Advertising Standards Authority acts on Diesel Particulate Filter removal

Posted on February 9th, 2017 by Rob Marshall


Ironically, while the Volkswagen Group is still bearing the brunt of the diesel-gate scandal, the aftermarket act of removing and/or disabling anti-pollution features on cars continues to be advertised openly. One of the most common of these procedures includes the removal of Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF – one of which is pictured) and tricking the MoT tester into thinking that the filter is present, when it is not.

The activity is so widespread that I suspect that there is neither a major town, nor city, in the UK that does not have at least one company advertising DPF removal openly. The result is an unknown number of vehicles pumping-out excessive and unregulated cancer-causing toxins into the atmosphere, all because the car owner wishes to save a few pennies in repair/replacement costs.

Following a complaint from Friends of the Earth, the ASA has acted against Avon Tuning of Bristol, which advertises DPF removal services. The complaint was upheld, because the ASA felt that the advert did not emphasise sufficiently that the car was illegal to use on the road after the DPF is removed. The full report can be read here.

Is removing DPFs illegal?

While using a car on the road that has had its DPF removed is illegal, media sources (including this report from The Guardian newspaper) claims the existence of a ‘loop hole’ that makes the act of removing the filter not being an offence in itself. Yet, while I am no lawyer, and I am unaware of any case law in this regard, the issue appears to be dealt with clearly under British legislation:

A person who…uses on a road a motor vehicle or trailer which does not comply with such a <construction and use> requirement, or causes or permits a motor vehicle or trailer to be so used, is guilty of an offence.” (Section 42 of the Road Traffic Act, referencing breached of Construction and Use)

Also, note Regulation 61. 5(b) of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986.

“No person shall use, or cause or permit to be used, on a road any motor vehicle—

 (b)… if the fuel injection equipment, the engine speed governor or any other parts of the engine by which it is propelled have been altered or adjusted so as to increase the emission of smoke…”

 With diesel vehicles being blamed for being a significant cause of poor urban air quality levels, a court case that establishes a precedent that makes the physical removal of a vehicle’s anti-pollution system an offence cannot come too soon. Until then, the ASA has advised GEM that, in light of its ruling, follow-up work will be undertaken with other garages to ensure that their adverts are compliant with its recent findings.