How to report a polluting bus, coach, lorry or car

Exhaust fumes add to pollution and can cause people to suffer illness or experience asthma attacks – so if you spot a smoky bus or lorry you should report it to the authorities for investigation.

Here motoring journalist and expert Pete Barden explains all you need to know about reporting the vehicle – and when you should do it.

How to report a smoky bus or lorryFind out how to report a bus, coach or lorry that is belching out excessive amounts of exhaust smoke  (Credit: Pixabay)

When should I report any smoky exhaust on a bus, coach or lorry?

While reporting a smoky vehicle could help cut pollution and illness, it should be taken into consideration that most buses, lorries and cars that run on diesel will smoke at some time. (Petrol cars can also smoke, so can be reported, too).

When a vehicle accelerates hard, or changes gear, it is perfectly normal for it to smoke and should not be reported in this case. However, if the smoking is continuous – or lasts more than 10 seconds – then there is likely to be a problem and the vehicle should be reported.

Why do some buses and lorries smoke?

There are many reasons why a bus or lorry may be smoky, but it is likely to be down to poor maintenance, engine wear, contaminated fuel, or fault within the fuel system.

A lack of maintenance as a reason, could also suggest the vehicle is not properly looked after and may be suffering from issues that could make it unsafe for public roads.  Reporting it could have the desirable side-effect of removing dangerous vehicles from the road.

What are the risks of a smoky bus or lorry to the environment and public health?

Exhaust emissions are an unwanted source of air pollution in the UK, and vehicles which have excessively smoky exhausts emit high levels of pollutants, especially particulates.

These particulates can be dangerous to people who have asthma and be generally harmful to health for everyone who is exposed to them.

The pollution can also be harmful to the environment, so reporting can help play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change.

Can I report a smoky car?

No – not to the DVSA, which is the agency that deals with such matters. The DVSA can only take action against the likes of lorries and buses, but private cars and taxis or goods vehicles up to 3500kgs etc are not within its remit.

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What will happen to a bus, lorry or coach that I report?

After you report a vehicle, the owner will be told to have the fault rectified and the vehicle checked at the nearest Goods Vehicle Testing Station.

What information do I need to report a smoky vehicle?

If you spot a bus, coach or lorry that is excessively smoky, you will need to record the following information if you wish to report it to the DVSA and have the owner act to cut the harmful emissions coming from their vehicle.

Information required to report a smoky bus, coach or lorry:

  • Type of Vehicle
  • Vehicle Registration Mark (VRM)
  • Company Name
  • Location
  • Date and time of sighting

You will also be asked to provide an email address.

Where to report a smoky vehicle?

You can report a smoky bus, coach or lorry on this official government portal, which will ensure that the report is sent to the relevant authority for action.

Will the owner of the vehicle be told who reported them?

Unless required to do so by law, your personal information will not be shared with anyone.

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Author: Pete Barden:

Twitter: @pete_barden

Pete Barden is a qualified journalist who has written and produced for publications including The Sun (, New Statesman Media Group, Whatcar? ( Stuff Magazine (, Fastcar Magazine (, Maxim Magazine and UK broadcast stations within the Heart network (Formerly GCAP). Pete specialises in motoring and travel content, along with news and production roles. You can find out more about Pete Barden on LinkedIn.

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