Air Clean Up

Are Drivers Removing their Pollution Filters?

Nov 12 2017 Comments 0

Industry experts have estimated that there are thousands of illegal cars on Britain’s roads due to the fact that many motorists are removing the pollution filters from their diesel vehicles. Although the filters are mandatory by law, the cost of replacement of an old or faulty filter can be incredibly expensive, meaning that many drivers simply have them removed instead.

Critics have speculated that the current MOT test is to blame, since it doesn’t go far enough in determining whether or not the filter is present. Others have levelled criticism at the automotive companies and the industry in general for not offering guarantees on the filters or subsidising their replacement.

A loophole in the law

The law states that all diesel cars manufactured after 2009 must have a particulate pollution filter installed on its exhaust. The measure is designed to reduce the amount of contaminants emitted by vehicle exhausts and is just one of many ways that the government has attempted to improve air quality and reduce transport-related pollution since the issue surfaced in the mainstream consciousness over the last 10 years or so.

But while it is illegal to drive a car without a particulate filter, it’s not illegal for a garage or automotive shop to remove one. This loophole in the law has been exploited by drivers unable or unwilling to pay the thousands of pounds required to have a clogged filter replaced. It has also allowed garage and mechanic companies to continue advertising such services on eBay, Google and other websites, causing controversy among environmentalists. 

The tip of the iceberg

Recently, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) claimed that 1,800 vehicles had been discovered to have no particulate filter attached since 2014. However, industry experts told a BBC 5 Live Investigates commission that the figure was just the tip of the iceberg, and that the actual number of illegal cars on the road was much higher.

This is because current tests are not adequate in determining whether or not the filter is present. A standard MOT only requires a visual inspection and during the same BBC 5 Live investigation, a car with no filter passed its test at three different garages. Meanwhile, current emissions tests are not sophisticated enough to effectively detect its absence (or presence), prompting commentators to demand that the tests be updated.

Industry also to blame?

At the same time, disgruntled car owners have pointed the finger at the industry itself, claiming that the consumer is being lumped with a high cost for a recurring problem and that they should shoulder some or all of the expense.

“The car manufacturer should play a responsible part and guarantee the DPF filter for the life of the car,” said motorist Andrew Giller, who told the BBC he had to replace the filter four times in quick succession at a cost of £1,000 each time. “The problem is with the manufacturers, not the vehicle owner, but we are bearing the enormous cost of inefficient manufacture.”

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