A recent investigation has found that thousands of UK drivers are illegally driving modified cars without diesel exhaust filters. Diesel exhaust filters can become clogged and are likely to malfunction and fail because they process large amounts of particulate matter. Replacing a broken filter can cost up to £1000, so to avoid this some drivers have opted to have the filter removed or have been advised to have it removed as a solution to persistant problems.
The procedure to remove the filter is legal but driving the car without it is illegal and any vehicle found with a modified filter will be subject to a fine of £1,000 for a car or £2,500 for a van.
Current emissions tests are unreliable for detecting the presence of the filter, which is one reason drivers are be tempted to remove the filter. Current MOTs have been described by some commentators as unfit for purpose as they only require a visual test of the outside of the DPF to see if the filter is functional.
However, from May 2018 the DVSA plans to introduce changes to emission tests that will improve their ability to detect filters that have been tampered with. DVSA Chief Executive Gareth Llewellyn is quoted as saying: “Vehicles found to have been tampered with or are missing DPF filters will fail their MOT…the DVSA continues to pursue such offences and will take action against any MOT garages found to be conducting illegal modifications.” In September this year two mechanics from Sheffield were banned from MOT testing for two years for carrying out DPF removal and advertising the service as the practice brings the MOT scheme into disrepute.
Since 2014, over 1800 diesel cars in the UK have been found by the DVSA to be on the road without the legally required diesel particulate filters and without action this figure is likely to rise as consumers and those in the trade view it as a potential solution to issues. However, the pollution produced by the particulate matter in the diesel fumes can be damaging to the heart and lungs as well as unborn children. Noxious fumes created by diesel engines have been linked by The World Health Organisation to 38,000 premature deaths every year.
DPF removal is not a remedy or a repair in accordance with the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and should not be offered as such under any circumstances.