DEFs and California Truck Regulations
There’s a misconception that being a trucker is easy – that you just get comfy and drive around in the sunshine, with your favourite music playing and the wide open road ahead. And while it has moments like that, it’s still a job. A job that’s done in all conditions, rain or shine, with long stretches away from home and your family. A job with rules, laws, safety protocols, and plenty of paperwork that follows you everywhere you go.
Government regulation of the trucking industry varies across provinces and states, with some being stricter than others on things like maintenance, scheduling, and emission standards. California is well known for being among the strictest places in North America when it comes to these laws, and has been for many years.
Starting in 2008, the California government began mandating that trucks had to systematically upgrade their engines and equipment, and install new tech in order to increase aerodynamics and lessen friction – at the truckers’ own cost, naturally. While such modifications may end up saving money in the long run, and are not a bad idea in theory, it is a lot of money to invest up front into a fleet of vehicles all at once. From 2012 to 2020, all trucks have to periodically swap out older parts for newer ones that would meet the ever-higher standards from the government.
One of the biggest changes, though, was the mandatory installation of diesel particulate filters. These after-market filters scrub out some particulates from the exhaust vents of the engine, keeping the worst of the soot pollutants out of the air – but they can be very expensive (into the thousands of dollars), unmodifiable (once it’s on, it cannot legally be removed or tampered with), and if not properly maintained can hamper the performance of your vehicle. Again, this is not a bad policy per se – but just this step, retrofitting a fleet with these devices, can rack up six-figure price tags.
Which brings us to the main point: starting next year, any truck built before 2010 that does not have an upgraded engine – yes, the whole engine – will be denied registration in California. And not only that, as technology changes over time, this consistent upgrade will be an ongoing process that doesn’t stop, costing truck owners time, money, and stress every year for the foreseeable future.
We’re not against environmental regulations here at West Tech Mobile, but we are against a system that unduly punishes the hardworking truck drivers and equipment operators that make our economy run. Just when it seems like they’re catching up to the “way things are”, that way changes and they have to shell out again to avoid costly fines and penalties.
The onus should be on the governing body to do the research into this technology they’re introducing, and making sure that it’s long-lasting enough to make the transitions and installations worth the effort. Beyond that, it seems unfair to pin the entire cost on the industry – since their whole business model depends on being able to drive their trucks, and they have literally no choice but to pay up or go out of business. Framed that way, it doesn’t seem like a very helpful move, does it?
So you know what West Tech thinks – but what do you think? Are regulatory bodies like the ones in California overstepping their bounds and costing truck drivers thousands in unnecessary costs? Or is all of this a step in the right direction for the industry, with no alternative way to subsidize the rising prices of being a trucker? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Heavy Truck & Equipment Diesel Filters | How To Keep Them Cleaner, Longer
Diesel engines have come a long way since the first ones rolled out of the production lines. They’ve become more efficient, much more powerful, and overall much more specialized to the tasks they perform. In recent years, though, a universal component has made its way into new diesel engines: the diesel particulate filter, or DPF.
There are a variety of ways that these filters accomplish their job, but it boils down to this: they are built directly into trucks to help control pollution, and reduce the amount of particles that escape from the exhaust emissions. Because of this, in many places it is illegal to remove a DPF from an engine. More and more provinces putting similar laws in place, so this is not a trend that can be ignored if you do a lot of interprovincial driving.
So why is this important? As with any filter, they eventually become plugged up. As it catches more and more particulate matter, the filter – no matter what type it is – will accumulate the debris and sooner or later become saturated, reducing the efficiency of it. At this point, the computer in your truck will have to recognize this, and initiate a sequence to resolve the problem – obviously, the less that this happens, the better it is for your filter and engine overall.
What kind of solutions are available for this? Well, the easiest way to improve the life of your pollution-control device, and its reliability within your unit, is to come see us at West Tech Mobile – that’s what we’re here for! Catching these issues early will save you money in the long run, and keep you on the road in a reliable vehicle. Our heavy truck computer diagnostic equipment allows us to help with your DPF device, as well as any other computer issues under your hood.
One factor that greatly affects how quickly your DPF will saturate is where you do most of your driving. Highway routes are generally better, since there is not much starting and stopping or extreme speed changes, but if you are in the city, your unit will be more prone to diesel filter issues. One noticeable aspect of it is having to start your engine from the cold, which increases engine wear as well as the time spent idling while it warms up.
Our advice? If you can, plug your truck in when possible, to make sure your engine stays warm through the worst of the winter cold. This will avoid some unnecessary wear, as well as making it much easier for the engine to start (and run) properly. Alternatively, you can put the coolant heater on, if you’re not close to an outlet; if you’re, say, stopped on the side of the road, you know that your engine will be ready to go again when you are. Not only will it be easier on the DPF, but you’ll save money on fuel by not having to warm up your engine first, and you’ll be able to drive sooner (as your cab will heat up right away, and defrost your windshield). If you idle your truck to warm it up, your diesel filter will get clogged much faster than if you plug it in, so avoid it if you can!
If you’ve got heavy equipment somewhere remote, with no power nearby, let us know and we’ll come out to put a Webasto coolant heater on your engine – this will save you big money as time goes on! We’re all about extending the longevity of your equipment at West Tech Mobile in Calgary, Alberta, and doing it at a great price. Contact Us today to make sure you get the most out of your truck, no matter where you’re going!