Legal responsibilities for Tuners in the United States of America

Over the last few months several tuning companies have removed their 'race only' diesel products from sale to US customers, prompting numerous enquiries to EFILive about our commitment to the future of diesel tuning. Before we answer, let’s focus on what is happening within the diesel performance industry.

About six years ago when EFILive arrived on the Duramax tuning scene, racers and street trucks were confined to 'box tuners' being stacked with 'fooler boxes' in the hope of making more power. Typically these parts did not integrate well and the results were often trucks with drivability issues and lots of black smoke. Once EFILive hit the market, tuners were able to custom tune the ECM for any hard parts combination. Suddenly the tunes cleaned up, there was no more black smoke and MPG improved out of sight. People could finally have a 600hp truck that didn't fill 4 lanes of the highway with black smoke. Trucks making double the factory horsepower rating could be tuned so clean, people could be forgiven for thinking they weren’t diesel.

In 2007.5 GM introduced the LMM Duramax, this marked a new era of emissions controls that included a Diesel Oxidizing Catalyst (DOC) and Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF). Sure the exhaust was cleaner but it came at a cost. The 'regen' process raises the exhaust temp by injecting fuel very late in the combustion process in an attempt to burn off the excess soot trapped in the DPF. This lead to decreased MPG and restricted power. For the racers that was a problem and they stuck with the earlier (non DPF) models until a good solution could be found.

Outside of the USA (in Australia for example), the diesel fuel commonly available clogs the DPF under towing loads faster than the soot can be burnt off. It is a serious problem when the engine drops into limp mode due to a blocked DPF and strands you literally in the middle of nowhere. The only solution for Duramax truck owners in Australia is to remove the DOC and DPF, then re-tune the ECM to prevent limp mode after those items have been removed. There is also a large Duramax engine conversion market for marine use: nobody wants a red hot DOC and DPF sitting in a boat, so again the DOC and DPF have to go.

EFILive is a New Zealand based company and we sell our product into many international regions. Each region has unique tuning requirements and different regulations, what is legal in one region may not be legal in another. Attempting to know, understand and effectively enforce different regulations and requirements per region in our tuning software is, as far as we can ascertain, technically impossible. It is not EFILive's mandate to enforce tuning compliance any more than a wrench maker is expected to enforce exhaust system compliance. One only has to look as far as the failed DVD region coding to see that electronic, region-specific restrictions are not effective in this Internet enabled world.

At this time EFILive will not be removing any tuning features that are currently available to our customers.

EFILive urges all of our US distributors, resellers, tuners and customers to educate themselves on their local regulatory bodys’ legal requirements for modifying road registered vehicles. Recently the US EPA has made it known that removing the DOC and/or DPF is illegal on any vehicle that is road registered in the US, even if the vehicle is being used on private property.