Thousands of UK motorists removing diesel particulate filters

DVSA figures reveal 1,800 diesel drivers have been caught without a DPF since 2014

Emissions tests questioned

Thousands of drivers have been caught driving without their diesel particulate filter, new figures reveal. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has caught 1,800 drivers since 2014 driving with the pollution-reducing filter removed from their car.

While it’s not illegal to remove a car’s DPF, it is illegal to drive without it if one should be fitted. It’s believed some drivers whose DPFs become blocked are simply bypassing the filters by removing them rather than paying for a replacement, which typically costs around £1,000. In doing so, car drivers are risking a £1,000 fine, while the penalty for driving a van without a DPF stands at £2,500.

Diesel particulate filters trap microscopic emissions produced by diesel engines that would otherwise be expelled into the environment. They require regular ‘regeneration’, however, which involves burning the captured particles off. This process can only occur at high temperatures, typically reached when a vehicle is driven at relatively high speed. Diesel drivers who predominantly drive in urban areas can therefore be faced with blocked DPFs, as their vehicles don’t regularly reach the conditions necessary for regeneration to occur.

• UK Child booster seat and baby car seat laws explained

The process for removing a DPF is a relatively simple one that requires cutting a hole in a vehicle’s exhaust, removing the filter and welding the resultant hole shut. Although MoT tests require diesel cars to have a DPF, this is checked via a visual inspection rather than emissions analysis. Removing the filter doesn’t affect the car’s performance, and some motorists even state they achieve better fuel economy and engine performance without one.

Nick Molden, chief executive of Emissions Analytics, told the BBC: “The MoT test is clearly not fit for purpose in checking if a DPF has been removed", while Frank Kelly, professor of environmental health at Kings College, London, explained that “a car with a DPF removed has a particulate count 20 times higher than one with it.” Since 2000, diesel particulate filters have reduced particle matter emissions by 90 per cent.

• Dutch move to ban diesel and petrol cars by 2025

The news follows previous reports that found numerous websites and online services offer DPF removal services

Services advertised on sites like Google, eBay and Gumtree offer to remove the filter for a fee. The garages offering this service are able to exploit the legal loophole that means driving a diesel car with its DPF removed is illegal, but the act of removing the filter is not.

Online retailers state the advertisements will not be banned because the act of removing a diesel particulate filter is not illegal. Were the laws to change, however, the sites admitted the advertisements would be removed.

Poor air quality is associated with 40,000 premature deaths in the UK every year, and campaign group Friends of the Earth (FoE) recently wrote to the Advertising Standards Authority to ban advertisements for services offering filter removal. The Group is also calling on the Government to tackle the practice head on.

Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner, Oliver Hayes, said: “Air pollution is a public health crisis of breath-taking proportions. The dodgy practice of removing pollution filters from cars is not only risking people’s health, but also putting drivers at risk of prosecution for the simple fact that it’s illegal to drive a car with its DPF removed.

• How to scrap your car, and what prices to expect

“We’re asking the ASA to clamp down on those advertising these dubious practices and help prevent more deadly pollution hitting our children’s lungs. But we’re also calling on the Government to make it illegal to remove these pollution filters in the first place. Unless they do, the absurd loophole remains whereby unscrupulous garages can remove a pollution filter but it’s only the driver, once they’ve turned the engine on, who is breaking the law.

What do you think about the practice of removing DPF filters from cars? Let us know in the comments section...

Recommended

Cyclists and pedestrians prioritised in upcoming Highway Code revisions
News

Cyclists and pedestrians prioritised in upcoming Highway Code revisions

Latest Highway Code changes look to strengthen the priority of walkers and cyclists over motorists
30 Jul 2021
UK road pricing: UK plan to plug the fuel duty gap
Motorway
News

UK road pricing: UK plan to plug the fuel duty gap

The Government’s plan to plug the £30bn gap in lost fuel duty is taking shape with bans on petrol and diesel car and trucks looming
13 Jul 2021
Four million people in the UK have fallen asleep while driving
Tired driver
News

Four million people in the UK have fallen asleep while driving

Research produces worrying revelation that four million UK motorists have nodded off behind the wheel at some point
16 Jun 2021
Thatcham approved devices and crash tests explained
Joe Finnerty in Hyper G sled
Consumer news

Thatcham approved devices and crash tests explained

Thatcham studies crashes, rates alarms and sets insurance groups to help cut drivers’ costs. We find out how
11 May 2021

Most Popular

New 2021 Volkswagen Taigo coupe-SUV breaks cover
Volkswagen Taigo R-Line - front
Volkswagen Taigo

New 2021 Volkswagen Taigo coupe-SUV breaks cover

The new VW Taigo is a sportier, more aggressive looking version of the brand’s T-Cross and is aimed at lifestyle buyers
29 Jul 2021
Land Rover unveils limited-run Defender Trophy Edition
Land Rover unveils limited-run Defender Trophy Edition - front
Land Rover Defender

Land Rover unveils limited-run Defender Trophy Edition

Just 220 examples will be built to honour past Camel Trophy Land Rovers, all of which have been reserved for the North American market
30 Jul 2021
New 2021 Kia EV6 boasts up to 328 miles of range
Kia EV6 - front
Kia EV6

New 2021 Kia EV6 boasts up to 328 miles of range

Kia reveals more specs for its bespoke electric car, with the EV6 offering long range and an 18-minute 80 per cent rapid recharge time
21 Jul 2021