The fact that all kinds of AdBlue emulators are forbidden in virtually all European countries is common knowledge. However, recently in France, one of my fellow drivers was stopped for control. Everything was going smoothly and the officer was friendly. Unfortunately, at the very end of the inspection – he looked into the truck cab and spotted a device lying on the shelf with the OBD II diagnostic connector.
I will add: it was not an AdBlue emulator – just an ordinary device enabling independent diagnostics and reading engine error codes. And deleting them. The device was lying loose in the cabin, it wasn’t connected.
Initially, I could not believe it – I myself have a device like this in my personal car, which, when plugged into the OBD II connector, connects via Bluetooth to the phone. I traveled with it to France and kept it in my map pocket! It’s such a small gadget, but useful. With the help of a free phone app (e.g. Torque Lite) we can read in real time many parameters of the engine operation, to which we normally do not have access. For example, the temperature of the coolant in degrees Celsius, the fuel pressure on the injection rail, the temperature of the air at the inlet to the engine, combustion per hour, the operation of the lambda probe, and in some cases even the operation parameters of the injections. In addition, this device allows reading engine error codes (along with a description and explanation of what may be the reason) and deleting them. After this operation in the car, all „orange” service, check engine, etc. lights go out, and the car, if it went into service mode and reduced power/revs – starts working normally (at least until the next error will start the service mode again). Useful. And this is also the cause of the problem.
After long negotiations, the officer pointed to a specific provision on the basis of which he imposed a fine of 1,500 euros. In addition, he took the registration document and directed the car to the nearest authorized service center – to check whether the vehicle has no defects affecting the emission of fumes.
OBD II – what is it?
To understand why this happened, it is important to answer the question – what is the OBD II / OEBD system? And why are OBD II connectors identical in all cars?
In a nutshell, OBD II and its European equivalent OEBD is the first universal system controlling the work of all devices that affect the final exhaust emissions from the vehicle. The use of the OBD II system (mandatory in every car manufactured in the EU after 2003) means that the vehicle is equipped with a standard set of devices, sensors, and controllers that ensure compliance with OBD II standards and regulations in the field of environmental pollution. One of the functions of the OBD II system is also the control of the work parameters of all devices affecting the quality of fumes, remembering errors (!) And visual warning of the driver (orange engine light) if something doesn’t work as it should.
It is worth noting that, in view of the above – not only the „ad blue” icon indicates a problem with exhaust emissions. Because the ODB II / OEBD system checks the operation of all devices precisely in terms of meeting emission standards – also the usual „orange” engine indicator often means a problem with the emission of exhaust gases (and environmental pollution).
It can be assumed that just like in the case of the AdBlue system control, also a tractor with a standard, e.g. Euro 6, at the time when the orange engine control ignites – ceases to meet this standard.
Therefore, even an unconnected device that only ENABLES the removal of the above-mentioned errors, in France is classified as a device that impedes control. It is hard to disagree, because if:
– lighting up the orange engine light usually means a problem that affects the emissions and – as a result – environmental pollution,
– the driver can remove the remembered errors with the help of this device – without repairing the vehicle, which will cause the orange „check engine” lights to go out, then we are actually dealing with a device that allows cheating the officer who controls the vehicle.
You do not believe – let’s check the regulations.
French rules of the road
In the French traffic code, we have an article R413-15 (Article R413-15 du Code de la route), which stands as follows:
„Possession or transport of a device or product that can detect the presence or interfere with the operation of devices, or systems used to detect violations of law or traffic regulations or which may prevent the detection of such traffic offenses is punished with a fine (…). Use of a device or product of the same nature is punishable by the same penalty.”
Most people translate this point simply as „prohibition of having/using radar detectors”. Wrongly – the definition, as you can see, is much wider and includes both a smartphone with an application warning against stationary speed cameras, as well as an error reset device from the OBD II exhaust control system. And it does not matter whether it is our „device or product” or whether we only transport it in the car, use it or not. Not only that – according to the French classification, it is a violation of the 5th level and, in addition to a fine of 1,500 euros, it may suspend the operator license in France for two years. And a mandatory visit at the authorized service point.
By the way, I will add that exactly the same rule applies to carrying a strong magnet („device or product”), even if we never used it.
What else to watch out for in France?
Since we are already on the topic of France, I’ll give you two pieces of advice on the occasion.
First of all, if we receive a ticket for a minor offense by post – for example for speeding, it should be paid as soon as possible. If we do not pay the fine within one and a half months – the payment amount will be increased by half, and if we continue to procrastinate – it can grow up to 400 percent of the initial punishment! In this way, instead of – for example – 45 euros, after a few months, we can pay 180 euros.
Secondly, according to French regulations, we should be equipped, among others, with a breathalyser. We should – but we do not have to, because according to the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic of November 8, 1968, the police in France have no right to punish us with a mandate for lack of car equipment that is not required by the law of the country we are a citizen of (of course only if our vehicle is registered in that country). Nevertheless, I would recommend that you bring at least three disposable chemical breathalyzers (note the expiry date – chemical breathalyzers are valid only on average 2-3 years from the date of production!). This is not a big expense, and the gendarme who demands from the driver to show the breathalyzer can wrongly endure the attempt to invoke the Vienna Convention and prove to him that he does not know the law.
To sum up, in France, having an AdBlue and engine erasing the device, or a simple diagnostic device that allows reading and erasing stored engine error codes, is treated as having a radar or magnet and the driver risks a very high fine.