EPA cracks down on Pa. company for selling auto parts that avoid pollution controls with $2.5 million penalty

Philadelphia PA (9/1/2022) – Keystone Automotive, a vehicle parts distributor with headquarters in Exeter, Pennsylvania, will pay a $2.5 million penalty for allegedly selling aftermarket devices that were designed to defeat the emissions control systems on cars and trucks, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency announced today.

The company’s actions allegedly violated the Clean Air Act’s prohibition on the sale of so-called “defeat devices,” which are designed to “bypass, defeat or render inoperative” a motor vehicle engine’s air pollution control equipment or systems.

This enforcement action is part of EPA’s National Compliance Initiative for Stopping Aftermarket Defeat Devices for Vehicles and Engines. The Keystone settlement, at $2.5 million, is the third largest civil penalty settlement nationwide for aftermarket defeat device cases.

Today’s vehicles emit far less pollution than vehicles of the past. This is made possible by careful engine calibrations, and the use of filters and catalysts in the exhaust system. Aftermarket defeat devices undo this progress and pollute the air we breathe. EPA testing has shown that a vehicle’s emissions can increase drastically (tens or hundreds of times, depending on the pollutant) when its emissions controls are removed.

“The EPA will not tolerate violations like this,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz. “This settlement will also send a message that we will crack down on companies selling illegal products that make our air quality and health worse.”

According to the company’s website, Keystone is “the leading distributer and marketer of aftermarket automotive equipment and accessories in North America” and has “grown from a single auto parts store to become the largest warehouse distributor” in the industry. Overall, the company was cited for 15,621 violations.

When installed on motor vehicles, the 44 types of aftermarket automotive parts sold by Keystone created a potential harm to human health by defeating controls on emissions of particulate matter and ozone which are linked to a number of health effects as well as premature death.

The practice of tampering with vehicles by installing defeat devices can enable large emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter, both of which contribute to serious health problems in the United States. These include premature mortality, aggravation of respiratory and cardiovascular disease, aggravation of existing asthma, acute respiratory symptoms, chronic bronchitis, and decreased lung function.

Respiratory issues like these disproportionately affect families, especially children, living in underserved communities overburdened by pollution. Emissions of NOx and particulate matter may also have harmful effects on sensitive vegetation and ecosystems.

 For more information on this initiative, visit: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/national-compliance-initiative-stopping-aftermarket-defeat-devices-vehicles-and-engines .

Contact Information: EPA Region 3 Press Office (R3press@epa.gov)