Left-coast gamble: CARB forces tough yearend decision for many owner-operators

| September 27, 2013


Road rumors were the talk of the summer: On call-in shows, the CB and social media, truckers debated the likelihood of a further delay in the California Air Resources Board’s powertrain upgrade compliance requirements for small fleets and owner-operators. Owner-operators and fleets with three and fewer trucks registered with CARB had been granted a reprieve from compliance with rules to date requiring upgrades of trucks with 1996-2004 model-year engines. That extension runs out at the end of the year, and 2005-06 engines now come into CARB’s upgrade mix.

Analyzing CARB compliance choices: Running in California? Use our interactive tool to determine upgrade options for your 1996-2004 model year engine. Below, find a chart detailing some of the options as well.

“We’ve heard rumblings that there are probably going to be extensions,” reader Donna Klaffky Pullan posted to Overdrive’s Facebook page in August. “What are you hearing?”

Simply, further extensions are not in the offing, says CARB Public Information Officer Karen Caesar. Come Jan. 1, she notes, “the first [particulate matter] filter is now required” for small fleets with 1996-2006 model-year equipment under the upgrade requirements of the agency’s Statewide Truck and Bus Rule. For owner-operators of trucks powered by 1996-2006 model-year engines, this means it’s compliance crunch time if you live in or are running into California on a regular basis.

CARB poll 07/13Strategies for dealing with CARB requirements range from short- to long-term. Shifting freight lanes or continuing to avoid California are the most common options for owner-operators nationwide, according to summer polling. Forty-five percent of Overdrive readers noted they’d either quit running to California (33 percent) or never did in the first place (12 percent).

Owner-operator Bill Taylor’s 2007 Western Star, powered by a 2006 14-liter 515-hp Detroit engine, was leased to FedEx Ground until recently. “They told me I’d have to have my truck CARB-compliant,” Taylor says. He researched his options, working in part with his business services provider, ATBS, and the organization’s maintenance consultant, Bill McClusky.

Nearly four in 10 heavy-duty trucks operated within California this year will be under the CARB Truck and Bus Rule's requirement for upgrade with a diesel particulate filter or replacement at the end of this year, assuming the trucks' engines are the same model year. That's according to data analyzed by RigDig Business Intelligence, a division of Overdrive publisher Randall-Reilly Business Media. The numbers are even more stark when you consider the small fleet population alone. Among carriers operating only one to four trucks, two-thirds of trucks will be affected.

Nearly four in 10 heavy-duty trucks operated within California this year will be under the CARB Truck and Bus Rule’s requirement for upgrade with a diesel particulate filter or replacement at the end of this year, assuming the trucks’ engines are the same model year. That’s according to data analyzed by RigDig Business Intelligence, a division of Overdrive publisher Randall-Reilly Business Media. The numbers are even more stark when you consider the small fleet population alone. Among carriers operating only one to four trucks, two-thirds of trucks will be affected.

Taylor found diesel particulate filter retrofits – putting a particulate matter filter system onto a 1996-2006 model-year engine – to be the least expensive option, even at $15,000 to $16,000. He worked through Ironman Parts, which he calls a “clearinghouse for retrofits,” to come up with an all-inclusive estimate based on his truck specs. “Drop your truck off and two days, three days at most, when you come back, it’s all set to run in California.”

He was considering working with DPF retrofit manufacturer Cleaire, but the company went belly-up following some recalls and fires reportedly caused by a malfunction in its LongMile DPF.

DEFBuying used? Check engine model year closely | If you’re out shopping for a 2007 and later model-year truck in order to continue hauling to California, mind the engine model year of 2007 and 2010 trucks. In used 2007 trucks, there’s a relatively high likelihood the engine model year is 2006 due to the large fleet pre-buy that occurred leading into the exhaust gas recirculation-intensive 2007 emissions specs. Buy a 2007 truck with an ’06 engine, and you’re still not in compliance with CARB requirements come Jan. 1, says Bill McClusky, maintenance consultant for business services provider ATBS.

McClusky’s advice for long-term industry participants – to look for 2010 and later trucks – likewise comes with a caveat given the 2010 transition year. “Make sure that 2010 truck has a diesel exhaust fluid system in it,” he says. If not, the engine model year is probably 2009.

Phoenix- and Las Vegas-based Lightning Logistics, a small fleet with 16 company trucks and about 10 owner-operators, has three fleet trucks serving California and registered with CARB, says co-owner Joe Hammerslough. He kept his truck registrations low to take advantage of the compliance extension for small fleets – which includes a year-by-year upgrade phase-in option – and still run his already-compliant newer trucks in “the biggest U.S. state in terms of freight.”

“There’s a lot of freight out of California,” Hammerslough says. “CARB is having a major effect on long-haul trucks.”

Under the phase-in option, the first of those three registered trucks will have to be upgraded before the beginning of 2014 for Lightning to remain compliant, the next by 2015, the third by 2016.

He describes his thinking: “One of our trucks is a 2005 Peterbilt 387 – it’s worth around $20,000. How do I justify putting $18,000 into the truck [for a DPF retrofit] that won’t increase the performance at all? That’s the issue. So, really, what it comes down to is I have a $20,000 truck with a serviceable life of three or more years that I now have to take out of service.”

Hammerslough’s thoughts echo those of many truckers who see CARB’s rules, unique among other state and federal air-quality regulations, as setting dangerous new precedents by giving operated equipment a premature shelf life. With cars, farm trucks and other equipment, he adds, the general approach in other states has been, “You can drive the old pre-smog vehicle. You can just get rid of it when it runs out of useful life, and it goes away by obsolescence. With trucks, they’ve said, you’ve got to fix your truck or get rid of it.”

The small fleet phase-in option is something of a “sweet spot” for smaller trucking companies in CARB requirements, says Joe Rajkovacz, former owner-operator and now government affairs director at the California Construction Trucking Association.

Download the CCTA’s “Why we fight” statement following their appeal of a federal case against CARB’s emissions regs.

Still, CCTA continues to pursue federal litigation currently on appeal over CARB’s aggressive regulation of the industry. The trucking industry needs to know “if environmental legislation trumps all federal law,” Rajkovacz says. “Buying a truck and keeping it for many years – and in some cases into decades – has always been one of the strengths of small-business trucking.”

The argument made by the CCTA suit is in some ways similar to the one the American Trucking Associations successfully pursued with the Port of Los Angeles’ Clean Trucks Program. ATA objected to the port’s attempt to eliminate the use of independent contractors involved in port drayage. That decision hinged on the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act and its prohibition of state laws or regulations that affect motor carrier prices, routes or services.

The initial decision of the Sacramento circuit court against CCTA was not based on the merits of the argument, in the view of Rajkovacz. Rather, he says, Natural Resources Defense Council lawyers, acting on behalf of CARB, got a somewhat procedural ruling because CCTA hadn’t included the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a target of the lawsuit with CARB: EPA approved CARB’s State Implementation Plan for the Truck and Bus Rule, hence it federalized the rule, CARB/NRDC lawyers argued.

The possibility that the suit will fail on appeal – and the court ultimately will give CARB the go-ahead on the diesel engine restrictions – has watchers like McClusky urging owner-operators to consider the regulations as permanent. “I really believe a lot of these owner-operators are biding their time, hoping something happens that makes this go away,” he says.

The sister truck to this beautiful Lightning Logistics-owned 2001 Kenworth W900 with a 2001 500-hp Caterpillar C15 engine – “sort of our flagship truck,” says co-owner Joe Hammerslough – is spec’d similarly and owned by an owner-operator leased to the company who has family ties in the Bay Area and is paying off a new transmission. “He’s not looking forward to getting rid of his truck” just to run in California.

The sister truck to this beautiful Lightning Logistics-owned 2001 Kenworth W900 with a 2001 500-hp Caterpillar C15 engine – “sort of our flagship truck,” says co-owner Joe Hammerslough – is spec’d similarly and owned by an owner-operator leased to the company who has family ties in the Bay Area and is paying off a new transmission. “He’s not looking forward to getting rid of his truck” just to run in California.

If staying out of California is your strategy, know that it’s something of a gamble in terms of the rest of the country. Under the Clean Air Act, California has special status in relation to EPA: The state holds the right to develop its own more stringent standards, which other states then can adopt or not. As regards clean air laws, “what starts in California ends up running across the United States,” McClusky says. “There are 20-some other states that have expressed their intent to adopt the CARB regulations. … My opinion is it will happen – it could be six months or six years from now.”

Owner-operators planning long-term should get a 2010 or later model-year engine, McClusky says. Those engines push CARB compliance deadlines out as far as they go, and operators gain the benefit of fuel-saving technology.

While 2007-09 model-year engines will keep operators compliant with the Truck and Bus Rule through 2022, “from a fuel mileage perspective, they are some of the worst,” says McClusky. “With 2010 engines and later, all that changed, allowing them much better fuel mileage. If I’m going to be in the industry at least another 10 years, the benefit of having that fuel mileage will be great. If you’re only in it for another three years – maybe jump into a 2007-09 and finish out your time, or make the gamble that other states won’t adopt [CARB regulations].”

McClusky and others, however, acknowledge the difficulty of financing a new truck for owner-operators, and used trucks with 2010 engine technology are hard to come by – and none too cheap. “This whole regulation is driving up prices on [CARB]-compliant trucks,” McClusky says.

Hammerslough says “2010 technology is still in the $70,000 range” for a basic sleeper truck, and as much as $100,000 or more for a premium-spec’d Peterbilt.

Click through the image to use our interactive graphic to determine your options for getting CARB-compliant under the Truck and Bus rule in 2014.

Click through the image to use our interactive graphic to determine your options for getting CARB-compliant under the Truck and Bus rule in 2014.

Read Part 2 in this series, detailing CARB’s emissions-regs enforcement patterns and powers, and more on operational choices.

  • Daniel Kupke

    Thats where it allready is at this point n time in the midwest just east of Effingham ILL on my other property in my building all nice n dry n protected !!! N thank you for the complement !!

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  • Blanca Marquez

    Please don’t do message about if the driver are from other country or born here. If a person drive a truck is, because has residence or permit for drive a TRUCK. The problem is the law about CARB.
    The law are leaving us without work. With the ridiculous law.
    With the poor rate to haul a load, how we are going to buy a new truck or put the filters at the trucks t. Is too expensive. I have 4 old trucks from 99 to 2001 and I don’t know what to do about. I’m very depressed an frustrated thinking what i’m going to do. i don’t have money for that. Now there are anything of work. THAT IS THE BIG PROBLEM. Nobody help or think about us.

  • Quint

    Not as an attack on anyone, but I think some of here pointing fingers at each other racially, ethnically, etc, are missing the whole point. Remember it is the gov’t hurting us all in every way they can. Yes gov’t is needed. I don’t want them “in” my life. That is the reason I and a lot of people move out of their parents house and live life on their own. As Americans we can handle it and get the job done as we always have. People that migrate to this wonderful land catch on to this successful way of life. What ever happen to “Of the people, By the people, for the people”. Take “people” out of that quote and add “government” and maybe that will make more sense as to what is happening before our eyes. A colony of ants works together and it works. Its not about who is better, smarter, wealthier, etc. Its about getting the job done in a manner that works for the entire colony. Government does not function that way. We are loosing our economy and government is not. What is wrong with this picture? Just my 2 cents.

  • TJ Saye

    Quit hauling freight to the Weird coast and let them pay double for their products the left wing tree hugging liberals

  • TJ Saye


  • TJ Saye

    G your a company driver aren’t you

  • johnny dark

    just don’t go to CA.

  • bigred

    LOL,,,You must be Opray`s and Nobummers kid. This is like saying get rid of all the factories that were made before 2010, and I will have you know there isn`t much of the hit and run going on unless you started it,,,GOOD BUDDY

  • Makinmiles

    I bet you cant get a job at my company…Evan so you are a….
    compliant driver

  • Makinmiles

    mike ..you are an idiot same as g

  • 52telecaster

    G is right on the money. All you need to do is go over to Gardner Trucking in Chino, Ca. and watch all the wabs show up. I know because I worked their. I was one of the few caucasian drivers. and by the way, 1/4 Chicasaw Indian too (So go “F” yourself “A”) I’m ashamed to have “A” as a member of my race. As usual, if you speak the truth about Spanish speaking drivers, you are called a racist. Most Spanish speaking Americanized legal Mexicans are ashamed of the illegals and usually don’t speak Spanish in public because they don’t want to be lumped in with these people. It’s a fact. There have been so many cases of arrests of Latino DMV workers in California selling CDL’s to illegals, it’s scary. Google it and you’ll see. If they have a CDL, you’re supposed to be able to speak English. Go and try to talk with drivers from Gardner. Most don’t speak English and those that do are so illiterate and uneducated, it’s amazing. And you can’t make out a word they are saying. Yeah, they’re not taking jobs from Americans…..my ass! Here we go with the “They just want to feed their families” again. If the Mexicans would act like “Americans” like the Korean, Armenian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Italian, Irish, and German immigrants, there would not be so much despisal of them. I went to Driving school with a Vietnamese immigrant who was so happy to be here in America and had to learn English because there are no businesses or agencies that say “press 1 for English and 2 for Vietnamese” like the damn Mexicans get. He took his written test in English unlike the tortilla flippers. Racist? Nope. Just sick and tired of seeing every shipping dock full of Mexican’s as well as the factory workers where I pickup and deliver. Sick of walking into the 7-11 at 5:00pm and seeing every Mexican buying and drinking beer in the parking lot and then driving on the same roads as my kids going home from school. Sick of MS13. Sick of La “Emay” as these pieces of crap call themselves. Sick of cowboy boot wearing cartel drug dealers driving down the street in Cucaracha pickups. Sick of pregnant illegal women delivering babies and not having to pay for it in the same hospital my wife delivered in and I’m still paying. Sick of the schools my kids go to with illegal kids who get free breakfast and lunch and throw it away like it did not cost my fellow taxpayers money. Sick of circus music coming from the house down the street with 13 people living in a 3 bedroom house with cars parked on the grass. Sick of not seeing American flags out in so-called “Latino” neighborhoods. Sick of people who came here by breaking the laws of this great land and then marching in the streets for equal rights. Sick of Mexicans calling caucasians “Gabacho’s, Gringo’s, or “Huero’s” but they get offended when you call them a beaner or wetback. Sick of Mexicans killing innocent black 12 year old school girls sitting on a bus bench waiting for a bus just because she is black and in “Their” Mexican neighborhood that used to be all blacks. Should I keep going?

  • 52telecaster

    You are so right. About two years ago an illegal Mexican (needed to clarify that as there are illegals of all races here) hit a mini van in Mission Viejo Ca. in bumper to bumper traffic killing three infants in the back seat of the mini van. The mother and the grand mother were uninjured. How the hell did this POS manage to get up to 40mph in bumper to bumper traffic in his raggedy ass “Troquero” as the people call them?? They run up and down the L.A. freeways from the ports to Ontario driving like complete a-holes. I see it every day. I finally put a “Gopro” on my dash to record this stuff because it’s getting so crazy out there. At least if I do witness something, I’m turning the video over to CHP so these dicks will get prosecuted and hopefully deported.

  • guest

    Obviously you dont PAY anymoney so AMERICAN WORKERS dont show up for your assinine jobs….go ahead and hire mexicas you Commie dick.

  • g

    Yuuuuk…even worse…you probably despise American Citizens that made this a Civilized Nation…you savage.

  • g

    52 Tele speacks the truth…we are Over Run by criminal foreigners….expect them to run OUR country down into the SEWER where they come from…Cops do NOTHING but watch our country be DESTROYED by criminal invaders.

  • g

    YOU are the good buddy and a total Loser with yer pile of crap truck…you probably have an illegal alien co-driver…..dirtbag.

  • guest

    Hop the HOUND back tijuana….you will be happy there….leave now please take all yer relatives too!.

  • McCurry Trucking

    I work solely in California and only owned one truck a 1988 379 pete daycab with a bigcam 400 with around 180000 miles on complete rebuild, first had injector pump rebuilt at a cost of $600 lost alot of HP then three monthes later ended up selling it to Mexico for $5000 because thanks to California they did a VIN # block so i could not sell it in CA even though she was still good till 2015 but Broker i work for has alot of work out of Port of Stockton and exemptions went away as of first of year so in late Oct early Nov i ended up purchasing a 2010 prostar from UTC in Sac and had it on road two days before the crap Maxxforce engine had to be in the shop for a couple of days for DPF cartridge and injector replacement which was not covered by warranty then two more days on road then high side turbo actuator (covered under warranty and the EGR (also covered) had to be replaced then on road a few more days then check engine light again lost ECM then they fially figured out that wiring harness from ECM had bare wires and fixed that then a few more days on road then another engine light had to replace sensor on DPF. Luckily UTC absorbed all the costs which was around $11000 to repair and extended warranty covered the turbo and egr but upon egr replacement they discovered that egr cooler had been replaced only around 20000 miles prior to me purchasing it and dumbass forgot to install the gasket between cooler and egr. gotts hand it to Riverview International they took real good care of me and UTC was very cooperative but all this shit over CARB regulations and boy do i miss my OL PETE. to top it all off as long as it is registered in Mexico it can still work in California. I hate this state>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  • McCurry Trucking

    P.S. prostar only had 320000 miles on it when i purchased it.

  • McCurry Trucking

    Thats exactly what they are doing. I keep hoping that rates will go up in next six months but sure as heck not going to hold my breath

  • McCurry Trucking

    when i bought my 2010 prostar from UTC in W.Sacramento in this past oct they had taken in 1000 trucks from swift and replaced with brand new 2014 trucks

  • McCurry Trucking

    Washington is adopting Carb rules next year and Nevada is two years and if you can believe this crap Montana in next five years. i did my homework and was going to move to another state but it will be country wide in next 10 years

  • McCurry Trucking

    you sound like a driver and not an owner operator

  • McCurry Trucking

    Not sure what if anything we can do to put a stop to all this and yes i gave in due to fact the work i do is off of a port but not containers, i haul steel pipe rebar and heavy haul but what a scam this regulation is and the whole global warming thing!!!!!!! bullcrap! polar ice caps are as big as ever darn Liberals

  • McCurry Trucking

    One more thing and i will shut up but like it says above keep an eye on engine model year if your purchasing a new or newer truck, i bought 2010 prostar but engine is 2008 (emission) still legal but only till 2023. UTC did disclose that to me before contract was started but some dealerships are failing to advise buyers and also be aware of good deals on low mileage trucks with really good sticker prices because alot of east coast flood victim trucks are making there way here to west coast and they are not disclosing that little tidbit.

  • Vegas 702

    Did anyone from out of state got any citation for it? I’m not talking $300 for idling here..

    Sure if you are CA resident they will not register your “OLD” truck so’you’ll have to upgrade but for all other trucks from different states nothing i going to happen..

    What? a blue Van going to stop you and check your engine year, yeah right… they are not DOT or CHP to stop you and boss you around.

    Scare tactics , that’s all.

    I’m going to drive in /out of CA in my 07 truck utill I see real tickets are being given by DOT or CHP, for “ENGINE YEAR” .

  • david webster

    We have been forced to no longer go there. The rates today do not make it worth it ti buy new trucks. The fed gov. in both Canada and the US. are trying to force the smaller Trucking co.(s). out business. The larger co.(s) will have control just like in the propane business and in the seed business with GMO. seeds

  • ramon

    hahaha im 100% mexican mom and dad from mexico i was born in fresno. i am a ASE diesel mechanic ! now thats a trade my friend, skilled welder is a trade, Driving a truck is like flipping burgers. and Education is a great thing look into it !!

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  • Marvin Thayer

    Caltrans is already compliant and it is a disaster. They have all the their equipment CARB compliant including off road equipment.

  • Oscar Yeager

    The point you are missing is that America was founded by all immigrants yes, but all WHITE immigrants.

    If you’ve ever even bothered to read the constitution, you would know the founding fathers set this country up to be a white nationalist nation.

    Negroes and wagon-burners ( Indians ) were only counted as 3/5 of a ( White ) person every time the census was taken, and didn’t vote.

    Don’t believe it? It’s right there in the constitution. Pick yourself up a little shirt-pocket sized one for a couple of bucks, and read it.

    In many parts of the country, miscegenation ( Cohabitation, sexual relations, marriage, or interbreeding involving persons of different races ) was a hanging offence.

  • dani

    I stay out of california…period.

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  • jay s

    mr scott I m not a Mexican but I respect u sir for your opinion and respect u have for other races and I m also a truck driver

  • Dave Nichols

    Never fear, these drivers you speak of will get oblamo subsidies, free new trucks etc. then they can run even cheaper.

  • Tim

    We have two trucks. A 2006 freightliner with a 14 liter Detroit and a brand new 2016 Volvo 780. With all the filters and crap. It’s getting 8 miles to the gallon religiously. We have a second one ordered to replace the ’06 do we can get our mileage up where we need it. I never thought I would say it but the new Volvo puts my old freightliner to shame. And it rides better is bigger and just all around more comfortable. We only own the two trucks. Have been in busy 10 years and keep steadily growing every year. Our freight rates have never dropped below 2.50 a mile.

  • 10Jeremiah Wenger

    If all the small business and owner ops just walk away from California I’m willing to bet the rest of the country doesn’t jump on the carb band wagon. I’m also willing to bet it would display the power that the little guy has if they stick together. Let the big boxes have California that frees up freight elsewhere. They can’t be everywhere remember they are experiencing a “driver shortage “

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  • Oralia DelaGarza Ornelas

    That stupid way of thinking is why stupid regulations like this one make their way off the shelf and into your pocket book. Wreather you speak english or not, nor if your truck is a 1994 or a 2015 the matter of the fact is, at the end of the day each truck will make the same amont of money just cause you run a 2015 will not change the fact that each truck gets paid the same. And as far as the fuel savings, yet to be seen our 1996 are burning less fuel than our 2009-2014 go figure. and less problamatic. I was born into the trucking industry I have been around it all my life and I love what I do. Trucking iliterally runs thru my veins. My family business currently runs 70+ trucks 300 doubles and the company I am currently employed with for the past 17 years we run over 150+ trucks. I dont care how you try to justify what CARB has implemented, it will not change my opinion, it’s really ironic, they are incompetent of runing their own agency in proper order, yet they are going to mandate on how i need to run my business! One would say this is a very important not to mention expensive regulation, that will affect alot of business owners in California, and CARB neglected to hire a real sientist with a real PHD who was the lead scientist on the report used to determine the health risks diesel PM has towards our health. How in the world can that get overseen? then they act in bad faith just before they voted and witheld the information from the other board members. Look at what is really happening here instead of thinking that this will take care of our language barrier indiffernece that happens in the truck stops you hang out at. Also i failed to mention, both companies I mentioned we are hispanic owned. At the end everyone ends up paying for stupid sensless regulations like this one cause bottom line cost is always passed on to the consumer. So ultimately we all pay when it comes to it. Yet not one life has been taken due to diesel emissions. Yet every day we see how some drunk driver killed someone. Come on people lets get our priorities in order instead we are too busy putting filters on diesel trucks. Also why wasn’t this addressed when they came out with the catalyc converter back in the 70’s. Even then they did not go retro. I can accept ok new regulation should apply to what ever is made from that point on. No this regulation went into effect 2008. In 2009 I purchased 10 new 2010 Utility reefers with TK units, well at the end of this year 2015 i need to replace the engines in order to be CARB compliant. How in the hell do you pass a regulation, but you still don’t have the legal product on the shelf that you can go buy. This is BS but it is what it is cause apparently their isn’t a dam thing that has been done. I’m putting all my hope in that Trump will become our next president and take the bull by the horns and stop all this nonsense.

  • Oralia DelaGarza Ornelas

    It is really funny to hear you rant and rave about illegals, foreigners, citizens bla bla bla. In this world their is 3 kind of people.
    1. those that will tell you what to doYou
    2. those that will be told what they need to do.
    3. those that will only talk all their life.
    it is pretty obvious what category you fall uner “3”

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