Federal Agencies Crack Down on defeat Devices for Autos

by : Glady Reign

Recently, the Department of Justice and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has come up with a benchmark settlement after the federal agencies mandated Casper's Electronics of Mundelein, Illinois. The said company was told to pay a fine and to desist from selling auto devices which are designed to defeat a car's emission control system. The said devices allow vehicles to release a huge amount of greenhouse gases.

The settlement was reached after Casper's Electronics was found out to be violating the Clean Air Act. The settlement is the first of its kind but by the way federal agencies are reacting to the case, it would not be the last.

Casper's Electronics was ordered to stop selling devices known as oxygen sensor simulators or O2 Sims. Aside from being told to stop selling the said device, Casper's was also ordered to recall the devices which they have already sold. This is apart from paying civil penalties to the United States worth more than $74,000.

The device is designed to 'trick' the onboard computer. With this device, the driver will not be warned whether his or her emission control system is working properly or not. With the O2 Sims, the vehicle can still run without a catalytic converter without the driver being warned. Such devices are called 'defeat devices' and are prohibited under the federal Clean Air Act.

To date, Casper's has already sold about 44,000 units of the device. The company has been selling the aftermarket parts on the internet since 2001. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the use of that number of such devices would result to emission of about 7,400 tons of hydrocarbons, 347,000 tons of carbon monoxide, and 6,000 tons of nitrogen oxides. All these gases are potentially harmful to the environment.

With the amount of harmful emission being produced by vehicles with these 'defeat devices', it can be considered as a threat to the efforts made by car manufacturers to produce eco-friendly vehicles. Not only fully assembled vehicles but other aftermarket parts such as are designed to help reduce emission but the O2 Sims is not one of them.

"Emission control defeat devices, like those used here, risk harming human health and the environment by allowing huge increases in pollutants from motor vehicles," said Ronald J. Tempas, the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "The Justice Department will continue to vigorously enforce all of the provisions of the Clean Air Act - including its rule against these devices - against violators, including those using the Internet to illegally sell their wares," he added.

The device marketed by Casper's Electronics allows car owners to forego the use of catalytic converters which are designed to reduce the harmful emission. This would mean an increase in power since back pressure is reduced but emission is also increased which is a very disturbing threat to the environment.

"Reliable and effective automobile pollution control systems are essential to protect human health and the environment from harmful automobile emissions," said Granta Nakayama, the EPA's Assistant Administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance. "Casper's sale of the oxygen sensor simulator defeat devices over a multi-year period is a serious violation because it facilitated the removal or malfunctioning of motor vehicle catalytic converters, which are the primary emission controls devices to prevent excessive pollution from cars and trucks."