- The Diesel Brothers, stars of a Discovery Channel reality-TV show, have been fined more than $850,000 for bypassing emissions regulations in customizing the trucks that star on their show.
- The three defendants were sued by Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, which bought one of their diesel trucks and found it to be 36 times dirtier than the stock version.
- It’s not only the Diesel Brothers flouting the law; it’s easy to find aftermarket modifications to let you work around emissions equipment—and emissions testing.
If you’ve ever seen a diesel pickup belching black smoke through an exhaust pipe that looks like it should have Ninja Turtles living in it, you may have wondered, “Is that legal?” And the answer is no. The EPA forbids tampering with emissions equipment, and both state and local governments have specifically banned rolling coal. And now, a trio of high-profile truck nuts, the Discovery Channel’s Diesel Brothers, are facing an $851,451 fine for building and selling trucks with bypassed or nonexistent emissions equipment.
A lawsuit, brought by Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, argued that the Diesel Brothers were pretty clearly in violation of the Clean Air Act, given that they do it right on TV. The defendants—David Sparks, Joshua Stuart and Keaton Hoskins—claimed that, yes, they built smoke-spewing trucks, but that wasn’t a Utah problem since most of the trucks were sold out of state.
And furthermore, a big fine is inappropriate for some humble struggling mechanics. The Diesel Brothers’ lawyers argued that the business only makes about $1500 per truck. Or, ultimately a lot less on the truck they unwittingly sold to Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, which tested it and found it to be 36 times dirtier than stock. Whoops.
Assessing the defense’s arguments, Judge Robert Shelby decided that it doesn’t exactly matter where a coal-rolling truck is sold, for it will still be rolling coal wherever it may roam. And on the too-poor-to-pay plea: Yeah, right. While the Diesel Bros might not exactly have Duck Dynasty money, the business does own a helicopter and two planes, and Sparks is building a 7,500-square foot house. Court records show that Sparks alone was paid $482,000 by Discovery from 2016 through 2018, and that’s on top of money made by the various Diesel Brothers corporate entities.
The Diesel Brothers will surely play by the emissions book on future builds (if not, they’ll be in contempt of court), but there’s still a thriving market for emissions-defeating diesel truck modifications. The wink-wink disclaimer on aftermarket power controllers and straight-pipe exhaust systems is that they’re “for off-road use only.” For instance, the H&S Mini Maxx DPF delete tuner “gives you the ability to remove all emission components and sensors without setting diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) or a check-engine light.” The company even provides tips on how to cheat at emissions testing. (Basically, run the truck in the lowest power setting during testing, and don’t rip out all the emissions hardware if you live in California or New York, which do visual equipment inspections.)
The Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment might have something to say about that, though, too. They’ve also filed suit against TAP Worldwide, the company that owns 4 Wheel Parts stores, for selling the type of products that the Diesel Brothers installed.
A stock 2020 Ford Super Duty diesel makes 475 horsepower and 1050 lb-ft of torque. The maximum tow rating is 37,000 pounds. The question, when stock Ford, GM, and Ram trucks have such ridiculous numbers already: Why are people risking huge fines and environmental mayhem to get more powerful trucks?