Valentine from CA: Engine emission labels required after Feb. 14

| 1/11/2008

The California Air Resources Board has left the truckers headed to California a Valentine that won’t endear the environmental agency to the trucking community.

Beginning on Feb. 15, California will require every truck traveling in the state to have “Engine Emission Certification” labels as part of the Golden State’s roadside inspection program. Drivers whose trucks don’t have the labels will risk facing fines up to $300 immediately and $500 if “proof of repair” isn’t provided within 45 days.

CARB spokeswoman Karen Caesar confirmed for Land Line that the rule would be enforced.

The labels are created by the engine manufacturers only. Kenworth trucks with Cummins engines have had the labels affixed for years, Jeff Sass, a spokesman for Kenworth, told Land Line on Thursday, Jan. 10.

Roger Gault, technical director with the OEM-backed Engine Manufacturers Association, said OEMs are waiting to see how many service calls California’s new rule generates at truck dealerships.

Most engine labels are probably still on truck engines, Gault said, although older trucks, especially with rebuilt engines, may have problems.

“When you start thinking about a product that’s 20 years old, a 1988, it may or may not still have its emission control label for a variety of reasons,” Gault said. “The labels are ‘permanent,’ but over the course of time,’ it may not have an engine label at all.”

If too many drivers are cited, OEMs and their association will hear about it, Gault said.

“When somebody shows up at one of our dealerships with a pink slip in hand saying, ‘hey, I need this emission control label in hand or I can’t go anywhere,’ dealers need to be able to get that information,” Gault said.

The Engine Manufacturers Association works often with CARB on truck issues. The manufacturers’ group has heard from many independent service companies and mechanics concerned that they won’t be able to legally rebuild engines for trucks entering California, because they don’t have an emission label recognized by CARB.

“That’s creating a stir in the rebuild business,” Gault said. “We’re trying to work through all of these issues with ARB as the enforcement of this rule begins.”

Gault said that barring a rebuild, most truckers won’t have a problem keeping the labels on.

Most OEMs began affixing the engine labels during the 1970s, Gault said, and many labels are metal plated, and are glued or riveted to the engine.

“They’re pretty robust,” Gault said. “Engine manufacturers historically have realized that it’s very important – not just for emissions compliance – but really for the serviceability of the product.”

It’s possible that CARB’s label requirement may not help the environment. Several older engines may well have the label in place, Gault said, although they’re old enough and include enough replaced parts that they’re emitting high levels of greenhouse gases.

“There’s a lot of pretty old engines that are still running around,” he said, “whether they are in California or anywhere else.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer