Across America, people — specifically, diesel truck owners — are messing with their emissions systems. It has become an unusually common occurrence in the diesel world. More than 550,000 diesel pickups have had their emissions system tampered with or removed and the impact is greater than you imagine.
You may know or have seen someone drive a truck with an exhaust that’s pretty nasty. Chances are, that was someone with a modified emissions system, altered to remove artificial limits placed on how it burns diesel in order to change its performance.
Cars have been getting greener over the years and hopefully, someday there could be a future where cars or trucks with no emissions will be manufactured. A future where no emissions would be needed would be amazing for the planet and pretty much everyone. But there will always be those people who need just a little more power, just a little more efficiency, and just a little more emission to get them there.
What is Deleting?
Diesel truck drivers have been engaging in a process called deleting. Vehicles have several components inside them to minimize pollutants emitted into the air. These parts include valves, filters, coolers, and even computer chips to decrease emissions. Deleting is the process of removing or “deleting” these specific components in a diesel vehicle.
So why do this? Well, these components inside the truck are susceptible to getting clogged up and damaged. Diesel can create some pretty bad exhaust in the forms of nitrogen oxides and other particulates. These molecules get caught through the emission system and thankfully don’t go out into the air we breathe.
But when they’re dirty, they will reduce the performance of the vehicle they are connected to. You’re supposed to get these parts cleaned or replaced but some diesel truck owners will decide to delete them instead. This would involve removing the emissions system and even reprogramming the ECU or engine control unit. They reprogram the ECU so that it can work around not having an emissions system and no error codes will give away that the truck has been tampered with.
So, what do you get from a diesel truck that’s been deleted? Just some minor performance boost or legendary gains in torque and speed? The benefit from removing the emissions and actively worsening the environment is pretty small. Just a few more miles to the gallon, a few more horses, and a slightly quicker throttle response.
So, is it legal? Short answer: no. Usually, environmental controls are federally mandated so you bet it’s illegal to mess with them in any way. If you or a shop is caught messing with the emissions system you could be fined more than $4,000.
Is It Preventable?
Even though it is very illegal to make these modifications, ordering the parts to do so is not. This is because when it comes to racing or competition sports, it is legal to modify the emissions system. So, people who get these delete tools for motorsports can sell them to somebody who wants to make his truck a little dirtier.
Because of the availability of tools for deletions, thousands upon thousands of diesel truck owners are performing them throughout the country. In North Dakota, as many as 25 percent of diesel trucks have been tampered with and this equates to a ton of pollution.
The impact these trucks have on the environment is no joke either. More than 570,000 tons of nitrogen oxide have been put in the air for just a little boost in performance. It is also found that these trucks have produced 5,000 tons of industrial soot which is a link to respiratory disease.
It’s a bad time to find out there is so much air pollution that can complicate issues with the lungs when there is a global pandemic afoot. But not only that, it’s happening at a ground level where people tend to breathe. This pollution issue is being compared to the Volkswagen scandal where they were deceitful for their emissions testing. At least Volkswagen cheated with small cars — these are huge trucks, so the impact is much greater.
So why are people tampering with their emissions systems on diesel? It is because they’re looking to get a little boost from their vehicle while actively not caring about its effect on the environment. This is a dangerous trend. If only a few people were doing it wouldn’t be that bad, but ow that so many diesel trucks have made this mod, the environment is worse for wear.
Diesel trucks that have been deleted can still be fixed up though so if you or someone you know has performed a deletion it can always be reversed for a price. It is legal if you bring your truck to a mechanic and you should be able to get it fixed up since it’s just considered damaged. Of course, if you don’t want to bother you can always sell it like you were selling a damaged used car.