Safety Charity Warns Common Modifications Risking Lives
Garages Illegally Removing Diesel Particulate Filters
The Institute of Advanced Motorists has claimed that “quick fix” vehicle modifications could cost lives. The road safety charity is particularly concerned by three common changes: the removal of the diesel particulate filter, fitting xenon headlights and reprogramming/chipping the electronic control unit. A motorist might remove his/her filter as it could prove troublesome and expensive. Risk of failure increases if the car tends to be driven in town as this can prevent the filter reaching the necessary temperature to self-clean. Motorway speeds tend to be more beneficial. A filter reduces the pollutants that emerge from the exhaust so it must be present if originally fitted (by law). Some garages, however, will remove it even though – as of January 2014 – this should lead to MOT failure. The Institute of Advanced Motorists Head of Technical Policy, Tim Shallcross, said that removal: “isn’t a task that can be done accidentally as it involves reprogramming the engine management computer.” He continued: “Unscrupulous traders still offer to cut the case open from the top of the unit, remove the filter, and weld it shut in an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the tester to achieve an MOT pass.” Shallcross added: “They are selling a service that's killing people”.
Xenon Headlamp Conversions And Chipping Cause Concern
The Institute of Advanced Motorists is concerned about xenon headlamp conversions too. This arrangement can – according to the road safety charity - “dazzle oncoming traffic” as it lacks the self-levelling function. This could cause an accident which is a hefty price for having fashionable lights. Mr Shallcross said: “Fitting this kind of lighting is illegal” and emphasised that: “claiming ignorance of the law is no excuse”. Finally reprogramming a vehicle's electronic control unit is a popular modification that can increase performance. It typically involves plugging a laptop into the diagnostics port then uploading software to adjust the fuelling, drive-by-wire throttle response, turbo control, engine load and torque limiters. However, Shallcross stressed that: “No after market warranty company will offer to cover a car that has been chipped.” Furthermore: “If you don’t tell you insurer it is likely to invalidate your policy but - if you do tell your insurer - he could refuse to cover your car or could demand a hefty increase to your premium.” It could also devalue the car and make it harder to sell. Best leave it alone, ey?