The DVSA has recently issued a warning to garages and motorists on its Blog regarding the removal of diesel particulate filters (DPFs).
Since February 2014, when an MOT tester inspects a diesel vehicle’s exhaust system they have to check if there’s a diesel particulate filter. Diesel particulate filters are important in maintaining acceptable levels of air quality. DPFs have been fitted on all diesel vehicles since 2013, as part of the Euro 5 emissions standard.
The DVSA commented that there are two main reasons that some people might want to remove a vehicle’s DPF.
1. Performance: Some garages claim removing a vehicle’s DPF will improve its performance and make it more economical to run.
2. Cost: Some garages also claim that removing the DPF is cheaper than replacing an old blocked up filter with a new one.
However, it is illegal to drive a vehicle that has been modified in that way.
The DVSA enforcement team recently investigated two linked companies, who were offering to remove DPFs from vehicles – describing their services as being “MOT friendly” and “hard to notice”.
Both companies regularly recommended each other on social media, but claimed to the investigators they had no official relationship, despite sharing the same address, staff and directors!
As a result of the investigation, DVSA found the directors of the DPF removal company were authorised testers. These MOT testers were banned from conducting MOT tests for 2 years and the owner of the MOT station was banned for 28 days.
The bans give a clear message about the importance of maintaining the integrity of the MOT. The consequences of turning a blind eye to a missing DPF (or worse, actively taking part in their removal) can be serious for an MOT tester.
A vehicle that needs a DPF and doesn’t have one should fail its MOT. If it is passed in the knowledge that it doesn’t have one, it will harm the environment and will be seen as fraud.
For drivers, the penalty for driving a vehicle with the DPF removed, are fines of up to £1,000 for a car or £2,500 for a light goods vehicle.
Undeclared illegal modifications (like removing a DPF) could also invalidate a vehicle’s insurance, so it’s not just garages who could face serious consequences.
During 2016 to 2017, DVSA issued 761 warnings or disqualifications to MOT garages or testers who carried out improper tests, putting all road users at risk.