A diesel truck owner's battle with the state of New Jersey is leading to the scrapyard. Mike Sebold initially received a letter from the state's Department of Environmental Protection after listing his modified 2008 Ram 2500 on Facebook Marketplace. Officials took issue with the pickup's deleted emissions equipment and, in turn, told Sebold his truck must be returned to stock or taken off the road. But after he decided to turn in his plates and keep it for off-road use, Sebold claims they've forced him to make an appointment with the crusher.
Updated at 1:30 p.m. ET on 09/14/2022: Sebold forwarded screenshots of his email correspondence with the NJ DEP after this article was published. One states that he cannot transfer the truck’s title in any way without returning it to stock. This includes giving it away.
In the other, a department representative explicitly says, “You stated during our conversation that you are unwilling to make repairs to your vehicle. The only other option you have to come into compliance with the NOV and avoid occurring monetary penalties in this matter is to have the truck destroyed at a scrap yard. As I stated in our phone conversation this is not my preferred option as the Department is more interested in having your truck be emissions complaint [sic] than see it destroyed, but nevertheless it’s your property to handle as you see fit.”
The original story continues below.
The saga started in late July when the New Jersey DEP officially opened correspondence with Sebold. He quickly replied and after a few days of back and forth, he decided against returning the Ram to stock. According to him, it would've cost more than $10,000 to do so, which was more than he felt comfortable spending—especially with the 60-day timeframe the DEP gave him. Sebold says he then de-registered the truck and ran it at a sled pull in Warren County, which convinced him to use it strictly for competition.
It appears that still wasn't enough to satisfy the DEP. Sebold tells me they gave him a deadline of September 25 to add emissions components like the diesel particulate filter back to the truck or have it destroyed. After exhausting seemingly every option to save his pickup without spending thousands on repairs, he elected to comply. At the time of publishing, the truck is set to be crushed Friday, September 16.
A New Jersey DEP agent involved with Sebold's case forwarded me to the department's public information officer. When I asked about the ongoing saga, they replied, "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."
When I asked if Sebold was being forced to crush his Ram despite removing it from the road, the DEP said, "Mr. Sebold has made the decision to scrap his truck, despite DEP offering him other options." But that brings us to the question at the core here—even if the DEP offered to extend the September 25 deadline, is it a choice to destroy a truck when the other option is to spend money you can't spare or don't have to bring it into compliance?
Sebold tells me he's never been visited by a DEP representative in person, only that he believes them to have photos and videos of his truck. This was a key detail for many who claimed government overreach when the state initially contacted Sebold, but New Jersey law is clear about its stance on selling deleted trucks. Simply put, it isn't allowed, and they apparently don't have to see it in person if the seller admits to such modifications in the vehicle's listing.
It won't be over until the truck is crushed or the New Jersey DEP changes its mind and allows Sebold to keep it in one piece. Either way, this won't be the last time we see deleted truck owners duking it out with state governments.
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