…and this is the lighter fine from an original $180,000
Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency fined Fort Lupton, Colorado-based tuning shop PFI Speed $18,000 after an investigation revealed they sold (37) Hondata S300 OBD1 add-on ECU engine modules.
In a video posted up shortly after receiving the letter and as evidenced by screenshots of the letter posted later, owner and operator Brent Leivestad explained the EPA used an expedited settlement agreement, levying a much lighter fine. In the letter, posted below, it explains how the EPA could, if Leivestad does not address the issues brought up, fine PFI Speed $4,876 per violation or $180,412.
And according to their latest update, PFI Speed has decided to lawyer up, presumably refusing to pay the fine outright, in order to maintain their primary source of income, tuning cars. As stipulated in the expedited agreement, paying the fine also means PFI Speed agrees to no longer, “remove nor render inoperative any elements of the design of an OBD System.” That includes the manufacture and selling of these so-called emissions cheating devices. Paying the fine would essentially end PFI Speed’s ability to help customers seeking a proper tune after engine modifications, often forced induction.
According to Leivestad,
“Our goal is to fight this tooth and nail, to do everything we can to set the standard, we will not give in. This is our life, our sport, our passion. This is not to pay the fine, this is for lawyers, this is so we can fight back and hopefully make a change for everyone.”
As of this writing, PFI Speed still has several engine management solutions, like Hondata’s S300 and K-Pro, up for sale on their website.
While the EPA has always fought against violators of the Clean Air Act of 1970 with fines and recommended actions to bring them up to compliance, National Compliance Initiatives set into place (by the Trump administration) last year specifically targets, “Stopping Aftermarket Defeat Devices for Vehicles and Engines.”
In the linked NCI above, the EPA spells out how they are going after violaters of Title II of the Clean Air Act, citing that “the CAA prohibits tampering with emissions controls, as well as manufacturing, selling, and installing aftermarket devices intended to defeat those controls.” Simply put, if an aftermarket flash-type device, add-on module or similar messes with an OEM’s original ECU configuration in a way that affects emissions (often increasing emissions) directly violates the Clean Air Act.
Further spelled out here, the EPA goes onto say how many shops, presumably like PFI Speed, claim these devices are sold to individuals to be used for its intended purposes of “Competition use only” but,
.”..companies that make and sell aftermarket defeat devices claim “competition only” use but cannot provide any information to show that their products are used solely in competition motorsports.”
PFI Speed is certainly not the first tuner singled out by the EPA but they are one of the smaller ones. As per the NCI, the EPA seemed to only target larger resellers of diesel flash tuners and diesel tuning shops but that’s not the case.
While PFI Speed works out their legal defense and mounts their own legal proceedings, their predicament should be a cautionary tale to tuners and sellers of any emission-related parts, specifically flash tuners, standalone engine management systems, and ECU piggy-back modules, if they can’t provide reasonable evidence proving their customers will use those “emissions cheating devices” for competition or off-road use only.
Here’s a sample of ECU tuning devices the EPA went after fining Evans Tuning back in 2018.
I’m curious to see how this all plays out and will keep you in the loop as the updates come.