Smoke Responsibly

Blowing Black Smoke is Harming the Industry


This article is not about the environmental impacts of diesel exhaust. In fact, if you make it to the bottom, you'll realize that we believe in relaxed diesel emission regulations. The fact of the matter is that the ability to make a diesel truck billow clouds of dark, black smoke is often abused. For its entertainment value, the article “How to Blow Black Smoke” was published at We felt it was a necessary follow up to help diesel owners understand the widespread negative impacts of altering a truck to smoke excessively.


Black Smoke - What it Means

Excessive smoke indicates a rich air-to-fuel ratio. That is, you do not have the airflow to match the amount of fuel entering the cylinders and the mixture is not stoichiometrically correct. For street driven trucks, it is simply a sign that you need more air delivery to take advantage of the fuel available. A well balanced performance setup should match fuel and airflow for a virtually smoke free exhaust stream under full load. Considering that excessive smoke can cause exhaust gas temperatures (EGTs) to spike into the danger zone, a truck that billows smoke is less capable/useful as one that can keep the exhaust clean under full load.


Particulate Emissions are a Root Cause of Stricter Federal Emissions Regulations

We all complain when Ford, GM, and Chrysler introduce new emissions components on their trucks. EGR systems reduce performance and can be problematic. Diesel particulate filters (DPF) killed fuel economy and continue to send trucks to the shop for expensive replacements. And the latest SCR systems (urea injection) increase operating costs and complicate an already complex power train. Not to mention, all these components are expensive, and that cost is transferred to truck buyers. While there are many factors, both scientific and political, that have led to stricter emissions regulations of diesel engines, purposely modifying a truck to emit clouds of soot is certainly a root cause. Elected political figures are behind initiatives that require automakers to reduce diesel emissions. When the public, who may or may not understand the benefits of the diesel cycle, see mass amounts of particulates being emitted by diesel powered trucks they are obviously going to be dissatisfied. And lets not forget that diesel emission regulations affect the entire infrastructure of our nation. The EPA is not just cracking down on light duty diesel powered pickups, medium and heavy duty trucks are also under attack. The hard working men and women who keep the shelves of your local stores stocked with goods are facing increased operating costs, and this has been especially difficult on owner operators. Many ports are imposing age restrictions on certain trucks, denying older tractors entrance into key shipping centers. Smaller businesses are finding it difficult to remain competitive in the trucking industry, since they do not have the capital to meet restrictions or purchase new trucks like larger fleets do. And don't forget that increased operating costs for truckers translates into increased prices for consumers. While the abuse of performance products is not the sole reason that diesel emissions continue to become stricter, it is certainly not helping our case as diesel owners who want to take full advantage of the efficiency of our trucks . Still waiting for a half ton diesel? Strict emissions regulations have created a huge hurdle for automakers.


Crackdown on the Aftermarket

Ever noticed that many performance products come with a “Off-road use only” disclaimer? EGR and DPF delete kits, for example, are not street legal. If owners continue to abuse the use of performance items for the sole purpose of rolling coal through town, a crackdown on these components by the EPA is inevitable. It ultimately becomes the responsibility of diesel owners not to abuse the availability of such items. Edge and Superchips, two major manufacturers of tuning devices for diesel pickups, seem to have voluntarily removed all there “Racing Products” from their lineup. We speculate that these companies received criticism and/or warnings from regulators, but we have been unable to confirm this from a reliable source. Their announcement states that “Unfortunately, we believe a portion of dealers and consumers are exploiting the intended use of these products which has a negative impact on the future of this industry”. We support all that the aftermarket has to offer, and believe that it is the responsibility of owners to use these products in a manner that does not damage the reputation of diesel technology. There are a variety of products available that should not be used on the street, but we don't want to see performance companies receiving flak for abuse. After all, we are huge diesel performance enthusiasts and only hope for this sector to grow.


Diesel Soot is Officially a Carcinogen

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on June 12th, 2012 that they now classify diesel exhaust as a known carcinogen (previously classified as a probable carcinogen). Sufficient evidence was provided by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to prove that diesel exhaust exposure can cause lung cancer. This makes it even more important that owners “smoke responsibly”, if not for health reasons, but for the sake of not giving regulators anymore ammunition during the next round of emissions discussions. Many videos of diesel owners blowing smoke on bystanders or in open car windows have become popular on You Tube. These are the sort of irresponsible actions that negatively impact our industry and give diesels a poor reputation within the public eye.


This article is not an attempt to convince you not to modify your diesel. In fact, we are huge enthusiasts and supporters of diesel performance, and do not want this industry to be further impacted. Furthermore, we'd like to see relaxed emissions regulations for all classes of diesel trucks. We would also like to see more engines modified in a manner that limits soot emissions – selecting the proper components and tuning should result in minimal smoke. The fueling characteristics of a street driven diesel should be limited by the amount of airflow available, and not based on how much smoke that can be produced. Coal rolls are like burnouts – you don't do it at every stoplight, but when you hit the race track, let er' rip.



















































































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