In today’s world of ever tightening emissions regulations, diesel particulate filters (DPFs) have become common place to help keep those dirty diesels rolling off the production line. Without them, many diesel engines would have been retired in the light of Euro 5 & 6 emissions standards.
DPFs may well be great for the environment but the cost of DPF regenerations, repairs and replacement can run up eye watering bills (a lesson we’ve learnt first hand!).
So what can you do to keep your DPF filter trouble free and your wallet intact? Here’s our top five tips on keeping your DPF clean and trouble free.
1. Drive Faster
Contrary to popular belief, driving faster could actually save you money in the long run. DPF regenerations can only occur when certain conditions are met such as speed, RPM and engine temperature. Unless all the conditions are met, the DPF regeneration process will not start and you’ll be one step closer to a costly dealer regen (trust me I know from experience).
Do your homework, find out how fast you need to drive, for how long and at what RPM. Your dealer might not want to give you this information so we’d recommend reaching out to the online community and owners clubs for this.
2. Use the right Oil
Choosing the right oil for your car is vital to ensuring your engine produces as little diesel particulate matter as possible. Always try and use the manufacturer approved engine oil. Most manufacturers specify a low SAPS oil which is specifically designed to be low in Sulphated Ash. This is a by-product of diesel combustion that causes the DPF “mesh” to become be blocked.
3. Get your EGR valve checked
Over time EGR valves can become blocked with the soot and carbon they are designed to recirculate. This in turn can cause the device to stick open or open for longer than it should, increasing particulates, soot and carbon to to be fed back into the engine.
A faulty EGR valve should illuminate the engine warning light but if you have experienced DPF issues in the past we’d suggest that you have it looked at before any further costly DPF regenerations.
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4. Keep out of town
The start stop nature of urban driving is one of the biggest reasons many drivers experience DPF issues. Short distances, low speeds and the start stop nature of driving built up areas can make it near impossible to replicate the conditions needed for an active or passive DPF regeneration.
Try and mix in some some faster and less congested roads to maximise the chance of a regeneration (See 1.)
5. Buy the right car!
My rather unpleasant and expensive experience with the DPF in my 2.0dci Nissan Qashqai seemed to hit a chord with my fellow “Urban Proof” owners. The Qashqai owners clubs were rife with the very same issue again and again, suggesting that some marques are more susceptible to DPF issues than others. Before you start looking for your next oil burner we’d suggest doing some digging and asking one of the many online owners clubs and forums for their experiences. Taking into account your driving habits it may well be better to opt for another model or even the petrol powered alternative.
6. Get clued up!
OK, I know I said top five but if you’ve found this page then you’ve already either experienced issues or are having DPF issues. You’re in good hands so why not check out our other DPF resources and get clued up, we’d suggest you take a look at the following pages:
We’d love to hear your tips for keeping your DPF in check, feel free to leave a comment below.