It has been suggested that the risks of driving diesel cars are not being taken seriously enough as a study has uncovered that people have been opting to have their diesel particulate filter (DPF) removed rather than pay £1,000 for a replacement. Vehicles that remove a DPF spread toxic pollution 20 times greater than a normal diesel car.

A DPF is vital in helping to cut pollution created by diesel engines as it traps soot from the exhaust which is then burnt into harmless ash using heat created by the vehicle’s engine. All diesel cars manufactured after 2009 have one of these filters fitted, but 1,800 cars have been caught without one since 2014.

Although 1,800 already seems like a high number, there are likely to be many more motorists who are also driving their diesel car without a DPF as this is not picked up in an MOT, and cannot always be detected during an emissions test. So the true scale of vehicles without DPFs is not clear but some experts are estimating that there are up to 20,000 vehicles with DPFs removed driving on UK roads.

Removing DPFs improves performance

The cost of a new filter is one of the main reasons why motorists would prefer to not have one at all, as a replacement is priced at around £1000 whereas a removal will only set them back a few hundred pounds in comparison. As well as saving on replacement cost, many drivers claim that after having the DPF removed it improved engine performance and fuel efficiency, a leading cause of why so many are taking DPFs out in the first place.

If you are caught without a DPF and prosecuted on a car the fine is £1,000 and van £2.500 but as it stands no penalty points are applied on a license for removing a DPF. The DVSA are planning on closing the loophole and as well as making annual checks of DPFs compulsory, putting in place stricter penalties for having them removed for both driver and the garage who did it.

DPFs work most effectively at high temperatures which means that those installed in cars which do a lot of motorway driving are the most effective, whereas those which are subjected to lots of short and slow urban journeys are more likely to get clogged and break, which is why this problem is one that is affecting a high number of diesel owners.

Increased Performance

(Credit – morebyless/Flickr)

Most polluted towns and cities

If people were more aware of the risks involved in removing their DPF they might be less likely to do it, as the particulates released into the air can cause heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer, and affect unborn children too. In addition to this, it has been announced that around 40,000 premature deaths are caused by these deadly particles which are so small that they are inhaled deep into the lungs of individuals across the UK.

Plus, it is the whole of the UK that is being affected even though larger towns may be experiencing the most issues. A recent study has found that Glasgow and Scunthorpe are suffering the most, with London, Leeds and Birmingham also showing high levels of dangerous particulates in the air. Overall, there are 43 Uk towns which have pollution levels so high that they are breaking global safety limits, which shows just how serious this issue is.

Within London alone, 800 schools and many of its hospitals are in areas of high pollution which means that some of the city’s most vulnerable people are at risk of breathing in the most polluted air, surely another statistic that will help people to see how dangerous it is to drive a car that has been altered to allow more pollution to be emitted.

Diesel cars are now being placed at the top of the list of factors to blame for the increase in air pollution, which is partly down to the fact that people were encouraged to buy them by previous Governments due to the fact that they release less carbon dioxide than other vehicles which technically makes them a better choice in the fight against global warming. However, now that these new risks have come to light it is obvious that this promotion of diesel cars was a highly damaging one.

In May 2018 it is thought that tests will have been rolled out which can effectively test whether a diesel car still has its DPF intact, and with the new T-Charge being implemented in London it is hoped that this will help to reduce air pollution too.

In addition to this, diesel scrappage schemes are being made available by a number of car manufacturers to try to get as many as possible off of the roads as they work with the Government to try to make the world of motoring a more environmentally place to be.

What do you think of those who remove DPFs? Should they be penalised more harshly for polluting far more than other road users? What can be done to tackle pollution in our major towns and cities? Let us know in the comments below.

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