The Independent on Sunday has found that more than 1,000 garages and tuning firms are offering to remove DPFs for as little as £250 – despite new MOT rules which now mean that a DPF must be present on a vehicle factory fitted with one.
The investigation found that businesses are continuing to remove the filters under a legal loophole – it is only an offence to drive a car without a factory-fitted DPF.
DPFs became mandatory on diesels manufactured since 2009 but owners can face bills of up to £1,500 to have the DPF replaced.
Air pollution from diesel particulates has been linked to 29,000 deaths a year.
Experts say the particulates enter the lungs and bloodstream and have been linked to autism, heart disease and cancer – they have also been shown to stunt children’s brains.
Kerry McCarthy the Shadow Environment Secretary, said: “This will add to growing public concern about pollution from diesel cars, and the impact on air quality.
“Regulations exist to protect public health, but we are being let down by a negligent Government that is failing to enforce them.”
With further bad press for the diesel engine following the VW emissions scandal, which concerns nitrogen oxides rather than particulates, Simon Birkett, director of Clean Air in London, said the scale of DPF removal uncovered was ‘shocking’.
“Frankly, at least VW had a chip, even if it cheated during testing.
“Removing factory-fitted DPFs involves tricking or disengaging the whole emissions chip, all the time, on gases and particles,” he explained.
Chris Roberts, managing director of Quantum Tuning, which offers DPF deletion services to around 300 garages and turning firms said: “Either they scrap the car or get something done about it.
“And if they are going to have it done, they may as well have it done properly by a garage that will explain what the MOT implications are, as our dealers do.”
Campaigners argue that the MOT fails to catch DPF removal because it only includes a ‘visual inspection’ of the hardware, which can be welded back together and the optical smoke test cannot detect dangerous particulate matter.
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “If a car is fitted with a DPF and it is removed, it is illegal to be driven on the road.
“We continue to monitor how many vehicles are failing the MOT for this reason, and explore steps to stamp out this practice.”
With more and more diesels suffering DPF-related issues, how do you deal with DPF problems in your workshop? Share your experiences, thoughts and concerns in the comments below.