Two Sheffield mechanics have been given a 2 year testing ban after the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) found that they were selling a diesel particulate filter (DPF) removal service.
DPF Solutions Sheffield Limited removed the filters from cars intended to be driven on Britain’s roads, posing a clear threat to air quality and public health. The DVSA investigation also uncovered ‘sister company’, MB Services Yorkshire, advertising the service.
MB Services Yorkshire’s owner Mark Brace (54) claimed that the firms were unconnected but the investigation revealed that the two firms shared the same address and some of the same staff and shareholders. This included Mr Brace’s sons, Ricky (33) and Ross Brace (31). The two companies regularly ‘recommended’ each other on social media, boasting that their DPF removal services were “MOT friendly” and “hard to notice”.
Garages and testing stations have had to check for a diesel particulate filter in the inspection of the exhaust system as part of the MOT test (or annual test for heavy vehicles) since February 2014. The filter works by trapping solid particulate matter from exhaust gases. This type of filter has been in use for more than 20 years and helps meet European emissions standards, improving air quality and health.
Some firms offer services to remove the filter, claiming it will improve the vehicle’s performance, or is cheaper than replacing the current DPF. But it is an offence to drive a vehicle that has been modified this way, as it will no longer meet the emissions standards the car achieved when it was approved for sale in the UK.
In 2014, DVSA formally notified MOT garages that if they offered a DPF removal service the agency would consider that this brought the MOT Scheme into disrepute.
As a result of the investigation Ricky and Ross Brace’s authorisation to conduct MOTs has been removed for 2 years and Mark Brace’s by 28 days.
DVSA Chief Executive, Gareth Llewellyn, said:
“DVSA’s priority is helping you keep your vehicle safe to drive. We take the quality of MOT testing extremely seriously, have carried out almost 10,000 visits, assessments and re-examinations and continue to work with the industry to improve test quality.
“We’ll withdraw the right to provide MOTs, and even prosecute garages who fail to meet the required standards, including those who pose a risk to air quality by removing DPFs or installing other emissions ‘cheat’ devices.”
Last year (2016/17) 761 warnings or disqualifications were issued to MOT garage or testers who carried out improper tests that endanger road users.
Stopping MOT garages from removing diesel particulate filters is one of a number of measures DVSA is taking to support the government’s strategy to improve air quality. From August this year the agency has been including emissions cheat devices in the roadside checks it conducts on lorries in Britain’s roads.