MOT tailpipe emissions testing "could be scrapped"

Plans to move to OBD tests could prevent the discovery of missing DPFs

Published:  28 November, 2013

Proposed changes to the MOT test could see the end of diesel emissions tailpipe testing altogether, according to reports.

The news comes as high-level meetings over the structure of MOT testing are being held in Brussels. Yet according to the Clean Air in London (CAL) group, some EU governments, including the UK, want to replace emissions testing with diagnostic checks, to ensure engines are running efficiently.

The removal of emissions testing will also harm the potential discovery of a missing diesel particulate filter (DPF). Recently, the UK government confirmed that vehicles running without a DPF would be considered unroadworthy, and therefore would be illegal to operate on the roads. In addition, information obtained by CAL from the Institute of British Insurers confirms that vehicles deemed unroadworthy are risking their insurance policies being declared void.

Simon Birkett, Founder and Director of CAL, comments: "Unless new roadworthiness testing regulations stop the modification, tampering and/or removal of diesel particulate filters and emissions control units, illegal driving of vehicles will continue and public health will suffer.  These units need to be fully operational and effective to protect public health and motorists."

The move suggests that instead of tail pipe testing, MOT stations would instead be able to check the vehicle ECU to see if a fault in the emissions system is present. According to a report published in November by the EGEA: "Various studies supported the need for tailpipe testing. Conversely, it is worth highlighting that there are a significant number of vehicles where the OBD system could not support an alternative solution.

"Only direct tailpipe testing can detect that key emission control components are still fitted and are operating correctly (e.g. diesel particulate filter), ensuring that tampering or manipulation can be detected."

While it remains to be seen what the final proposals will be, it is hoped that stricter emissions test levels will be put in place for diesels, to help garages detect DPF removal.

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