Modern commercial vehicle aftertreatment systems have dramatically reduced harmful vehicle emissions and helped improve our air quality. But since their initial introduction, these systems have also contributed to more instances of mechanical breakdown and therefore, downtime. Recent changes in aftertreatment technology have significantly improved performance and reduced the number of failures but still, some are leery of the potential for failure that the aftertreatment system may introduce. For example, when the truck is producing emissions in excess of what is allowed under the Clean Air Act, the aftertreatment will shut the truck down, even if it is otherwise in good working order.
To avoid a possible shut down, some in the trucking industry have been tempted to tamper with aftertreatment systems hoping to reduce or eliminate the possibility that the truck could stop operating due to the aftertreatment system. Aftertreatment systems are usually tampered with (often said to be “deleted”) in one of two ways:
- By physical removal of components within the system, or
- Through re-programming the Aftertreatment Control Module (ACM), allowing the system to operate outside of regulatory standards
The temptation to circumvent the aftertreatment system’s ability to “regulate” the operation of the truck is simply something you should not do. In fact, tampering with the aftertreatment system in any way is a violation of federal law. Repair facilities who tamper with aftertreatment systems or perform repairs to trucks with improper aftertreatment systems risk heavy criminal and/or civil penalties. Similarly, owner-operators who tamper with their aftertreatment system can face those same penalties, along with the potential for losing their operating authority. In short, a good business can lose revenue or even potentially go out of business simply by tampering with an aftertreatment system.
Owner-operators also need to remember that most warranties have provisions that could void aftertreatment warranty coverage if the system has been tampered with. If that happens, they could end up paying the cost out of their pocket to have the aftertreatment restored to proper working order plus, still be subjected to paying fines for violation of the law.
Aftertreatment system failure can be one of the most expensive repairs you can make on a truck. Having aftertreatment warranty coverage is a smart way to limit your risk of high out of pocket repair costs. But also, take time to pay attention to this important part of your truck. If you’re purchasing a used truck, make sure that the aftertreatment system, including the physical components and the ACM, is operating within required specifications. If your truck has problems with the aftertreatment system, check that the service facility follows all the right guidelines so your system functions properly and within industry standards.
Maintaining the day-to-day operation of the aftertreatment system on your truck is the right thing to do for our environment. But it also helps assure that your truck and your business keep running smoothly so you keep making money.