CARB registry accepts mismatched model years; OOIDA urges caution

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line staff writer | 1/13/2012

California’s Truck and Bus Rule registry will accept any combination you may have of truck, engine and VIN numbers.

That information, however, could leave a truck owner open to enforcement by CARB, EPA or others should your truck not meet standards of the federal Clean Air Act.

The California Air Resources Board’s Truck and Bus Rule registration system is online, and CARB says about 20,000 trucks have signed up in the last two weeks. Signing up ahead of schedule could allow truck owners to delay certain requirements of the rule, saving a business thousands of dollars or more given the right combination of retrofit or engine upgrade.

The registry is a database used by the California Air Resources Board to keep track of the hundreds of thousands of commercial vehicles that operate in California annually. The Truck and Bus Rule, also known as the “Retrofit Rule,” will require trucking fleets to either install diesel particulate filters or upgrade their trucks.

Truck owners with model year engines that are older than seven years can gain additional time to comply with California’s on-road Truck and Bus Regulation by adding their information to the rule’s registration page.

Registering your information, however, could potentially come back to be enforced against you if your truck has an engine that’s older than the truck and the engine hasn’t been installed by the OEM.

Tony Brasil, chief of CARB’s Heavy Duty Diesel Implementation Branch, told Land Line Magazine CARB’s Truck and Bus registry wasn’t created to cross reference engine and truck model years to enforce other regulations such as the federal Clean Air Act.

According to the EPA, replacement engines must meet or exceed the standards and certifications that the original engine met.

So Land Line asked CARB, if a truck owner submits their truck information to the registry and there is a mismatch between the engine and truck model years, could the information be used against the truck owner for violation of a state or federal regulation?

“I can’t say no. But, that is not the purpose of it,” Brasil said.

“I can’t say that it couldn’t be used for that purpose. But the way our enforcement works, when they find a violation for one matter they will often then check the company for any other violation.”

Brasil said CARB wants truck owners to report their truck information accurately and doesn’t want to discourage anyone from reporting something that might violate a regulation.

CARB understands that OEMs often install a model year engine that doesn’t match the truck because of pre-buys and for other reasons, yet are EPA certified in the original configuration. The agency also said that all combinations of engines and trucks are accepted on the registry.

OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Joe Rajkovacz urged caution for truck owners as they consider repowering their truck with a different engine.

“Replacing the original engine with an older model year engine could be a violation of the Clean Air Act, thus exposing the truck owner to huge fines,” Rajkovacz said.

For truck owners who operate in California and have a fleet of three or fewer trucks, if they report by Jan. 31 they have more flexibility and time to comply with the Truck and Bus Rule, and CARB suggests reporting all trucks that have 1996 to 1999 model year engines.

Despite some confusion in December and early January, CARB leaders told Land Line Magazine last week that the Truck and Bus registry does accept mismatched model years between trucks and engines.

CARB’s Truck and Bus registry also permits rebuilt engines, Brasil said, pointing out that an in-frame rebuild doesn’t change the model year. The registry also doesn’t penalize glider kits, he said, repeating that the regulation is tied to the engine model year and not the truck.

“When you rebuild an engine, you are getting it closer back to the OEM specs,” Brasil said. “If it was malfunctioning, you probably fixed it. Whether it’s rebuilt or not, everything we need to know goes back to the model year of the engine – so we don’t need that (rebuild) information.”

Brasil said truck owners whose engines are seven years old or newer will have no problem with California’s Truck and Bus Regulation.

For more information, CARB asks truck owners to call 1-866-6DIESEL or visit the CARB Truckstop website.

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