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EPA emissions regulations have been progressing over the last two decades, leading up to the current Tier 4 Final diesel engines.

Diesel engines require more stored energy to start than gasoline engines, especially on cold days. Instead of just using the battery to enable the starter to crank the engine, a diesel engine must have sufficient power to enable the glow plugs to warm the combustion chambers and then must build up enough heat and compression in the cylinders to ignite the fuel.

For this reason, diesel engines must possess considerably more battery capacity than conventional vehicles. But aside from the battery, electrical systems on diesel engines are pretty much the same as those on conventional vehicles; alternators, solenoids, and starters perform their usual functions.

Manufacturers have transformed the old, toxic diesel emissions with clean exhaust emissions by having made dramatic changes to their emissions control systems.

Any new sweeper with a 75-hp or higher diesel engine must meet the strictest of emissions requirements. The result is that diesel engines are now electronically controlled and make use of engine control modules that control soot and NOx gases released into the environment.

The first innovations in cleaner diesel emissions systems were the additions of the following components:

• A diesel oxide catalytic converter that cleans hydrocarbons from the exhaust stream.
• A diesel particulate filter that scrubs sooty particles from the exhaust, trapping them in the filter material and regularly hitting the filter with a burst of superheated gasses to burn up the particles.

This change means new sweepers will produce fewer pollutants, but it also took a tremendous effort from sweeper and engine manufacturers to implement, and this has caused the prices of these new Tier 4 sweepers to go up by as much as 20 percent.

Concerns about being the first to own this “new technology” has driven up the value of pre-emission (Tier 3 and older) sweepers, and we also don’t know how Tier 4 sweepers will maintain their value in the used equipment market. It is too soon to know exactly how well these sweepers will hold their value because there are just not enough units on the used market today. Plus, to work on these new engines, you’ll either have to either go back to the dealer or manufacturer or invest in getting your service techs certified by the engine manufacturer.

However, Tier 4 is here to stay, and we’ll all eventually switch, but there is a significant increase in demand for pre-emission sweepers at the moment, and this trend is expected to continue for the next several years, with pre-emission sweepers with low hours becoming harder and harder to find.

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