The Mythical Off-Road Exemption: It Doesn’t Exist in the Clean Air Act

In recent years, the popularity of racing, both off-road and on the racetrack, has exploded in the United States. This $5 billion per year industry is a testament to our country’s long standing passion for the automobile. Thousands of aftermarket manufacturers feed that passion with performance parts that help a car race better on the track or go off-road. 

There’s a prevalent myth in the automotive aftermarket that if a car is not going to be racing on a track and is instead destined for off-road racing, the Clean Air Act does not apply. However, this is absolutely not the case. You need not be on pavement for the Clean Air Act to be relevant to you and your vehicle. When your company is producing parts for modifying vehicles, you cannot use a disclaimer saying “Intended for off-road use only,” to get around this law.  

In the condition that they come off the line, vehicles are approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Clean Air Act makes it unlawful to modify the certified emissions system of a vehicle. For example, many companies produce delete kits, which delete the emissions control, causing nitrous oxide to build up in the vehicle. This makes the vehicle more efficient, but more pollutive.

Ultimately all car parts have to comply with California Motor Vehicle Act as well as the Clean Air Act. Aftermarket manufacturers who make products that modify emissions systems can face a potential fine of up to $20,000 dollars per sale. All together, some companies have been hit with $1-10 million dollar fines. The EPA has been enforcing these laws quite rigidly in the last ten years in particular, and even more stringent monitoring could be on the horizon. 

If you manufacture aftermarket auto parts, it is extremely important that you comply with state and federal laws. Failing to do so can have disastrous consequences for your company. The Aftermarket Law has spent years learning about the ins and outs of this industry and the laws that apply to it. We have the vast knowledge and experience to help your business take the necessary measures to protect itself and its products. In addition to compliance matters, we can also help you protect your intellectual property from competitors, assist in employment matters, and defend you against damaging claims by consumers. To learn more about how Aftermarket Law can help your business, contact us today!

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