Maybe you’re old enough to remember when Detroit automakers sent out their first cars with pollution control systems in the early 1970s. The car companies were forced to reduce tailpipe emissions and the car-buying public didn’t exactly meet those first, rather complex systems with overwhelming approval.
The first thing many owners did after getting their new cars home was to rip out the control systems and dump them in the trash. Today, people who like to restore those cars often find it difficult to even locate those parts to restore vehicles back to factory original condition.
Although regulations required automakers to build and deliver cars fitted with those emissions systems, there really wasn’t anything—at least as far as I can remember—preventing their removal. Owners were free to discard them at their leisure.
Today when it comes of off-road equipment, it looks like the situation is similar. During a conversation I had with an executive at an ag dealership chain, he mentioned that he’s seen several advertisements from shops willing to deactivate the emissions control systems on many diesel engines complying with the latest standards. How, he wondered, were these shops getting away with apparently breaking the law by tinkering with mandated emissions equipment?
I had to admit, I didn’t know either, but I decided to check into it. So, I contacted Environment Canada and put that question to them. Eventually, they responded by saying federal regulations only require emissions compliance up to the point of first sale. What happens to them after that is up to the provinces and territories to deal with.
So I contacted each of the three prairie province governments and asked them what their policies were. A couple first wanted to refer me back to the federal government, insisting Ottawa’s rules applied. After I convinced them I’d already been down that road, they agreed to check into things at their level.
For the two out of the three provincial government spokespersons who actually did get back to me, neither could identify any agency within that level of government, not to mention any law, that dealt with emissions systems in ag equipment.
It seems to be a case of déjà vu. Just like back in the ‘70s, manufacturers have to deliver new equipment that complies with federal emissions regulations, but how you tinker with those machines after you buy them is up to—at least as far as anyone in the provincial governments seems to think. And if they don’t know of any rule that says otherwise, I’m sure I don’t either.