be solved. First of all, you’ll need to find a mechanic that’s willing to perform the removal, as well as tune your ECU to compensate for the change. Finding a reputable mechanic to perform this job is going to be quite difficult, as it’s not entirely legal in some areas. Plus, those who do accept these jobs will not provide you with a tune as high quality as your original factory tune, for this deletion was never accounted for when the engine was designed. 

So what happens if your engine isn’t tuned well? Engine tunes essentially dictate how your engine is supposed to behave. How much fuel is released, how much air enters your combustion chamber, how hot your glow plugs get, and other various parameters are all accounted for. If this isn’t properly configured, your engine may be at a higher risk of catastrophic failure. To summarize, an unrefined tune is never recommended!

Myth: Only California Is Concerned About Emissions 

The importance of emissions control systems on heavy-duty trucks is quickly becoming an issue of national concern. Although many believe that California is the only state concerned about heavy-duty vehicle emissions, the reality is that many states are following suit. Texas, Minnesota, and New York are all starting to follow suit. Many expect stronger emissions control system laws to be implemented at a Federal level in the near future. 

Myth: The EPA Doesn't Target Small Businesses

Many assume that they won’t be targeted by the EPA if they’re not a large organization. After all, how will you come across their radar if you’re just a small business or individual? Well, it’s actually quite easy. All it takes is one report by an employee or service provider to land you in hot water. The EPA can impose civil penalties of up to $7,500 per day for minor violations and up to $37,500 for serious ones, so the fines may rapidly mount up.

Myth: No EPA Police Exist

This is accurate in theory. However, any state or local government may upload federal emission legislation. The IRS can collect taxes and enforce laws from an office building hundreds of miles away, so to assert there is no IRS police is fiction. The degree of testing and enforcement will differ according to your State and County. 

Myth: DPF Removal or Tuning is Legal 

There is no getting around that it is completely prohibited to tamper with or change your truck's emission system. It is Federal law, not State or municipal law (although both may exist). Customers often respond with "it's for off-highway usage only" or "it's for tractor pulls" when we bring this up. They believe that they can get away with breaking any rules with this, but that is far from the truth. 

Yes, it is allowed to have your car's emission system removed, but only if you get the manufacturer to recertify your vehicle and provide a new emission label and certification. You cannot just sign a piece of paper and declare that your engine has been recertified, and you would have to spend money on having the original equipment maker recertify your engine. 

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, removing emissions control systems is a lot more work than it seems. Sure, you’re removing a layer of complexity, but between faulty tunes and the illegality of doing this, working on your truck and using it on the open road gets a lot more complex. Not only is removing these emissions control systems bad for the environment, but it’s simply not worth it even if it wasn’t.