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California ARB fines Ford $2.96 million for sales of non-compliant On-Board Diagnostic systems in California

1 May 2014

The California Air Resources Board announced that Ford Motor Company 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.

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.

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.

Routine ARB 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. 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.

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.

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.

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