California Slaps Ford On The Wrist

Ford Motor Company was fined $2.96 million for sales of non-compliant On-Board Diagnostic systems in California

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) announced yesterday that Ford has agreed to fines totaling $2,960,000 for violations of air quality laws related to the sale of vehicles with non-compliant On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) systems in California.

The ARB said of the $2.96 million, $740,000 will go to the California Pollution Control Financing Authority (CPCFA), which provides financial assistance to projects aimed at reducing pollution and waste and encouraging the use of renewable energy. Funds from this settlement will go to assist small business owners in financing retrofits or upgrades of heavy-duty diesel trucks or buses to meet California’s clean air regulations. Officials estimate the money will support loans for about 90 clean-diesel vehicles.

In jointly announcing the settlement, State Treasurer Bill Lockyer and ARB Emissions Compliance, Automotive Regulations and Science (ECARS) Division Chief Annette Hebert commended the decision to use a portion of these fines to assist truckers.

“This settlement will help reduce pollution by providing much-needed financial assistance to California truckers who need to operate clean diesel vehicles that improve California’s air quality,” said State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, who chairs CPCFA, which administers the clean diesel loan program. ARB’s Chief Hebert added that “while Ford fully cooperated in the resolution of this matter, violations that can directly lead to higher levels of smog-forming pollution are taken very seriously.”

The ARB explained OBD systems constantly monitor critical engine and emission control system operations and alert drivers to problems by turning on the vehicle dashboard “check engine” light. Once a problem is discovered, the system provides technicians detailed information that can be used to quickly and accurately pinpoint malfunctions causing operational problems and excessive pollution from vehicles.

The ARB said routine testing revealed that 2011 and 2012 model year Ford Fiesta vehicles were sold in California with non-compliant diagnostic systems and improperly designed data link connectors. Specifically, these systems were found to not properly monitor the function of several key emissions control systems, including the catalytic converter and fuel system. The data link problems discovered by ARB staff make use of the OBD system more difficult by Smog Check inspectors and independent service providers using widely available diagnostic tools. Staff also found there were several instances of failure by Ford to disclose all legally required vehicle calibration information essential to determining the effectiveness and compliance of the OBD system.

Ford fully cooperated with ARB in the investigation and resolution of this matter and has promptly worked with staff to resolve these non-compliance issues, said ARB. These actions will help ensure that future vehicles are fully compliant with OBD system certification requirements prior to being offered for sale in California.

California law requires manufacturers to certify compliance of all OBD systems prior to offering new vehicles for sale because these systems are a key part of California’s efforts to reduce pollution caused by malfunctioning vehicles, continued ARB. Vehicles operating with faulty emissions control components pose a real health danger to California residents. They create higher amounts of smog-forming pollutants, which can exacerbate respiratory ailments and negatively affect other health conditions.

Per the ARB, in addition to the $740,000 for the CPCFA, $2.22 million dollars will be paid to the California Air Pollution Control Fund, which was established to decrease air pollution through education and the advancement and use of cleaner technologies.