People who modify cars are soon to be in trouble from many, many different angles. It does not look good for runs anyone who tunes, loud exhausts, or even everyday people who need to buy tires. Between government and manufacturers, prices are going up, or parts are being taken off the market seemingly overnight. It will become challenging to be a car or truck guy. It’s a shame to see because the price it seems to cost now to modify what you drive is already time-consuming and expensive. No company or government as a whole seems to be helping with that.
The Environmental Protection Agency has recently started an enormous crackdown, seemingly to pertain to diesel trucks. To be more specific, the EPA seems to be going after medium-duty diesel trucks for tuners and emissions deletes. This has been going on for quite a few years but seems to have ramped up significantly due to the change of power in the white house. They currently estimate roughly 550,000 trucks on the road today have some tampering to emissions standards that trucks came with new from the factory. Many performance companies are either going out of business or immensely struggling as the crackdown of this becomes worse, notably H&S Performance, which after being fined by the EPA, shut their doors in 2013. In more recent events, Edge Products and Spartan Diesel Technology were both given heavy fines. Edge looks like they settled at around $500,000, and court documents I was able to track down on the EPA website claims around $4.1 million in fines to Spartan. From what I have found on forums and other websites, Spartan now goes by Patriot Diagnostic Systems, which probably changed shortly after fines were issued. It seems Edge still operates under the same name.
Now, everyone knows that one Karen who wants to “sAvE tHe EaRtH fOr YoUr ChIlDrEn,” which I agree with… to a point. But what Karen doesn’t realize is that many of the deleted trucks actually protect longevity, and in some cases, do actually run equally clean. It seems to be mostly the high-soot tunes that really hurt emissions on these trucks. Also, Karen’s Tesla they just bought to save said earth is not inherently better because “mY cAr DoEsN’t BuRn FoSsiL fUeLs.” Yes, as they drive down the road, they do not have emissions that go to the atmosphere; however, the problem lies in charging and battery production. Generally, electric cars create more carbon emissions due to the mining of rare-earth metals electric car batteries require to function properly. These earth metals, including Lithium, Nickel, Cobalt, and Graphite, are found underneath the earth’s surface and require extensive mining to extract. Electric vehicles offset this cost over time, approximately 1-3 years after driving, depending on how often or little the electric car is driven by anyone, and that does not account for battery disposal once the battery needs replacement. Now, I am NOT saying that electric cars are or aren’t the answer or the future. They say, “different strokes for different folks.” What I AM saying is that the argument for one or the other is typically made without the entire picture.
I think the emissions crackdown is important in some aspects; however, there is a fine line between saving the earth, restricting the people’s freedom, and restricting modifications to increase longevity on any person’s vehicle. However, this not only has implications for the diesel guys, as even tunes on performance cars have been “cuffed and stuffed,” if you will. Many tuners have now ditched custom tuning for fear of EPA fines, which were their way of life or livelihood in many of these shops. So, where will the line be drawn in the sand?
It seems tires are also being regulated, as many tire brands it seems will not be shipped to the states soon. The Department of Commerce has added tariffs to tires being shipped overseas to prevent what they call “anti-dumping.” Anti-dumping is when an overseas company ships a product somewhere else for a “less-than-domestic” price point. From first reading this, you may be thinking, “America hell yeah!” but look at the bigger picture. If we are not seeing many foreign tires, and domestic companies (the few we really have) will be much of the only tires we can get. We have some excellent tire companies in the US, including Goodyear, Cooper, Perelli, Michelin, Bridgestone, and others. But really think about the options you have for new rubbers for your vehicle and their price compared to just the American brands. With foreign brands going away, US companies will raise their prices without worrying about foreign competition. Companies like Federal, Attruo, Hankook will have to raise their prices a ton if they want to stay in the United States market, assuming they actually pay the tariff prices to ship here. It doesn’t look too good for anyone into modifying right now.
I would be lying if I thought the car scene wasn’t in danger. The fact of the matter is, the whole modification industry is currently on the verge of a massive revamp or shutdown. Whether you agree or disagree, this battle looks like it is going to be messy and controversial. If the EPA gets their way, there may no longer be any freedom to do what you would like with what you drive. It will worsen before it possibly gets better, so all we can really do is sit and watch.