AdBlue cheats on the increase

News that the EU is taking the UK to court failing to meet air quality targets has made clean running HGVs even more essential. And that’s where AdBlue comes into play. When an AdBlue tank is fitted to a diesel vehicle, the liquid converts harmful NOx emissions into harmless nitrogeon and oxygen.

Job sorted you might think. But DVSA roadside checks are revealing that the numbers of goods vehicles trying to cheat the system is on the increase. Between August 2017 and February 2018, out of 10,237 trucks stopped at roadside checks, 293 were found to have been fitted with AdBlue emulators.

So why are transport operators so keen to cheat the system? In the first instance, using AdBlue is an additional running cost for operators. Secondly, according to the RHA, there is evidence that the installation of emissions control equipment has caused technical problems. Operators have reported that in Euro-5 trucks and in some Euro-6 trucks, emissions controls systems are causing them to slow down.

Talking to Commercial Motor magazine, RHA  Policy Director Rod McKenzie added, “Members are reporting widespread technical problems relating to the use of onboard SCR diagnostic systems.”

Fixing the problem can cost up to £3,000. In comparison, you can buy an AdBlue emulator on the internet for around £60. The emulator will then trick the vehicle’s diagnostics into thinking that the after treatment system is working correctly. The bad news is, of course, that it allows the vehicle to produce unregulated amounts of NOx.

There are calls for this matter to be discussed in Parliament. In the meantime the DVSA is handing down stiff penalties for operators found to be cheating. Penalties for drivers are a prohibition for the vehicle, and a requirement that it is fixed within 10-days or risk a £300 fine. For ‘O’ licence holders, it can be career defining. A transport operator in the north west  who knowingly fitted illegal emulators to his vehicles, had his firm’s ‘O’ licence revoked along with a prohibition on having it renewed for five years.