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What You Need to Know Before Deleting or Tuning Your Heavy Equipment's Emissions System

We constantly receive calls from customers asking about deleting their emissions systems on machines ranging from tractors to heavy equipment. Some of these people want to delete before they send the piece of equipment out of the country, but the large majority are just tired of spending thousands of dollars to repair a machine. This isn’t their biggest hurdle - it’s the down time that is costing their businesses. Farmers are not only fighting weather to get in wet fields, they are stuck waiting on a dealer to come diagnose and repair their equipment.  Construction companies are losing money and putting projects behind schedule because machines aren’t moving dirt. So why aren’t deletes and tunes a viable option?

In this blog, we will run through some of the commonly asked questions our team gets about these systems.

Can I Delete My SCR and DPF Related Fault Codes?

Let’s start by saying this: do not, I repeat do not just remove the DPF, EGR or SCR components and expect everything to be just fine. People call in doing this every day and ask, “can I use my Diesel Laptop Kit to clear the codes out?” You have accomplished nothing by doing this. That ECM is still looking for the readings from various components, so simply clearing the derate out isn’t going to help you!

Can I Be Fined for Deleting My Equipment’s Emission Systems? Are EGR Kits Legal?

It is not legal to tamper with the emission system on any vehicle or equipment with a diesel engine. This is a Federal Law; making it illegal in all 50 states. ‘Off-Highway Use’ is a term truck guys often try to use to justify their deletes, but now the same technologies used on the on-road side have trickled down to off-highway engines. As a result, several truck companies were recently heavily fined for illegal deletes. Off-highway alterations will be investigated just as seriously.  One large fine could put some local businesses under. It just isn’t worth the risk.

Don’t take our word for it, take a look at this list of off-highway companies that have been fined.

Is Tuning My Machine Cost-Effective?

Reputable tuners know better than to advertise their services publicly as they may be caught and fined. So if you do a google search you’ll find several tuners, but they probably won’t be high quality. You may risk hiring someone that just copies the same tune in for your engine without understanding what that engines really used for. This can cause serious problems. Machines are designed for several purposes from digging dirt to planting fields or running water pumps off a pto.  The possibilities are endless, and a generic tune isn’t going to cut it. The components of these machines (engine, hydraulics, transmission, etc) are designed to work in unison – so when you start messing with one element it can have negative effects on other pieces of the machine.

With such a variety of engine applications and machine components, there’s a lot at stake. In a best-case scenario, you could run into some performance issues or potentially a bricked ECM. But worst case, you could be forced to spend thousands to purchase an entirely new engine.

Does Removing Emissions Components Increase Power & Fuel Economy?

This is true under controlled circumstances.  For the most part, a tractor or machine operator knows two speeds - idle or wide open.  Sure, these adjustments can ramp up the power, but in doing this your fuel economy is probably out the window.

Manufacturers spend millions of dollars per year in research to improve their emission systems. Because of this, machines are achieving better fuel economy and are becoming more reliable every year.

Does Tampering with My Emission System Affect My Warranty or Trade-In Value?

Anytime you tamper (not repair) your machine you can kiss your warranty and trade-in goodbye. Dealers won’t risk their reputation on a deleted or tuned machine come trade-in time. Not to mention your warranty will be void. Forget calling about anything that fails on that machine. 

You’re not held hostage to going to a dealer for repairs these days. There are solutions out there to allow you to diagnose and repair your machines, browse them here. But again, we do not recommend tampering with your emission system.

More Questions? Shoot Them Our Way

If you’d like to learn more about these systems we encourage you to take a look at our hands-on training class for aftertreatment diagnostics. Feel free to drop any additional questions in the comments below.

There’s also tons of helpful information about Commercial Truck Emission Deletes & Tunes in this article Diesel Laptops CEO Tyler Robertson wrote, check it out here.

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Angaeli Lall-Butcher

Angaeli covers all things Off-Highway as a part of the marketing team at Diesel Laptops, from construction and agriculture machinery to heavy equipment diagnostics.

My role has brought me to The National Tractor Pulling Championships in Bowling Green OH, had me trekking through farms in Gilbert, SC and even sent me to a construction theme park in NJ. I spread the word about new ways that Diesel Laptops serves the Off-Highway community, and work with diesel techs to help them discover heavy equipment repair options.

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