Klarius Products is the UK’s largest manufacturer of aftermarket emissions parts, producing a vast range of type-approved exhausts, catalytic converters (CATs) and diesel particulate filters (DPFs) – but what does type-approval actually mean?
Doug Bentley, Head of Research and Development at Klarius Products, explains type-approval and why it is an important consideration for replacement emissions equipment.
In the words of the Vehicle Standards Agency (VCA), type-approval offers ‘confirmation that production and samples of a design will meet specified performance standards’ in other words, the product will match the performance of the original. For emissions components this relates to noise, fuel efficiency and levels of back pressure. The approval basically stipulates that an aftermarket component must reach, or exceed the quality standard of the corresponding OE part in design and performance. Manufacturers are further required to confirm that they can produce the part to conforming standards with regards repeatability, whether by themselves or a third party, before mass production can begin in earnest.
Type-approval in the UK is influenced by EU legislative standards, with similar regulations employed around the world. The certification is governed by a third party approval authority, for example in the UK this is the VCA, or in Germany, the TÜV. These institutions act as a non-bias technical service for each region, ensuring that testing is fair and that approved product certifications are transmitted to other institutions in case compliant components are to be sold overseas.
Therefore, type-approval serves as a minimum quality guarantee for components. Selecting a type-approved replacement aftermarket exhaust, CAT or DPF can help to guarantee that the original performance and efficiency levels of a vehicle are preserved. This helps to ensure that a vehicle will pass the emissions section of the MOT, while also providing a motorist with reliable performance throughout the component’s service life.
Selecting a non-type approved exhaust, CAT or DPF can lead to a wide range of issues. Inferior exhausts can cause incorrect back pressure in the emissions system, as improper design essentially strangles the engine or makes it breathless, damaging fuel efficiency and overall performance. Non-type approved CATs can contain a reduced level of precious metal coating in the internal substrate, which means more noxious gases are released into the atmosphere as the exhaust gas catalysing reaction is not as effective. Low quality DPFs may contain an internal ceramic monolith of reduced size inside the metal casing, which means the device fills with soot and ash far quicker than a compliant unit.
In addition, non-type approved parts may not fit to a vehicle, requiring the fitter to adapt the part to create a ‘usable’ solution. In all cases, specifying a non-type-approved emissions part will damage the reliability, efficiency and performance of a vehicle. Furthermore, the part itself can fail prematurely, and could cause problems during MOT testing – which are both potentially expensive outcomes for a vehicle owner.
The responsibility to adhere to these quality standards is therefore very much with the manufacturer. Manufacturers of type-approved components will first reference original equipment products and then test on vehicles to create a prototype part, with the legislatively relevant specifications and design elements then relayed to the regulatory body via documentation prior to testing. Once manufacturing control conformity has been established and the component tested, the part will be assigned a unique type-approval number and corresponding certificate. Typically, this type-approval number will be embossed on the outside of the exhaust, CAT or DPF in question. If minor changes are made to the product, it is also the manufacturer’s responsibility to agree and validate any changes with the relevant approval authority to make sure any design chance complies with the legislation.
While type-approval is mandatory for exhausts, CATs and DPFs in the EU, in the UK exhausts are exempt from certification. It is currently illegal to sell non-type approved CATs for vehicles that were registered after the 1st March 2001, while all Euro 5 and most Euro 4 DPFs must be type-approved to be legally compliant. In the UK it is not currently illegal to fit a non-type approved exhaust, but fitting such a part to a vehicle that is under warranty could void it. It will also be illegal if driven abroad.
The ideal approach is to always specify a type-approved exhaust replacement, as not only does this guarantee a certain quality level, but also ensures a vehicle is wholly compliant if driven in Europe where legislation is more stringent. Manufacturers like Klarius will type-approve all applicable exhausts, CATs and DPFs – so choosing a trusted brand will help to avoid this issue.
Despite the wide ranging benefits type-approval provides, it should be considered a minimum benchmark for emissions component quality. Some manufacturers will employ more stringent quality processes to ensure a truly premium product. Klarius for example carries out fitment testing of components on vehicles of correct model and make, which ensures that a part can be seamlessly installed on the ramp. This is due to the fact that while an original component design may be type-approved, the part in question could have evolved during a production run to service various models in a range. An emissions system for a bottom of the range saloon will not correspond to the top of range sports variant, so this approach is vital to providing an optimised part, and is entirely separate to the type-approval process.
Innovative manufacturing processes such as utilising aluminium coated steel to improve durability are not assessed by type-approval either, so conducting research into the quality benefits a truly accomplished manufacturer can provide is certainly preferable.
Type-approval is a level of minimum quality that should be considered the first point of reference in any emissions component purchasing decision. Specifying a non-type-approved part results in reduced vehicle performance and efficiency, and in worst case component or MOT failure. This results in the costly process of additional replacements and increased time on the ramp. By sourcing a type-approved component, an end user can be sure that the part is of OE quality and will preserve the performance and emissions characteristics of their vehicle, while providing a longer service life to reduce the total cost of ownership.
However, type-approval also helps to ensure that noise and emissions levels fall within acceptable parameters, protecting air quality and the environment. To make an informed purchasing choice, looking beyond type-approval to assess processes and innovations employed by certain manufacturers can result in an excellent replacement rather than an adequate one. Type-approval then, is a certain guarantee that an end user will receive a product of correct design, OE quality and desirable performance attributes.