Rolling coal continues to be an issue

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Authorities have caught on to "rolling coal" exhaust, and they are not amused. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Authorities have caught on to “rolling coal” exhaust, and they are not amused. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

There’s a particularly annoying action undertaken by the sort of people who lust after their sisters, called “rolling coal” – which is essentially disabling exhaust controls to produce voluminous smoke from diesel pickups. While the Deliverance crowd thinks it’s hilarious, many are not amused.

Bills aimed at rolling coal at state and federal level

Rolling coal, as it’s called, is a national phenomenon where people rebel against environmental regulations to basically be annoying. It isn’t exactly new, as the mechanism by which it’s achieved is fairly old. The basics are to hack a diesel pickup’s exhaust system to produce great billows of smoke and augment the exahust output system with an enormous pipe.

The type that thinks it’s awesome…well, you know them. They wear camo when they aren’t hunting, think Budweiser is actually good, and their romantic guru is Jamie Lannister.

Various governmental bodies are not amused. A bill is going before the state legislature in Illinois, according to AutoBlog that would make the practice illegal, and the feds, according to AutoGuide, have a bill before Congress to amend the Environmental Protection Act to make augmenting exhaust systems to produce more smoke punishable by a $5,000 fine.

Prius repellent

Rolling coal is not new, as truck pull competitors have been known to augment exhausts for years in order to produce more smoke and look cool. It’s just that in recent years, an assortment of bumpkins have taken to doing it everywhere else.

A diesel engine is most common, as they can produce blacker smoke. Newer models are easiest to modify; just like with boosting engine performance, you only need an ECU flash device to modify the exhaust by “tricking” the engine into boosting output from fuel injectors. Combine with a “smoke stack” exhaust and you’re set up to put out enormous quantities of smoke.

The drivers of such vehicles use the resulting smog to envelop basically anyone they want in a cloud of smoke. It’s annoying. On the highway, it’s actually dangerous. One of the more popular uses is, according to Slate, is as “Prius repellant,” blanketing hybrids with a cloud of black smoke.

In fairness, there are some upshots to coal rolling. Just like with what happened to cars with the advent of the catalytic converter, flashing the emissions controls provides a boost in horsepower and fuel economy; some have reported up to 30 percent gains in miles per gallon.

No excuse for being a pig

A lot of people like to cloak the practice of rolling coal in a pretense of protesting invasive regulation. How can the government, goes the common refrain, tell us what to do in our own cars? We buy them and we should get to do what we want!

Nobody says that as a defense for drunk driving, by the way, but then again the two things aren’t directly comparable.

There are legitimate protests over excess regulation, but coal rolling isn’t one. It’s kind of like people who protest gun laws by carrying around an AR-15 in public; it only proves the person doing it is a petulant child.

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