Forget outlawing combustion engines to save the planet - this boy racer 'mod' needs to be tackled first

There are many boy racer fads which beggar belief.

Whether it's lowering a car's suspension to the extent that speed bumps are a no-no, or modifying the engine control unit so it sounds like you've chucked a box of fireworks in your exhaust whenever you lift your foot off the accelerator, none of them make sense to anyone who does have any sense.

In the main; tacky features such as neon lights, over-sized tyres and blacked-out windows don't actually cause much harm. But there's one boy racer modification I came across at the weekend which is as harmful as fitting a coal-fired power station to your bonnet.


My daughter and I decided to treat ourselves to a McDonald's on Sunday. So, on our way home, we made our way to the drive-thru at the services by Junction 4 of the M65.

As we patiently waited in the queue of cars the unmistakeable revving of engines alerted my attention to a convoy of boy racers in front of us.

You can spot them a mile off; windows wound fully down even at the height of winter, music blaring out and with all passenger seats taken up by lads who look like they'd get asked for ID if they went to watch a PG film at the cinema.

As I rolled my eyes and rolled up my own window, I was then left gobsmacked when their exhausts - welded to point out of the side of their cars - began to emit huge plumes of thick, black smoke.

Here's the technical bit (and I thank my favourite Darwen mechanic for explaining this to me). Modifying a diesel engine to emit fuel which has not undergone complete combustion is known as 'rolling coal'.

Apparently there are several ways of doing this: removing the catalytic converter, the diesel particulate filter or fiddling about with the engine control unit. Oh, and for the avoidance of doubt boy racers; it's also completely illegal.

It goes without saying that a car which has been modified to emit toxic and carcinogenic fumes wouldn't pass an MOT.

The law says: "Under the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations (Regulations 61(7) and 61A(3)) and the Road Traffic Act 1988 (Section 42) it is an offence to use on a road a vehicle which has been modified in such a way that it no longer complies with the air pollutant emissions standards it was designed to meet."

The potential penalties are £1,000 for a car and £2,500 for a van, lorry or bus. But the legal ramifications aren't the least of your worries.

The government says: "Making changes to the engine management system in an attempt to increase performance, coupled with the removal of all or part of the emissions control system, may lead to significantly higher levels of harmful exhaust emissions which can then find their way into the vehicle’s interior. Incorrectly fitted parts or unapproved changes to a vehicle can lead to a potentially deadly outcome for vehicle occupants."

At a time when we're all being told of the catastrophic consequences fossil fuels have on the environment, on what planet (not that any they live on would last long with this behaviour) do these idiots think this is acceptable? Or funny? Or attractive?

Boy racers might think it looks good but I can guarantee that they won't be laughing if a police officer witnesses them doing this. It's illegal, it's pathetic and it would probably mean your car gets seized.

Forget being unable to drive over speed bumps - you won't be able to drive anywhere when your precious motor gets crushed.