Is Removing Diesel Emission Equipment A Bad Idea?
Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience and 21 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking about diesels this morning. How you doing Bernie?
Bernie: Doing well.
Mark: So removing diesel emission equipment. I see actually quite a few diesel vehicles in my area that are blowing excessive smoke. Is this just a malfunction or is someone removed the emission equipment?
Bernie: It could be a bit of both. Now it depends on what age of diesel. Of course, older diesels do tend to smoke. That's a normal part of the way they were. But anything newer, and I'm talking like, 2008 and newer shouldn't be really blowing any smoke whatsoever. So if you see a vehicle, truck, car or anything like that, that's that age and it's blowing smoke, there's either either a malfunction or someone's removed emission mission equipment. And I, I know where you live and you know, I know that, it's very tempting to remove that stuff and people do it all the time around here.
Mark: So why would someone remove the emission equipment when it was put there for an important reason keeping our air clean?
Bernie: Yeah. Well there are quite a few compelling reasons, if you don't actually care about the quality of the air that you breathe or about other people's air. But that aside, a few compelling reasons are it removes the complicated, there's a lot of complication to diesel emission equipment. There are particulate filters. There's a urea injection system to remove, again, to remove particulate. There are catalytic converters that again, reduce the emission from the diesel system plus, we can talk about the EGR cooler. These are more on the, on the engine side of things. An EGR system, which creates a whole different level of issues.
So, you know, to keep a diesel clean, there's a lot of complexity to it. Not unlike a gasoline engine, but diesel emission equipment is sort of new and I think it's, it's kind of finding its way through the system, getting the bugs worked out. Unfortunately a lot of the stuff is really expensive. When it fails, it costs a lot of money to fix, on the other downside, the the fuel economy is not as good on an emission equipped diesel as it is on a non emission equipped diesel. So by removing, simply removing those items, you actually use far less fuel, which is certainly money in your pocket, and you can also get a lot more power out of the vehicle too.
So again, there's a, there's a number of advantages, but of course the disadvantages is a quality of our air.
Mark: So you mentioned that these components, the system complicated as it is, it's probably expensive. How expensive is it?
Bernie: Really expensive, you know, like the I mean, a particulate filter can be three or $4,000.
A catalytic converter, same amount of money. The urea injection system, there's, again, you know, it can be thousands of dollars worth of components and pieces there. So there's, there can be a lot of money, things to go wrong. Generally, these things do last a long time. There's also a number of sensors as well that can malfunction. They're not so expensive, but again, you know, you have like a check engine light comes on. Or it won't go into regeneration mode. It can be a couple of sensors. You know, you could walk out with $1,000 bill. So you know, it's tempting to go, well, it's just you know, spend a couple thousand bucks, get rid of it all.
And you know, but there again, there's a price to pay and we'll talk a little more about that.
Mark: So an EGR, that's an exhaust gas recirculation, is that right?
Bernie: It is.
Mark: Okay. So why would you delete that?
Bernie: Well, there's a number of, again, there's a number of issues that happen with that. What EGR does is it recirculates exhaust gas back into the combustion chamber of the engine and what the effect of that is, it actually cools the combustion temperature that reduces NOx emission. And you know NOx emissions are very high in a diesel engine. So that's, EGR has had been around for a long time, but what happens with the EGR system, you know, Ford 6 litres famous for this, they're EGR coolers would crack and create a whole number of problems. So a number of companies came out with EGR Deletes. You basically get rid of the EGR system and problems are solved. You know, some other companies, that Bulletproof Diesel, for instance, that have come out with basically Bulletproof Coolers where they solved all the issues that were inherent with the you know, EGR, original EGR Cooler. And that basically, you know, that's a basically good alternative. Once you put one of those in, your problems are basically solved for forever, so you can keep the EGR system. But yeah, I mean, the other disadvantage of EGR is it just, and we see this a lot on Mercedes diesels, a number of other smaller truck diesels and car diesels. It just puts a lot of particulate material and carbon deposits in the intake system that can block everything up and need to be removed. So, you know, having that not there would certainly eliminate that problem. But you know, again, there's, there's a price to pay environmentally, so better to keep it on and keep it working and fix it.
Mark: So to remove your diesel equipment or emission equipment from your vehicle, is this illegal or legal to do that? And are the police out there looking for people who've done that?
Bernie: Okay, so legality in the United States, every state in the United States, it's 100% illegal to remove any emission equipment or tamper with anything.
In Canada it's a little more, more of a wild west kind of attitude. The research I've done federally at when a vehicle sold, it must meet the Canadian and federal emissions standards, but once the vehicle is sold, it's really up to each province to regulate that. So certain provinces of Saskatchewan, for instance, at least back a few years ago, it was, it's fully legal to remove any emission equipment from your diesel vehicle. I don't know about gasoline, I assume gasoline's the same thing. It's fully legal to remove any emission equipment and modify it any way you like. I know in Ontario, absolutely 100% illegal, just like the US. British Columbia, same thing I believe. At least if the police know that you've removed anything, they'll order it to be reinspected and setback to original specs. So that's, so that's kind of kind of how Canada works. You'd have to, you know, if you really want to know, you'd have to check each provincial law, but to be on the safe side, better to keep it all for sure.
Mark: How expensive is it to restore them if you get caught?
Bernie: While it costs a lot. And so as I mentioned, you know, a lot of these components cost thousands of dollars. I mean, if you, if you were to remove your emission equipment or are you having to buy a truck that has it removed, make sure you keep everything or you, not advocating doing it, but keep every single bit and piece. If you happen to buy a truck that's got the stuff removed. Hopefully the seller has everything to give you.
Otherwise, I think that makes that truck worth an awful lot less money. I mean, you're looking at thousands of dollars to put everything back back to original, and you know, that would be with the idea of buying, you know, basically the cheaper way would be to buy the, what's missing used and then just get a functional modified. But it's a lot of work to restore it.
Mark: Is it only from trucks that people are removing the emission equipment?
Bernie: Well, mostly, but you know, there are, you know, there are people who remove it from cars, TDI, Volkswagens. We even had a client with a BMW, a diesel station wagon, which is, you know, kind of like a surprising customer, I would think to want to remove emission equipment, but there was some, there was a couple of things that happened in the vehicle and another thing had happened. He said, I'm just going to take it to Alberta and have this stuff removed there's a shop that specializes in that. So, you know, it's everybody. I hate to say it, but people are cheap and self-centred, you know. I mean, I'm a person too. You know, some, but you know, people just, they care more about their own self interest a lot of times and they do thinking about the broader picture. When you think about the air that we breathe, you know, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, I mean, the air quality in Vancouver was far worse than it is now. And the, the whole reason is because the vehicles we make are, they're just far cleaner. They've got better emission equipment, things function properly, and even diesels, you know, I mean they used to stink so badly. You just get, get next to an old diesel like a, I don't know, like early nineties or early two thousands Ford diesel pickup trucks, 7.3 litre. Great engine, by the way. But I mean, just the smell. I mean, you can barely breathe next to it and you get a brand new, a 6.7 litre Ford, you can just have a, you know, the engine is running, you can barely hear it. You can have a conversation and talk beside it. And you know, that's, you know, the technology, the advancements in engine design and also the emission equipment that's put on the vehicle. So there's a tremendous advantage to it.
Mark: Of having the mission equipment?
Bernie: But having it. Yeah. Yeah. Now, I know there are advantages to removing it, as we've said, but they're not really favourable in many respects.
Mark: So isn't it foolish for a shop to actually remove this equipment based on the legal requirements to have that you must have according to the law emission equipment on your vehicle?
Bernie: Yeah, I would say so. Absolutely. I mean, we don't do it at our shop. We have chosen not to do it. I know a lot of other diesel, progressive diesel shops that don't do it either. I know Bulletproof Diesel, it's a company in the US they sell a lot of neat products for, you know, diesel vehicles to make them better. They don't sell any, removal equipment either. There are companies in the US, Edge Diagnostics used to make a tuner that would allow you to delete everything. They got sued for millions of dollars by the EPA. So they're gone and out of business. And there are shops around, I mean, I actually know a dealership not far from me a, I'm not going to mention the brand name, but they actually remove emission equipment from their diesels. And, I said, Hey, how do you guys, you know, why are you guys doing that? Aren't you worried about your liability? No, we just get people to sign a waiver that they're using it for off road use. Well, which is ridiculous, you know, I'm sure it'll come back to bite them at some point. You never know when the government's going to really clamped down. Like right now, they're right now they don't, but, you know, they can. So, yeah, I think it's foolish.
Mark: Any final thoughts on the subject of a mission device removal?
Bernie: Yeah. Well, if you think, hey, no, no one's going to look for it. I'll tell you that I've had a couple of customers in the last six months, both driving Dodge diesels, driving down the road, something happened, there a light flickered or malfunctioned and the police pulled them over. Kind of got a little suspicious that they may have removed some emission equipment and ordered them to have an inspection done to make sure that everything was in order. So those are the kind of simple things that happen. They're not usually cops out about looking, Oh, you know, with flashlights under a vehicle. But if anything happens, they get suspicious, you know, and it's sometimes the little things like a burned out light bulb that'll take you out. So, you know, I don't know my, you know, my final thoughts, keep it there, keep it working and keep our air clean.
Mark: Yeah. For those who want to remove it, just think about removing all that equipment, parking that vehicle in your garage, closing a door and spending an hour in there. Would you do that? Would you want your kids to do that? Would you want your grandparents to do that? They're not going to live and neither are you. If you do that, it's deadly toxic. And then the more research is done, that's the minute particles that come out of a diesel are, are making us stupid, basically and killing us.
Bernie: You know, the particulate from diesel is a carcinogen. It's very fine particle. It gets deep in the lungs and it's pretty serious.
Mark: It's killing people.
Bernie: Yeah, it is. You know, and so you know, again, we're, we're working on ways to get our world cleaner. I mean, when one day all vehicles will be electric and we won't have be having this conversation anymore. But, you know, in the interim, we're doing the best we can with the dirty fuel.
Mark: So if you're looking for service for your diesel vehicle to keep it running clean and legally in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive, you can reach them at (604) 327-7112. They're also experienced in putting diesel emission equipment back on vehicles so you can call them and inquire about that. It's a steep price to pay. Be aware of that. And this is in Vancouver, BC area of Canada. Thank you so much for watching the podcast. We really appreciate it. Give us a like on the socials and thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for watching.