Is It Illegal To Delete A Diesel Truck?

To put it clearly, any diesel pickup’s emissions equipment should not be removed. It is a federal criminal to remove any factory-installed emissions equipment, regardless of local or state testing regulations. The factory warranty on the vehicle is also void when emissions equipment is removed. Before you say anything, there is no way to prevent a dealer from discovering that emissions equipment has been removed. Even if the hard parts are replaced, the ECM will still show signs of adjustment.

Is deleting diesels illegal?

Clients who wish to perform emission deletes on their trucks send us emails, phone calls, and live chats every day. All of these customers have the same issue: their automobiles require frequent, expensive maintenance, and they are fed up with it. I truly sympathize with them; many of them have had traumatic situations and are simply searching for a way out. However, before we delve too far into the weeds, there are a few fallacies that we commonly encounter.

Myth #1 – Deleting or Tuning a Truck is Legal

There is no way around it; tampering with or modifying your truck’s emission system in any manner is completely unlawful. It is not a state or local law (though such do exist), but rather a federal law. The first thing clients remark when we discuss it is that “it’s only for off-highway use” or “it’s for tractor pulls.” They believe that by doing so, they will be able to avoid any laws, but this is far from the case.

Yes, your emission system can be lawfully removed from your vehicle, but it will require recertification by the manufacturer and the issuance of a new emission label and certification. You can’t just sign a piece of paper and declare that your engine has been recertified. You’d have to pay to have your engine re-certified by the original equipment manufacturer, which is a costly process.

Myth #2 – There are no EPA Police

This is technically correct. A federal emission law, on the other hand, can be uploaded by any state or municipal government. This misconception is similar to someone declaring, “There are no IRS cops,” despite the fact that the IRS can collect and enforce laws from a building thousands of miles away. The extent of testing and enforcement will differ depending on your state and county.

Myth #3 – The EPA doesn’t go after the little guys

Another prevalent misunderstanding among clients is that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not target small enterprises. For your convenience, the EPA maintains a list of every single resolution filed against the Clean Air Act for cars, organized by year. Cases range from tuning equipment providers being taxed over $4 million to a single owner doing a DPF delete on a single car.

If you think you’re “too small” to be noticed or cared about, rest assured that you’re wrong. It only takes one employee or service provider to report the problem, and you’ll be in serious trouble in no time. If the removal/tuning has been done frequently or on a wide scale, the cases might be both civil and criminal.

The fines can quickly mount, as the EPA has the authority to levy civil penalties of up to $7,500 per day for major violations and $37,500 per day for minor violations.

Myth #4 – Only California Cares about Emissions

We get calls from county and state governments asking for a software solution to detect pollution manipulation on commercial trucks on a regular basis. We don’t have a response yet, but I can assure you that someone is working on one right now. There is a sizable demand for a device like this. The reason for this is that the fines are so high that a government agency might pay tens of thousands of dollars each month for that software and still make a profit.

California isn’t the only state with this problem. Several counties in Texas already require emission testing on commercial trucks, and states like Minnesota, as well as New York, are following suit. They’ll find a means to collect fines if there’s money to be made!

Myth #5 – Deleting my emissions will solve all my problems

This isn’t even close to being accurate. Your first task will be to find a competent “tuner” to assist you, and based on our experience, there are more incompetent ones on the market than good ones. To be honest, the truly outstanding tuners aren’t promoting because they know what they’re doing. In terms of technical expertise and capacity, the ones that do advertise are often at the bottom of the totem pole. They frequently clone one ECM software to another without thoroughly inspecting the intricacies.

So, what exactly does this imply? It indicates that if your engine is tuned by a bad tuner, you will have serious issues. Poor engine performance to your engine flinging a rod through the block are all possibilities. Inexperienced tuners, for example, will often remove the EGR on the PACCAR MX engine. The EGR, on the other hand, cools the combustion chamber. With the EGR removed, your head will shatter, and you’ll be dealing with a far worse problem. Modern engines are built to work in harmony with all of their components, and changing one component might lead to more serious issues. If you think it’s just MX engines, consider this Facebook user who had an ISX removed:

Aside from these urban legends, there are a few more things to consider.

Finding a Shop to Help You

You’ll have a hard time finding a franchised dealership to help you once you’ve removed your emissions. They don’t want to take on the risk of working on decommissioned emission equipment, and they can’t guarantee the work. That means you’ll have to find a qualified independent facility willing to work with you on your own. Even if the engine problem you’re having has nothing to do with your tune or delete, as most of you know, seeing them on the open road can be challenging at best.

Reselling Your Truck

If you ever consider selling or trading in your truck, you will almost certainly run into problems. If you sell it with parts removed, the individual who buys it or takes it in trade will have a legal case against you. You made an unlawful change without informing the customer, and now you’re facing legal (and financial) consequences. You will very certainly have to pay to restore all deleted components to their original configuration. Even taking your truck to an auction doesn’t exempt you from liability, as one forum user pointed out. Law enforcement frequently attends public auctions to guarantee that no illegal activities are taking place. Note:


There are two basic approaches for emission adjustment, according to the “economy.” The first option is to save money by learning to do it yourself. Because it requires downloading ECM information to your laptop/computer, updating the software, then pushing it back, you should have a foundation in computer science and how diesel engines work if you go this route. The actual “tuners,” who are subject matter experts, do exactly that.

These folks, on the other hand, are often hard to discover and are aware of the risks indicated above. They gain money in a different way, by selling the “tunes” to repair shops. Do you remember the guy who advertised on Facebook and Craigslist that he would do a tune for $1,000? That individual has no idea what he’s doing. He’s buying tuning files from real specialists, marking them up, uploading them to your ECM, and then walking away from you for good.

That’s all we know about eliminating and optimizing your engine. Our recommendation is to avoid it and instead work with a local, experienced repair shop that has access to necessary diagnostic instruments and repair information. You’ll be alright if your engine is well maintained and you can locate a qualified repair facility that can effectively troubleshoot emission difficulties. If you can’t find one, we recommend taking advantage of our hands-on aftertreatment diagnostics training class.

Is deleting a diesel a felony?

Is It Illegal To Remove A Diesel? Tampering with, removing, or purposely weakening the DPF system in a truck is prohibited, according to Section 203 of the Clean Air Act. To put it another way, you could face fines for both the method and the modification.

Has anyone been fined for DPF Delete?

So, what about the $22,000 question: is it legal, and can you get penalized for erasing the DPF? In a nutshell, yes, you can be penalized, and no, it isn’t legal. We spoke with the NSW Environmental Protection Agency, who confirmed that it is unlawful (because you’re tampering with a car’s pollution control system), and that the corresponding on-the-spot fine for driving a vehicle with a DPF delete is $300. However, an individual’s maximum court-imposed sentence is $22,000!

What happens if you get caught with a deleted diesel?

It varies depending on the circumstances, but it might range from a few thousand dollars to millions of dollars. A consumer truck owner convicted of this infraction, for example, will be fined at least $2500 and up to $45,268 per truck. A fine of hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions of dollars could be imposed on a larger corporation. **

Civil fines for non-compliant vehicles or engines are up to $45,268 per day, $4,527 each tampering event or sale of the defeat device, and $45,268 per day for reporting and recordkeeping violations.

If you’ve been wondering what the EPA fine is for removing your DPF filter, it’s likely that you’ve been suffering decreased performance and higher fuel usage as a result of your DPF.

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks of having a DPF filter, as well as the potential penalty for not having one.

Can a dealership sell a deleted truck?

A dealer is not allowed to sell a deleted automobile under federal law. It’s better to put it back on so they don’t refuse the transaction or value drops by up to $6k because it was removed.

Is DEF delete illegal?

It’s not difficult to find someone who can modify or remove the Diesel Exhaust Fluid (or DEF) emissions systems on your agricultural equipment if you look hard enough. Given the openness with which this service is provided, a farmer could be forgiven for thinking DEF alterations are permitted.

They aren’t. The EPA Clean Air Act forbids anybody from removing or rendering inoperable an emission control device on a motor vehicle in the United States. Under a different name, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, Canada has essentially the same statute.

Even though it is forbidden, DEF tampering occurs. What is causing this, and what are the potential consequences?

Early DEF systems, according to Kevin Rossler, Sales Manager for Markusson New Holland Ag in Regina, could be problematic.

“There were early concerns in agricultural equipment as it developed into Tier-Four emissions or DEF systems,” explains Rossler. “An error code from a sensor failing at seeding time could cause you to lose power, which is quite inconvenient. As a result, several operators wanted to get rid of their DEF systems or purchase DEF delete kits to avoid having to utilize them.”

Interfering with a DEF system can get you in trouble with the law, but that’s not the only danger. It will also nullify the manufacturer’s warranty on the equipment. When equipment with tampered DEF arrives at a dealership as a trade-in, it must be returned to its original DEF settings before it can be resold. That’s $5,000 to $7,000, according to Rossler’s experience.

He advises equipment owners to let go of any remaining misconceptions regarding DEF, stating that current versions of the technology work significantly more consistently. DEF systems are unlikely to cause problems in the field, but they’re excellent at what they’re supposed to do: regulate emissions from agricultural equipment and help farming keep its good environmental reputation.

“Early DEF systems are nothing like what we have now,” says Larry Hertz, WEDA’s Regional Vice-President for Canada. “Today, you could place your face right close to the exhaust pipe and nothing would come out. DEF is required by legislation in order to maintain air quality. That’s all the more incentive to leave your DEF alone and let it do its thing.”

Why are deleted trucks illegal?

When the Environmental Protection Agency started looking into Freedom Performance, LLC, they didn’t have to dig far to find evidence that the company was breaking the Clean Air Act. The Florida auto parts company allegedly publicized infractions on its website, according to legal records.

One ad selling a kit to remove federally mandated pollution controls from diesel trucks claimed, “The road to hell is often paved with good intentions.” It discovered an emissions control system that is “absolutely good in intent,” but “in practice, it is putting your engine through hell… The best remedy is deletion.”

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Freedom Performance advertised defeat devices, which are hardware and software that bypass or disable pollution controls. The Clean Air Act makes it illegal to interfere with these measures, and violators face steep penalties. Many vehicle owners, however, prefer defeat devices, often known as “delete devices.”

Delete kits are advertised as increasing mileage and extending the life of expensive components, saving clients hundreds of dollars. As repair shops, internet vendors, and manufacturers feed and build consumer demand, a lucrative cottage economy manufacturing defeat devices has exploded across the United States in recent years.

Since 2009, the EPA believes that over 500,000 diesel pickup trucks have been “removed.” According to the EPA, these unlawfully changed vehicles released hundreds of thousands of tons of extra nitrogen oxide, which is the equivalent of putting nine million more trucks to the road. Diesel emissions, according to public health experts, lead to greater levels of fine particulate matter and other airborne pollutants, which have been linked to an increased risk of cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and neurological illnesses.

The EPA has intensified its campaign in recent years, concluding more than 60 cases against companies who manufacture or distribute defeat devices since 2017. The consequences can be severe: The government stated in February that Freedom Performance will pay more than $7 million to settle thousands of infractions. Geoffrey Kemper, the company’s managing member, did not reply to calls for comment.

For starters, defeat devices are widely available in stores and online, even on major sites such as eBay. As a result, several public health advocates have filed a lawsuit under the Clean Air Act. Body shops featured on the popular Discovery Channel show “Diesel Brothers,” where some mechanics altered large diesel trucks with names like BroDozer and Truck Norris, have been targeted. Discovery’s spokesperson declined to comment.

The defeat device rule is being enforced, and body shops and retailers are complaining that it is confusing and oppressive. The auto industry is supporting a measure in Congress written by the “Motorsports Caucus” that purports to preserve motorists’ right to transform a highway vehicle into a racing car, while opponents argue it will impede EPA enforcement of clean air regulations.

Flipping a switch

According to the EPA, turning off the pollution controls in a car used to be as simple as flipping a switch. Automakers, on the other hand, introduced increasingly sophisticated equipment to decrease pollutants as the government enforced stricter emissions rules.

Nowadays, defeat devices are available in a variety of shapes and sizes “delete kits” include of hardware and software that must be used together. A straight pipe—a metal tube that can be added in a vehicle’s exhaust system to replace equipment like the diesel particulate filter—is one of the most popular items.

Plug-in “tuners” install software known as “tunes” that adjust how a vehicle’s computer manages emission levels. Physical devices, such as sensors, can be put in the engine or exhaust system of a vehicle “Delete pipes” are hollow tubes that bypass or replace sensitive filtering systems.

Though aftermarket defeat devices have always been unlawful, the EPA greatly increased enforcement around the time of the Volkswagen disaster, the most well-known car industry fraud of the twenty-first century.

The California Air Resources Board and West Virginia University researchers determined in 2013 and 2014 that the German automaker had deployed a defeat mechanism across its entire fleet of diesel-engine passenger vehicles. It was able to recognize when the automobiles were being tested and reduce emissions to meet legal norms.

The automobiles, on the other hand, released up to 40 times more nitrogen oxides—reactive, dangerous gases—on the road than during the experiments. Nearly 600,000 of these vehicles were sold or were on the market in the United States, while the corporation ultimately confessed that it had produced approximately 11 million worldwide.

It was the first time the EPA decided to pursue a criminal action rather than a civil suit for a defeat device violation. The EPA had previously pursued similar infractions by seven major makers of big rig diesel engines, including Caterpillar and Mack Trucks, in 1998. In the end, the manufacturers agreed to pay a total of $1 billion in fines and expenditures in constructing cleaner engines and decreasing nitrogen oxide pollution without admitting guilt.

Concerted effort

Volkswagen’s case “The company made a very, very determined effort to evade the law,” said John Cruden, then-assistant Attorney General for the Environment and main negotiator on the Volkswagen case.

The outcome was a court settlement worth more than $20 billion in the United States alone, including criminal and civil penalties as well as investments in emission reduction initiatives around the country. In June 2020, a federal appeals court declared that local governments in the United States could sue Volkswagen for breaking local environmental regulations, potentially opening them up to a slew of new claims.

“Only a few corporations would be able to survive that litigation,” Cruden added, “so it clearly has an outstanding deterrent effect.”

The EPA began cracking down on other automakers shortly after the Volkswagen breaches were revealed. Mercedes-Benz parent corporation Daimler settled with the EPA, the Air Resources Board, and the Justice Department, among other agencies, for $1.5 billion in August 2020, following a four-year investigation.

Smaller players in the aftermarket parts business, which manufactures and installs defeat devices once vehicles are on the road, have felt the effects. They range from tiny garages tampering with controls on a few dozen semis to subsidiaries of major corporations like Polaris Inc.

“It’s not unusual for the government to focus more on the rest of the industry when it discovers misconduct in one part of the industry,” said David Uhlmann, a University of Michigan law professor and former head of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes unit who left before the Volkswagen case.

According to David Cooke, senior vehicle analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, the number of vehicles targeted for aftermarket tampering is not as large as it was in the Volkswagen incident, but the emissions from any one vehicle, particularly pickups, can be significantly worse.

Two tips a day

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed in 2015 that a Utah company had agreed to pay a $1 million fine for manufacturing and distributing tens of thousands of defeat devices. Operators of heavy-duty diesel trucks were H&S’s clientele. The EPA determined that the H&S tuners produced an additional 71,669 tons of nitrogen oxides, according to the consent agreement. The EPA stated that H&S had violated the Clean Air Act over 114,000 times, one violation for each defeat device it sold.

The EPA targeted companies that had produced hundreds of thousands of defeat devices over the next five years. According to the EPA, it receives two tips every day on companies selling defeat devices on average.

In September 2018, the agency reached a settlement with Derive Systems, a Florida company that allegedly fabricated and marketed 363,000 parts.

The EPA received an anonymous information in July 2015 that a Florida company named Punch It Performance and Tuning was producing and distributing diesel truck defeat devices, such as straight pipes and tunes. The EPA ruled that Punch It and its president, Paul Schimmack, had violated the Clean Air Act thousands of times after reviewing the company’s sales records.

Schimmack sought to get around the EPA for years by liquidating companies and starting new ones to keep selling defeat devices. Punch is the subject of a complaint. It demonstrated how wealthy the industry can be. Schimmack had multiple residences and a yacht registered to his various firms, according to the EPA. Schimmack agreed to pay a $850,000 civil penalty in 2019. In response to a request for comment, he did not answer.

Many businesses continue to operate with impunity despite these moves. The sheer number of tuners and straight pipes that appear to be publicly offered on e-commerce sites such as eBay and by users on Facebook’s Marketplace platform is the most compelling proof.

In a deposition in a court action, David Sparks, a mechanic featured on the “Diesel Brothers” show, said, “All you have to do is Google DPF tuner online and you’ll have a hundred places you can purchase it today.”

An open boast

While most websites do not explicitly state that their products circumvent emissions controls, eBay sellers do “Despite an eBay regulation prohibiting the sale of defeat devices, there are “delete kits” that make this claim. FairWarning was notified by an eBay representative that the firm will remove the illegal listings, but a search for “Nearly five weeks later, a search for “delete kits” brought up a slew of items for sale.

There is at least one delete kit listing on Facebook’s Marketplace site that is still active days after FairWarning alerted the company to the unlawful product for sale. According to a Facebook representative, Marketplace buyers and sellers bear the legal burden, and Facebook only examines listings when asked to by authorities or law enforcement.

Manufacturers of the devices put the EPA to the test—sometimes blatantly. According to a corporate blog post, seven months after the EPA lawsuit against Derive Systems, the company participated in a conference in Las Vegas where finalists brainstormed how to hack automobile computers to improve performance.

Disappointed by the EPA’s limited successes, Utah public health advocates have devised a new technique to eradicate defeat devices.

The Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment) launched the first Clean Air Act citizen complaint against corporations marketing defeat devices in 2017. Private persons can launch lawsuits to enforce emissions regulations under the law. The body shops featured on the show were their targets “We’re the Diesel Brothers.”

These companies have been producing videos featuring powerful vehicles for years. A huge vehicle blacked out a Prius with dense smoke in a video shot in 2013, which was later utilized as a court exhibit.

Many diesel trucks failed emissions testing owing to deliberate tampering with pollutant controls, according to county health department data, and a deleted diesel average produced 36 times more nitrogen oxides than the EPA allows.

The suit’s attorney, Reed Zars, just had to turn to Instagram and Facebook to uncover potential violations by some of the businesses promoted on the platform “We’re the Diesel Brothers.”


Zars purchased one of their pickups and had it tested by an EPA-certified facility in Colorado. The modified truck released 30 to 40 times the legal limit for several contaminants, according to the lab.

“Can you image piping a power plant straight?” Zars remarked. “These smaller power plants were being straight-piped.”

One of the defendants in the complaint, David Sparks, a body shop owner featured on “Diesel Brothers,” did not reply to calls for comment.

A court decided in favor of the physicians’ association in March, imposing fines and penalties totaling over $850,000 and prohibiting the defendants from selling defeat devices.

TAP Worldwide, an aftermarket parts firm with dozens of locations across the United States, was the focus of the Utah advocacy group in September. TAP is a Polaris Inc. subsidiary.

TAP has been accused of regularly violating the Clean Air Act by selling and installing defeat devices, according to the lawsuit. TAP did not reply to demands for comment, despite the fact that it has urged the court to dismiss the lawsuit.

An EPA case against a tiny body shop exemplifies what critics of the crackdown perceive as perplexing standards and overzealous enforcement.

The EPA penalized Lead Foot Diesel Performance, LLC of Georgia $17,348 earlier this year for selling 18 defeat devices. According to Vinny Hines, a sales manager for Lead Foot, the EPA inspector informed him that the company was being scrutinized because its name included the word “performance.”

When EPA inspectors showed up to Hines’ shop in August 2019, the self-described “stupid redneck” stated he didn’t think he had anything to worry about. He kept the store clean and disposed of leftover oil, coolant, and other chemical waste efficiently. When the inspectors claimed they were looking for defeat devices, he was taken aback. Inspectors combed through Hines’ invoices until they discovered sales of 18 defeat devices dating back five years, he said.

Deeply embarrassing

It was humiliating and disappointing for Hines to be labeled a lawbreaker after working in the diesel sector for 15 years without incident.

Inspectors from the Environmental Protection Agency offered him materials on how to comply with the law, but he claimed he needed a lawyer to explain how it worked. “One thing I’ve learned is that you can’t be compliant with the EPA,” Hines explained. “They’re not leaving without at least a $1 if they come in to inspect.”

Aftermarket parts manufacturers and installers, as well as car owners, say they must follow a complicated set of rules.

For example, in EPA compliance scenarios, a repairman who notices that someone has tampered with a car’s emissions controls must correct it or face fines, even though the repairman and the car owner had nothing to do with the defeat device’s installation.

It’s simple to break such strict guidelines without even realizing it, they claim. Officials and campaigners, on the other hand, dismiss the notion that infractions are accidental.

“The Union of Concerned Scientists’ Cooke stated, “They know what they’re doing is illegal.” “And they’re doing it for automobiles that then have to share the road with us.”

According to Stanley Young, a spokesman for the California Air Resources Board, the industry in California is well aware of state laws that are more strict than the EPA’s.

On the down-low

“By now, everyone knows how tight California is,” Young said. “Anyone who tries to sell unauthorized aftermarket components in California knows they’re doing it illegally and have to do it on the down-low.”

Since fall 2019, the EPA has delivered more than two dozen presentations to various industry groups, according to the EPA. Since 2008, it has also made presentations at the Specialty Equipment Market Association’s annual event, the premier trade association for aftermarket and racing parts.

However, industry actors and their congressional supporters continue to propagate the notion that the EPA is targeting people who modify their automobiles only for racing.

Members of Congress known as the Motorsports Caucus filed a measure in October 2019 to safeguard motorists’ right to modify their automobiles into racing cars, which is the latest version of legislation that has failed in the past.

According to public records, the Specialty Equipment Market Association has pressured Congress for years to adopt a measure like this, describing it as a logical response to EPA overreach.

In an email, the EPA claimed that it has no intention of prosecuting people who make, sell, or install modifications that convert street-legal automobiles into race cars that can only be driven on a track. Modifying emissions controls on vehicles that will be utilized on streets and highways, according to the EPA, is banned.

Opponents of the law fear it will make enforcement more difficult rather than defining the EPA’s jurisdiction. The Congressional Budget Office predicted in a prior version of the bill that it would require the EPA to shift its focus from producers and sellers to vehicle users.

Regulators are creating new approaches to catch suspected defeat device infractions at all levels in the wake of the Volkswagen crisis.

The California Air Resources Board, for example, is experimenting with ways to detect trucks that are exceeding pollution restrictions while on the road, according to Young.

High-tech solutions have the potential to be an effective deterrent. However, many businesses are still eager to put the law to the test for the time being. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported on July 23 that a firm in Irvine, California had been nabbed for making and marketing defeat devices.

Is removing DPF legal?

According to recent data, tens of thousands of drivers have been discovered driving without their diesel particulate filter. Since 2014, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has discovered 1,800 drivers driving without a pollution-reduction filter in their vehicle.

While it is not against the law to remove a car’s DPF, it is against the law to drive without one if one is required. It’s thought that some drivers who have DPFs that have gotten blocked are just removing them rather than paying for a replacement, which may cost up to £1,000. Car drivers risk a £1,000 punishment, while driving a vehicle without a DPF carries a £2,500 penalty.

Diesel particulate filters collect small pollutants from diesel engines that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. They do, however, require’regeneration,’ which requires burning off the collected particles on a regular basis. High temperatures, which are normally reached when a vehicle is driven at a reasonably high speed, are required for this process to occur. Diesel drivers who mostly drive in cities may experience blocked DPFs since their vehicles do not routinely achieve the conditions required for regeneration.

The removal of a DPF is a very straightforward procedure that involves cutting a hole in a vehicle’s exhaust, removing the filter, and welding the hole closed. Although diesel cars must have a DPF to pass MoT inspections, this is only assessed visually rather than through emissions testing. Removing the filter has no effect on the car’s performance, and some drivers claim that driving without one improves fuel economy and engine performance.