As we creep into the colder months, many of us look forward to flaunting our winter woollies, feasting on stodgy foods and, dare we say it, admiring quaint streets adorned with Christmas lights.
But, other kinds of illuminations, such as a little amber ‘engine fault’ symbol on our dashboards, might put the brakes on any festive cheer – especially if it’s indicating your diesel particulate filter (DPF) is blocked.
With that said, let us share with you everything you need to know about your DPF, including what it is, how to tell if it’s blocked and, more importantly, how to get it fixed without breaking the bank.
A DPF is a diesel particulate filter designed to remove soot and other fine particles from exhaust fumes.
As your vehicle reaches optimum temperature, the soot particles are collected by the DPF and burned off to regenerate the filter automatically.
However, DPFs have a finite capacity and, depending on the age of your vehicle and your driving habits, they can soon become clogged due to a failed regeneration process.
Okay, so your ‘engine fault’ light has illuminated and your vehicle’s gone into limp mode – but how can you tell if it’s due to a DPF failure?
Typically, a blocked DPF will cause:
If your vehicle’s showing any of these symptoms, it’s best to get your DPF checked by a qualified mechanic before things get any worse.
At DPF Express Clean, we use the latest diagnostics software to quickly identify and remove any blockages, meaning your vehicle spends less time on the ramp and more time on the road.
In most cases, a blockage results from short journeys where a diesel engine doesn’t get a chance to reach optimum operating temperatures.
As a result, unburnt soot is passed through the exhaust system where it finally deposits in the DPF.
It’s important to remember diesel vehicles are designed for longer journeys and depend on appropriate running times to function efficiently.
If you’re mainly using a diesel vehicle to navigate congested city routes or to pop to the local shop, you’re better off changing to either a petrol or electric engine to avoid further engine faults.
Other common causes for a blocked DPF include:
In any instance, our DPF diagnostic software will be able to determine the exact cause of your blockage by retrieving an error code from your vehicle’s electronic control unit (ECU).
There are three ways to overcome a blocked DPF, which are DPF regeneration, DPF replacement and DPF cleaning.
Let’s look at each option:
DPF regeneration – a DPF regeneration is the straightforward process of driving your vehicle at higher-than-normal revolutions per minute (RPM) for at least 30 minutes. In doing so, you’re given your vehicle a chance to sustain optimum operating temperatures which help to burn any blockages.
If this fixes the problem, build similar journeys into your week, even if it means taking the longer route from time to time.
DPF static regeneration – this is a process whereby your mechanic will plug your vehicle into specialist diagnostic software and run your engine at the necessary RPM until soot deposits are removed from your exhaust system. The process usually takes between 30 to 45 minutes.
DPF cleaning – as a preferred option for many diesel owners, a DPF clean is the environmentally friendly process of removing up to 98% of soot and ash build-up with specialised flushing machinery.
Here’s a little video we made to show you how it all works.
Yes. A fully operating DPF has been part of MOT testing since February 2014. If the filter is blocked or removed, the car will fail its MOT.
At DPF Express Clean, we charge £180 +VAT for a DPF clean. The procedure is straightforward and often completed while you wait.