Diesel Ram Owner Crushes Truck After State Orders Deleted Emissions Fix
Mike Sebold’s fight with the New Jersey DEP has led to the scrapyard, but it might not end there.
The owner of a diesel 2008 Ram 2500 with deleted emissions equipment who found himself in the crosshairs of New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection crushed his truck Friday after the state ordered him to spend thousands of dollars to bring it back into compliance or scrap it.
After attempting to sell the modified pickup on Facebook Marketplace in June, Mike Sebold was contacted by the DEP with a notice of violation. Selling vehicles with deleted emissions equipment is illegal in New Jersey, and rather than returning the Ram to its stock configuration, he opted to turn in his plates so he could keep it for off-road use. DEP agents then followed up and told him he had two choices—fix it, or scrap it. The truck is now crunched and stacked at a junkyard in Newton, New Jersey.
“[The DEP agent] is definitely going to have his hands full when I go through this again because I’m not gonna stop deleting diesel trucks now," Sebold told me over the phone. "This is going to be like a normal thing for me.”
When I asked if he would make the modifications himself or if he had a shop that would perform them, Sebold replied, “I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. I absolutely promise you the next diesel truck I get, I’m deleting it.”
Sebold says he was quoted more than $10,000 to add components including a diesel particulate filter back to his truck. As a result, he chose to remove it from the road, an option he claims the New Jersey DEP initially OK'd, so he could keep building it up to use it as a sled pull truck in local competitions. That all changed when an agent from the department contacted him saying it would have to be crushed or put back to stock.
Sebold's saga has gained a ton of attention on social media, with reactions split between anger over perceived government overreach and outrage over deleted trucks in general. His initial Facebook post, which has since been shared more than 3,000 times, mentioned the letter sent to him by the New Jersey DEP two months ago. The department gave him a 60-day deadline that ends Sept. 25, and he told me "there’s no way" they were going to give him an extension. As such, he set the appointment to crush the truck nine days early.
A spokesperson for the New Jersey DEP told me earlier this week that they would've awarded Sebold an extension had he agreed to bring his Ram into compliance. "Mr. Sebold has informed the Department that he intends to bring his truck to a scrap yard on Sept. 16 and have it destroyed, although the Department has explained to Mr. Sebold on multiple occasions that the Department would extend the 60-day deadline cited in compliance requirements to give him time to make the necessary repairs to the truck and return it to full New Jersey emissions compliance. These repairs would include returning the vehicle to its original certified emission configuration," the DEP said.
Sebold then sold a list of parts off the truck, but not the engine or transmission. He says strangers have been "non-stop harassing me about it," adding, "I want to be left alone by these people." Countless commenters have suggested that he sell the Ram out of state or give it away, though New Jersey is barring any transfer of the title.
This, paired with the five-figure mechanic bill to add emissions equipment back, is what led Sebold to crush his Cummins.
State governments and, indeed, the feds are cracking down on dirty diesel trucks. Up to now, most of their efforts have focused on aftermarket tuners and parts suppliers. Sebold's case is the clearest and most visible example yet of an individual owner being targeted.
Updated at 5:40 p.m. ET on 09/16/2022: This article now includes quotes from Sebold following his appointment at the junkyard.
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