The hazards of tampering – Part IV: Punishments for tampering

Lucas Deal April 11, 2014

When a tampered unit is discovered by authorities, the vehicle owner isn’t the only one on the hook for a fine.

Current EPA tampering laws allow the government to levy fines on service providers who not only perform tampering, but also those who identify tampering during emission system maintenance and fail to bring the vehicle to compliance.

MISS THE START? Here’s Part I of our special report on tampering.

Which means, you don’t even have to perform tampering to get busted, Peter Savage, director of fleet solutions at Clarke Power Services and chairman of TMC’s Emissions Tampering task force, says. A service provider ignoring a clear violation is fined just the same as the service provider who actually performed the tampering.

And at $37,500 per incident, the fines are quite harsh.

Unfortunately that information has not been clearly communicated to the commercial vehicle market.

A recent Successful Dealer reader survey uncovered only 55 percent of dealers were aware that $37,500 is the maximum fine that can be levied on a service provider who offers tampering. Nearly 24 percent of responders thought the fine was $3,750, and almost 15 percent responded that there isn’t a fine at all. (See graph below for survey results.)

SD Figure 1

But its important note that in order to incur these violations, a service provider must be hired to perform work on an emission system.

The EPA says examples of that work include tampering, and alterations made to an engine and emission system post-tampering — legal or illegal — that do not bring the unit back into compliance. An attempt to bring a vehicle back to compliance that fails also can result in a fine if not reported to the vehicle owner and EPA.

Brad Williamson, manager, engine and component marketing for Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) says DTNA advises its dealer network to be mindful of the intricacy of these rules when tasked with correcting tampering. DTNA protocol says techs “should not attempt to partially repair a tampered system and return it to the customer without having corrected the tampering,” he says.

Service providers are currently not liable for tampering or subject to fine when providing non-emission related service on a vehicle that is later uncovered to exhibit tampering.

Bill Puchniarz, manager, inline field services at Navistar, provided this service provider example last fall at TMC.

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