Selling Your Diesel Truck on Facebook Could Land You in Legal Trouble

New Jersey is cracking down on modified diesel trucks. And they’re using Facebook to do it. Unsuspecting drivers have listed their modified trucks on Facebook Marketplace expecting an offer and received a fix-it ticket instead.

Why is modifying a diesel truck illegal?

As long as there have been engines, there have been speed enthusiasts modifying those engines. But certain methods of coaxing more power out of a modern diesel require creating more pollution.

Gray Ram heavy-duty truck parked above a city.
2022 Ram 3500 Heavy | Stellantis

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Resourceful engineers have made every generation of internal combustion more efficient and more powerful. Today, automakers must choose to balance power, fuel efficiency, and pollution when designing a diesel engine. Often, improving dramatically in any of these three areas requires making sacrifices in the other two.

Regulators such as the U.S. government have stepped in and set guidelines for exactly how much a new diesel can pollute. Starting with these numbers, automakers build diesel engines that are just as powerful and efficient as possible.

But when diesel engine owners want even more power, it often requires allowing excess pollution. One popular method is removing horsepower-leeching emissions reduction technologies such as the diesel particulate filter (DPF) and the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valve. Diesels with these devices removed are sometimes called “deleted.”

One New Jersey resident felt entrapped

Cummins badge on a gray Ram pickup truck.
2022 Ram Heavy Duty Cummins 6.7-liter I-6 badge | Stellantis

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Mike Sebold is the owner of a Cummins-powered 2008 Ram 2500. Back in June, 2022, he listed his diesel on Facebook Marketplace. He mentioned that the truck was “deleted” and had been since he bought it.

He told The Drive that supposed buyers reached out to ask for details on the “deleted” truck. So Sebold sent detailed photos and videos of his truck running. Then his prospective buyers disappeared. Sebold specified that their Facebook accounts had been completely deleted.

Flakes are not uncommon on Facebook Marketplace, so Sebold did not think much of it until he got an official letter in the mail. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection had flagged his truck on Facebook Marketplace.

Sebold recalled that the state said of his truck, “It’s illegal to sell it, it’s illegal to drive it. I can’t do anything with it other than return the emissions system to stock.

Sebold found himself in a catch-22

A Cummins diesel engine removed from a Ram heavy-duty truck.
Ram Heavy Duty 6.7-liter I-6 Cummins Diesel engine with | Stellantis

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Sebold called the DEP contact and said, “He seemed pretty nice at first.” But when Sebold explained, “I don’t have these [emissions] parts because I bought the truck that way,” his plight did not sway the DEP’s decision.

The state of New Jersey’s policy is as follows:

“When the DEP becomes aware of such a sale or attempted sale, an appropriate enforcement action is issued to the seller or attempted seller, and the person is required to come into compliance with New Jersey regulations,” – New Jersey DEP

Sebold suspects that purchasing the components required to bring his Cummins back to stock would cost $10,000. For this reason, he has pulled his truck off the road and canceled its insurance. His current plan is to scrap its engine and find an emissions-compliant Cummins to put in it instead. When he posted his issue on Facebook, multiple other New Jersey residents commented that they have had the same problem.

Next, find out if you can actually get caught filling your truck with off road diesel.

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