EPA settles with automobile ‘defeat device’ manufacturers

LENEXA, Kan. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) entered into settlement agreements with three companies to resolve alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act. According to EPA, the companies installed and/or sold illegal “defeat devices” in vehicle engines designed to render emissions controls inoperative.


“Modifying auto emissions impedes federal, state, and local efforts to implement air quality standards that protect public health,” said Wendy Lubbe, acting director, EPA Region 7 Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division. “EPA is committed to enforce the law against businesses involved in these illegal and harmful practices.”


The companies are Banghart Diesel Performance of Wahoo, Nebraska, and Black Widow Diesel of Center Point, Iowa, both diesel repair shops; and Voodoo Diesel, an online retailer based in Raymore, Missouri.

As part of the settlements, all three companies agreed to demolish their inventories of defeat device components and certified that they stopped selling or installing devices that disable vehicle emission controls. The companies will also pay cumulative civil penalties of $86,000.


Tampering with vehicle engines, including installation of aftermarket defeat devices intended to bypass manufacturer emissions controls, results in significantly higher releases of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, both of which contribute to serious public health problems in the United States. These problems include premature mortality, aggravation of respiratory and cardiovascular disease, aggravation of existing asthma, acute respiratory symptoms, chronic bronchitis, and decreased lung function. Numerous studies also link diesel exhaust to increased incidence of lung cancer.


Stopping aftermarket defeat devices for vehicles and engines is a top priority for EPA. The Agency identified this goal as one of six National Compliance Initiatives in 2019. Learn more at: www.epa.gov/enforcement/national-compliance-initiatives.