Law & Order


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is investigating sales of “MIL eliminator devices” which can turn off the check engine light when O2 sensor readings are not operating properly.   Both the EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) have been more aggressive in recent years in removing such products from the marketplace since they can easily be used on the highway but are usually advertised for “off-road use” or “racing-use only.”  These items are commonly referred to as “defeat devices” since they can render inoperative a portion of the emissions control system.   Manufacturers, distributors and retailers of MIL eliminator devices could face charges of violating the Clean Air Act.   The agency has authority to seize and destroy these products and issue fines.

Subsection (B) of 42 USC Sec. 7522 (1990 Clean Air Act Amendments) makes it illegal:
“(B) for any person to manufacture or sell, or offer to sell, or install, any part or component intended for use with, or as part of, any motor vehicle or motor vehicle engine, where a principal effect of the part or component is to bypass, defeat, or render inoperative any device or element of design installed on or in a motor vehicle or motor vehicle engine in compliance with regulations under this subchapter, and where the person knows or should know that such part or component is being offered for sale or installed for such use or put to such use;”

To pursue a claim that there is a legitimate need for a device covered by this law in off-road racing, one would have to demonstrate what purpose it would serve and how it would be restricted to racing activities only.  For additional information on this topic, see “Off Road Use Only - Basics of the Motorsports Exemption:” Questions about the EPA investigation may be directed to Stuart Gosswein at