March 2016 - AKMI Corporation

Monthly Archives: March 2016

The New Right-to-Repair (RTR) Agreement

What Does It Mean to You?

In January of this year, a new Memo of Understanding (MOU) was reached between a number of medium and heavy duty commercial vehicle manufacturers and the Aftermarket providers of vehicle service. This historic agreement applies to the OEM release of all technical information and programming protocols necessary to maintain the emission controls on the vehicles to which it applies.

What this means is that the maintenance of the complex integrated emission controls, such as on-board computers, EGR valves and EGR coolers, exhaust manifolds and piping, diesel particulate filters and selective catalytic reduction systems, are now to be maintained by ANY facility that purchases licenses from the vehicle and engine manufacturers who provide the original components. The agreement applies to medium and heavy duty vehicles over 14,000 GVW and manufactured after 2009. It excludes motor homes and vehicles with off road engines.

The first laws concerning RTR were enacted by the State of Massachusetts. The new MOU is not legally binding, but is an indication of the recognition of the need for freedom of maintenance choices by owners of commercial trucks. It also provides the means by which every heavy duty vehicle will remain emissions compliant throughout its years of service. Below are some examples of the need for constant vigilance for the causes of emission control failure:

In the first photo, the EGR cooler jacket has become clogged with diesel particulate matter (PM or Soot).
In the second photo the EGR cooler has cracked internally and allowed coolant to leak into the entire exhaust system and into the engine oil.
The provisions of the MOU are extensive and very important for the repair facility to understand and apply. They include:

1. The OEs will supply the same information and same limitations that they give to their dealers.
These include:

  • Location of critical sensors.
  • Wiring diagrams.
  • Ability to reflash on-board computers.
  • As-built VIN to OE part number information, often called line settings.
  • Any specialized tools.

2. Licensing at fair and reasonable prices.

3. Light/HD OEs may adopt the existing automotive MOU.

Implementing the RTR requires attention to the makes and models for which licensing should be sought. The licenses are not inexpensive. Secondly, extensive training of expert technicians is required if reprogramming of vehicles is contemplated. Every OE has its own protocol which can be run off of the same PC with common interface cabling as long as the licensed software has been downloaded.

With this momentous agreement, the entire vehicle service industry should now be able to agree on common practices that insure the quality of maintenance required in today’s commercial vehicles.

Diesel Soot, or Particulate Matter (PM)

Ever wonder how diesel soot, also called Particulate Matter or PM, affects your engine’s performance? Ever wonder what components are most vulnerable to soot contamination? Let’s take a look.

Diesel PM output to the atmosphere is now tightly controlled by EPA regulation. As a result of the gradual tightening of the restrictions on PM, the percentage escaping to the atmosphere has been reduced about 90% on diesel trucks since the time the first regulations were instituted. We are now in what is called “Tier 4” of those regulations. There will be more to come, especially in regulating the fine particles that still get through the Diesel Particulate Filter, called DPF, in the exhaust emission controls known as “After treatment”.

As the word “after” is used to describe the newer emission controls, we can see that the soot which is being filtered is still contaminating all of the “before” components upstream of the DPF. These include the Exhaust Gas Regulation (EGR) valve, EGR cooler, the Diesel Oxidation Catalyst (DOC), the exhaust tubing and exhaust manifold connecting to the DPF and the combustion chamber itself. When the soot in the combustion chamber also contaminates the engine oil, the result becomes further damage to the turbocharger bearings. Among the results of all of these are serious and often catastrophic failures of the components, which cause failures in the emission controls and sometimes cause engine shutdown.

Here’s a view of some examples of soot-related failures:

So, what can we do about the effects of diesel soot to prevent engine failures? There are some measures we can take to protect ourselves to at least reduce the impacts, but we can’t stop them altogether. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Match the engine oil change frequency to the engine hours and to the engine drive cycle. Those will be subjects of a forthcoming blog. Revert to oil change frequency based on engine hours, not on mileage. This is one of the most critical measures we can take. Contaminated engine oil will cause turbo bearing seizure and a host of other problems, such as clogged oil coolers and stuck or slow hydraulic fuel injectors.
  2. Use EGR coolers that are designed for high exhaust temperatures and hot/cold extremes in the cooler interior. That means converting to welded stainless steel tubing exhaust channeling, such as now being offered in the Aftermarket. Earlier designs cracked internally and leaked coolant into the entire exhaust system. That results in huge repair bills.
  3. Maintain constant vigilance over the sensors of DPF differential pressure which senses DPF plugging, EGR valve differential pressures which sense EGR valve sticking, and DPF dosing valve condition, which controls the automatic self-cleaning of the DPF. Also watch for high backpressure codes from contaminated exhaust passages and components. Get after them early because the engine is telling us that it’s getting sick and might die if we don’t take remedial action!

Understanding diesel soot and its effects can lead to actions by which we can help ourselves. Without the above preventive actions, we become the victims of PM contamination and can pay enormous bills on a repetitive basis for as long as we’re operating the vehicle.