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The Environmental Protection Agency announced settlements with a series of companies, including one in WA and one in OR, concerning selling what are called defeat devices for vehicles.

Defeat Devices are illegal

The pollution control or emissions equipment and computerized programs on your vehicle can noticeably restrict its performance, even mileage in some instances. For years the EPA and car 'tuners' have battled over devices designed to reduce or bypass pollution control efforts.

The EPA says Competiton Specialties Inc. of Auburn, WA, and Diamond Eye Manufacturing of Athena, OR both agreed to pay fines to settle charges they sold defeat devices to consumers.

A defeat device is complicated but the premise is simple. It's usually only used on vehicles in counties where there are annual emissions testing. In many metro areas, you have to pass an emissions test before you can renew your tabs. They stick a sensor tube in the exhaust pipe and you have to run at a higher RPM for a short time.

Defeat devices, according to sources, can discern when a vehicle is being 'tested' and it allows the system to properly work. However, the software can 'sense' when a vehicle is actually being driven on a road (moving) and it bypasses emissions restrictions in favor of mileage and performance (speed).   It is believed many drivers who have those performance or 'tuner' cars utilize defeat devices.

While it's not a felony, if a defeat device is found on a vehicle the owner can face civil penalties. Using a defeat device is considered a violation of the Clean Air Act.

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A number of years ago, in 2015, Volkswagen ran afoul of US authorities when it was discovered that some of their higher-performance cars would not pass our emissions standards, so they were fitted with defeat device software.

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