Skip to main content

In the automotive world, trucks have a unique culture around them. Making modifications is extremely popular, especially if it makes a pickup seem tougher. And one thing that truck owners do could actually be illegal. What is it? The infamous rolling coal. Something that you might have seen, whether you live in a city or a rural area. 

Is it illegal to roll coal?

If you’re a diesel truck driver who likes rolling coal, what you’re doing could be illegal. That is because the EPA has determined that disabling emissions control technology is a violation of the Clean Air Act. 

And although it might be rare for individuals to face consequences from the plumes of exhaust fumes when rolling coal, the EPA has dished out punishments before. Back in 2020, an aftermarket company was actually sued for selling modifications to make conditions right for rolling coal. 

A tail pipe, rolling coal from it could be illegal.
A tail pipe | Matt Cardy via Getty Images

Although to some, doing this might look cool, it can be bad for the environment. According to a study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency, nearly 550,000 diesel trucks have been modified to roll coal. And that has resulted in significant air pollution. 

Rolling coal could get you into trouble

Actually enforcing emissions regulations is kind of murky on a state-by-state basis. Some states do forbid coal rolling, but others have more vague language. Mostly it seems to come down to whether your exhaust fumes obstruct other drivers. So in a lot of cases, it can be up to a police officer whether or not to enforce a ban. 

In some cases, rolling coal could end in you getting a hefty fine. Although it isn’t banned in name, in New Jersey, you can get fined up to $5,000 for the act. Other states might have lesser fines though, it seems like New Jersey is more stringent. 

At the end of the day, though, even if rolling coal doesn’t get you in legal trouble, it can be pretty inconsiderate to other drivers. Especially if you are someone who does it regardless of your surroundings. 

Plus, it gives diesel truck owners a bad name. There’s a good chance that most people in your vicinity when you roll coal just find it obnoxious. But I’m not here to tell you what you can or can’t do with your truck. This is just my personal experience and opinion. Growing up in the country, I’m no stranger to rolling coal. 

Why do some trucks have smoke coming from their exhaust?

It depends, it might be an indicator that something is wrong with the truck, or the driver is doing it on purpose. By eliminating or bypassing emissions controls, diesel truck drivers can get a richer fuel mixture running in their vehicles. 

An SUV with black smoke coming from its exhaust.
Truck exhaust | Universal Images via Getty Images

The end result is thick, black smoke coming from the exhaust. Generally speaking, doing something like this on purpose is illegal. But it doesn’t seem like everyone has gotten the message there.

Related Tesla Model 3 Rolls Coal, Gets Revenge With ‘Exhaust’ Installed

Tesla Model 3 Rolls Coal, Gets Revenge With ‘Exhaust’ Installed