Effect of Tampering on On-Road and Off-Road Diesel Vehicle Emissions

17 May 2022

Illegal manipulation (i.e., tampering) of vehicles is a severe problem because vehicle emissions increase orders of magnitude and significantly impact the environment and human health. This study measured the emissions before and after representative approaches of tampering of two Euro 6 Diesel light-duty passenger cars, two Euro VI Diesel heavy-duty trucks, and a Stage IV Diesel non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) agricultural tractor. With tampering of the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) for NOx, the NOx emissions increased by more than one order of magnitude exceeding 1000 mg/km (or mg/kWh) for all vehicles, reaching older Euro or even pre-Euro levels. The tampering of the NOx sensor resulted in relatively low NOx increases, but significant ammonia (NH3) slip. The particle number emissions increased three to four orders of magnitude, reaching 6–10 × 1012 #/km for the passenger car (one order of magnitude higher than the current regulation limit). The tampered passenger car’s NOx and particle number emissions were one order of magnitude higher even compared to the emissions during a regeneration event. This study confirmed that (i) tampering with the help of an expert technician is still possible, even for vehicles complying with the current Euro standards, although this is not allowed by the regulation; (ii) tampering results in extreme increases in emissions.