Diesel Retrofit - Frequently Asked Questions

What’s changing?


What is the Diesel Retrofit Requirement?

The B.C. Air Action Plan (www.bcairsmart.ca) released in June 2008, targets the sources of ground ozone and fine particulate matter also known as PM2.5, the two most harmful contributors to air pollution in communities province wide. Action #5 in the B.C. Air Action Plan sets out the diesel retro-fit requirement. Heavy-duty diesel vehicles will be required to be retrofitted with emissions reduction devices. The most common device is a diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC) filter.

Why is this requirement being introduced?

Particulate matter (PM) is one of the most significant air pollution problems in British Columbia. Particulate matter from diesel exhaust is linked to cardiovascular and respiratory hospitalizations, respiratory diseases, chronic obstructive lung disease, chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, heart disease and lung cancer.

According to a report produced by Metro Vancouver, Diesel PM emissions are responsible for serious short-term health impacts and deaths. Diesel PM emissions are also responsible for approximately 67 per cent of the lifetime cancer risk from air pollution in Metro Vancouver. The air pollutant also reduces visibility and contributes to global warming.

Diesel exhaust is classified as a known or probable human carcinogen by various governmental organizations such as the World Health Organization and US Environmental Protection Agency.

When will this requirement take effect?

The requirement will come into effect October 1, 2010. Vehicles must be retrofitted by this date.


Which vehicles?


Which vehicles will be affected?

This requirement will apply to B.C. registered on-road commercial heavy duty diesel vehicles of the model years 1989-1993 that have a licensed gross vehicle weight (GVW) of more than 8,200 kg. There are a few exemptions.

Based on motor vehicle registrations, approximately 4,200 on-road heavy-duty diesel vehicles will be affected.

Why these vehicles?

Emission standards for particulate matter (PM) for heavy-duty diesel vehicles improved significantly in 1994. 

Diesel engine emission standards (g/bhp-h)

Model Year





















(NOx+HC) 2.4


2007 +




Pre-1994 heavy-duty diesel vehicles can emit more than six times the particulate matter of a 1994 to 2006 vehicle, and 60 times the PM of a 2007 or later vehicle.

Diesel engines tend to have long service lives, and older engines contribute to a disproportionately large share of the diesel particulate emissions.

Today, 1989-1993 on-road, heavy-duty diesel vehicles are less than 1 per cent of the total vehicle population, but they still contribute 6.8 per cent of all vehicle engine particulate matter. This is a significant quantity given the proportionately small number of vehicles.  

Why commercially operated vehicles?

The intent of this requirement is to reduce emissions from older heavy-duty diesel vehicles that operate primarily on the streets and highways of British Columbia.

What about trucks imported to B.C. after the regulation is in effect?

Any on-road, heavy-duty diesel vehicle of model year 1989-1993 that is registered in B.C. will be required to be retro-fitted in order to be licensed to operate in British Columbia.

What about pre-1989 vehicles?

Although these older vehicles emit significant amounts of pollutants, verified technologies do not exist for many of them.

It is estimated that there are 3,500 pre-1989, heavy duty diesel vehicles on the road. These vehicles will be declining in number through natural attrition as they reach the end of their useful service lives. It is anticipated that by 2015 there will be fewer than 1000 of these vehicles remaining on the road.

What vehicles will be exempt from the requirement? 

This requirement will not apply to buses, off-road vehicles, emergency vehicles,  X-plated vehicles and farm vehicles with LGVW under 17,300kg. Vehicles that are not subject to regular inspection under the Commercial Vehicle Inspection Program (CVIP) will not be required to be retrofitted under this requirement.

Why are buses being exempt from this requirement?

In June 2007 the Minister of Environment announced that motor coaches would be exempt from this requirement. Many coach buses use 2-stroke engines which are less compatible with retrofit technology. As an alternative to being retrofitted, motor coach fleets are encouraged to participate in Green Fleet B.C., http://www.greenfleetsbc.com.

Transit and school buses are addressed through parallel initiatives under the Air Action Plan. Under Action #6 of the Air Action Plan, BC Transit is working with the provincial government to clean up older transit buses. Under Action #7 of the Air Action Plan, all school-district-owned school buses are being retrofitted with clean technology.

Why are emergency vehicles being exempt from this requirement?

Emergency vehicles will be exempt from this requirement to avoid interruption with emergency services. The provincial ambulance fleet is meeting the intent of this requirement through fleet replacement activities such as purchasing new vehicles with clean engines.

Why are X-plated vehicles being exempted from this requirement?

X-plated vehicles are generally construction equipment such as loaders, pavers and graders that do not travel long distances on highways. They are licensed for minimal road use. Retrofit technology may not be compatible with some of these vehicles.

Why does the requirement apply to vehicles over 8,200 kg licensed gross vehicle weight?

The diesel retrofit will apply to diesel vehicles over 8,200 kg, so that light non-commercial pick-up trucks will be excluded. This requirement is not meant to apply to personal pick-up trucks. Vehicles over 8,200 kg are already subject to annual or semi-annual inspection under the Commercial Vehicle Inspection Program. The retrofit will be inspected when the vehicle is brought in for inspection.

 Why are farm vehicles under 17,300 kg being exempt from this requirement?

These lighter farm vehicles have historically been exempt from commercial vehicle programs such as the Commercial Vehicle Inspection Program (CVIP). They are used for limited on-road operations in rural areas.

How does this affect me?


As an owner/operator of a vehicle that needs to be retrofitted, what do I need to do?

If you are an owner/operator of a vehicle that is required to be retrofitted under this new requirement, it is advised that you contact your mechanic or manufacturer as soon as possible to discuss what retrofit device is compatible with your vehicle. Delivery of the devices can take up to 8 weeks. You will need to ensure your vehicle is in compliance with the requirement when it comes into effect on October 1, 2010.

Acceptable devices are verified from the US Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resource Board which are posted on their websites:

What type of emission reduction technology will be required?

Diesel emissions reduction technologies that are verified by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or/and California Air Resource Board (CARB) are listed on their websites will fulfill this requirement:

 The most cost-effective option is a diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC) filter. These devices are easily installed on the exhaust pipe, do not affect the fuel economy of the vehicle and require little or no maintenance. They reduce Particulate Matter (PM) emissions by 20-50% and hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide by 40-90%. They are most effective when used with ultra-low sulphur diesel fuel.

Validated technologies that provide higher reductions in emissions are encouraged, however it is recognized that the more effective options may involve greater expense, and possibly greater maintenance.

How much do these devices cost?

Retrofits will cost vehicle owners approximately $1,200 - $2,500 per vehicle. The cost will vary for reasons including:

Vehicle owners should contact the manufacturer of their vehicle or their mechanic for the cost of a compatible device and installation.

How do I know what kind of device is compatible with my vehicle?

Check with the vehicle manufacturer and your mechanic about compatibility concerns before your CVIP has expired. The websites below have information about which devices to use:

Will my mechanic know how to install the device?

Yes. These devices are produced by manufacturers of parts. Devices will come with a manual instruction for installation that can be put in by a licensed mechanic.

Do the retrofit devices require maintenance?

The most common types of devices, diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC), require little or no maintenance. The maintenance requirements for other types of devices, such as diesel particulate filters may vary depending on type of device. It is advised that owners discuss maintenance issues with their mechanic.

How long does it take for a retrofit device to be installed?

The installation time will vary depending on the device being installed. Diesel oxidation catalysts, the most common type of device, will take a minimum of one hour to install and can take up to four hours. Diesel particulate filters can take a few hours up to 2 days.

The devices can take up to 8 weeks to arrive once ordered. It is advised that vehicle owners speak with their mechanic and order a device as soon as possible. 

What is the expected lifespan of the retrofit devices?

Diesel oxidation catalysts are passive devices, and would be expected to last as long as the vehicle.

I have not installed an emission reduction device yet because my CVIP has not expired, what will happen if I get pulled over by police or a peace officer?

Following the effective date of this requirement (October 1, 2010), if your vehicle is not retrofitted and is required to be, you could be stopped by roadside CVSE enforcement or police and issued a notice and order to report for inspection, or issued a fine.

My vehicle is between 1989-1993 but my engine is 1994 or newer. Do I have to have my vehicle retrofitted?

If an engine model is newer then 1989-1993, it is not required to be retrofitted.

What companies manufacture approved devices?

There are a number of manufacturers of diesel emission reduction devices. Approved devices can be found on the following websites:

As an Authorized Inspector or mechanic, what do I need to do?

It is advised that you familiarize yourself with the various types of devices that will need to be installed on customers’ vehicles.   You will have to ensure that the devices are correctly installed on the required vehicles and that all applicable inspection criteria and regulatory requirements are met prior to issuing a certificate of approval for the vehicle.

As an operator of a Designated Inspection Facility (DIF), what do I need to do?

The DIF operator is responsible for the inspections submitted by his facility. It is important that the vehicles requiring the diesel retrofit are identified and that the inspection is conducted in accordance with regulatory requirements. It is also advised that DIF operators be familiar with the various types of devices and installation practices.

How does it affect out-of-province trucks?

The diesel retrofit requirement will apply to commercial vehicles registered in B.C. Out-of-province vehicles will not be subject to the diesel retrofit requirement.

What is the impact on emissions?


Is the use of bio-diesel or fuel additives an alternative to this requirement?

The use of bio-diesel and fuel additives will not fulfill this requirement alone. Bio-diesel and fuel additives can be used with retrofit technology to further reduce particulate matter and other emissions. As stated in the B.C. Energy Plan, B.C. will implement a 5 per cent average renewable fuel standard for diesel by 2010.

Will diesel retrofits reduce GHG emissions?

The most common devices are Diesel Oxidation Catalyst (DOC) which are passive devices that do not affect fuel economy. They will not reduce GHG emissions, nor will they increase them. The intent of this initiative is to improve the air quality and the health of British Columbians and their communities.

The province has several programs committed to reducing GHG from commercial vehicles in British Columbia such as: low carbon renewable fuel standards, Weight2GoB.C. (WIM), idle reduction campaign and truck stop electrification.

By how much will particulate matter from on-road heavy duty diesel vehicles be reduced?

There will be a reduction of 30 to 60 tonnes of particulate matter emissions from on-road heavy-duty diesel vehicles. This is equivalent to permanently removing at least 1,000 heavy-duty vehicles from the road.

What is the difference between the retrofit requirement and the Air Care on Road Program?

Air Care On Road (ACOR) is a mobile inspection program operated by the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. Teams of certified ACOR inspectors run roadside tests of heavy-duty diesel vehicles, looking for excessive smoke emissions. If a vehicle is inspected by an ACOR inspector and it is determined that the vehicle does not meet emissions standards, it may be required to be repaired and retested, and the owner may be ticketed.

Both programs target air quality; however, the diesel retrofit requirement requires a diesel emission reduction device to be installed on specified heavy-duty diesel vehicles of the model years 1989-1993.
What are other jurisdictions doing?

Has any other Canadian jurisdiction implemented these measures?

B.C. is the first province or territory in Canada to make retro-fit technology mandatory for on-road, heavy-duty diesel vehicles.

Metro Vancouver is developing a Diesel Emission Reduction Program aimed at reducing particulate emissions for non-road vehicles. Further information can be found at: http://www.metrovancouver.org/services/permits/DieselEmissions/

Will B.C. be the first jurisdiction in North America to implement a diesel retrofit requirement?

When B.C.’s requirement comes into effect in October 1, 2010, the Province will be the first jurisdiction in Canada to require retrofits on heavy-duty, on-road diesel vehicles. Other jurisdictions have introduced similar requirements or voluntary programs:

Is this consistent with the B.C.-Alberta Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA)?

Yes, TILMA requires B.C. and Alberta to work towards enhancing environmental protection and health standards. Alberta has been advised of this requirement and does not have a similar requirement, however, environmental and human health measures are legitimate objectives to TILMA. This measure is consistent with the intent of TILMA. Environmental measures need to be genuine to their intent and not impose any competitive advantage to either jurisdiction. Diesel retrofit devices can be purchased in any jurisdiction.

Will it impede competitiveness?

This requirement will not have a significant effect on the competitiveness of B.C.’s commercial trucking sector. It will draw attention to B.C. as a leader in environmental initiatives. This new requirement will improve air quality across the province and ease pressures on our health care system. A cleaner environment and healthier population will aid competitiveness.

Industry Involvement


Was industry involved in the development of this requirement?

Yes, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure held meetings with industry representatives to gather information on the best strategies for implementing the regulatory change and on advising the industry of the change.

Further Information


Will information about this requirement be available in any other languages?

Yes, a translation of information is available in Punjabi and Simplified Chinese, please visit CVSE Diesel Retrofit.

Where can I find further information about this initiative?