Are you looking to buy a VW, Skoda, Audi or Seat diesel car equipped with a DPF? Are you the lucky owner of a VW Group diesel car? If you answered yes to at least one of these, you need this app.
What does VAG DPF do?
VAG DPF is an android (only) app which lets you monitor, track and log data from a wide range of sensors related to your DPF and diesel emissions system. The app lets you view information on DPF regeneration, the DPF burn cycle and most importantly the oil ash content of the filter itself.
Depending on your engine/vehicle, the app lets you display live DPF data available from your ECU. See below for a screenshot from the app running on a Motorola Moto G3 I keep in the car just for this and resetting the dreaded EML (engine management light) – VW life 😉
The data displayed is pretty self-explanatory. The key value for me is the Oil Ash Residue reading. We’ll go further into this later in the article.
Before you can use the app, you’ll need to get yourself an ODB2 dongle, that leads us on to…
Which VAG vehicles will it work on?
The VAG DPF doesn’t work with all VAG group diesel cars. The author of the app has graciously given a compressive list of engines it support however we’d recommend installing the free version of the app (click for VAG DPF free) before you spend your hard-earned money on the full app itself. Below is a list of engines taken from the app listing in the app store
- DETA (2.0 TDI 190CV)
- CRBC (2.0TDI 150CV)
- CFHD (2.0TDI 143CV)
- CUNA (2.0TDI 184CV) – the one fitted in my Mk3 Skoda Octavia VRS TDI 184
- CFFB (2.0TDI 140CV)
- CFWA (1.2TDI 75CV)
- CLHA (1.6TDI 105CV)
- CXXB (1.6TDI 110CV)
- CAYC (1.6TDI 105CV)(partially on Passat 3C MY10)
- CAHA (2.0TDI 170CV)(beta, requires verification)
- Tested by users: CFGB(*), CFGC, CJCA, CRMB, CUPA, CUSA, CXFA, CAYB, CAYD, CRLB, CUTA, CFHC, CAGA(*), CSHA, CJCD, DFSB, CLAB, DFLA, DCXA, CFCA, CGLC, CFJB, CFHA, CRUA, DDYA, CXHA, DFFA, CRKB, DCYA, DFCA, CUUB, CGLB, CUAA, CUSB, CAPA(*), DFGA, DFSF, DFHA, CNHA, DGTE(*), CCWA, DGDA, DLUB, CJCB, DGTD
(*) = partial support or depending on SW version
You might need to consult google, your manual, dealership or an owners club to confirm which engine you have.
Which Dongle do I need?
Unfortunately, you can’t just use any OBD2 dongle with the VAG DPF app. I personally use a Vgate Bluetooth ELM327 dongle (we covered that here) however, things have moved on since then.
The dongle needs to be ELM327. ELM327 is a communication and instruction set standard that controls and defines how software can communicate with the OBD adapter and therefore the vehicle. This standard is developed by Elm Electronics, hence the ELM prefix.
The publisher of the app recommends using the Carista dongle for the best performance. We’ve heard great things about the Carista dongle and would choose to buy one these over the vgate should we need another. It’s pretty cheap too at just £15.99 from our friends at Amazon and includes free delivery for those with prime.
Can it regen my DPF?
Unfortunately, the app is not able to regen your DPF or clear the DPF warning light. The app is designed only to display information and readings from the DPF and related sensors. If you want to do that, you’ll need something like VCDS or to consult a local VW independent specialist.
Why you should use VAG DPF?
There’s very little argument against the use of VAG DPF, especially if you’re looking to buy a second-hand diesel car from either VW, Skoda, Audi or Seat.
Imagine this… You find a beautiful Golf GTD, Seat Leon FR (diesel) or Skoda Octavia VRS diesel at a respectable garage. It drives great, it’s comfortable, efficient and most importantly – the Mrs seems to like it even though it’s not a baby pink Evoque. You take it for a test drive… it’s perfect. You hand your cash over to Terry Tibbs Cars Ltd and drive away. Unfortunately for you, the DPF was 95% full of ash. The DPF does a regen every 50 miles, leaving your MPG in taters and ultimately you’ll need a new DPF once it reaches its ash limit. As you know, DPFs are NOT covered under warranty. You’re ****ed. The Mrs is pissed with you because you spent the money she had put aside for her designer poodle mix puppy or spray tan and hair extensions on a new DPF filter. She doesn’t even understand what a DPF is” All she knows is that its your fault and you’re sleeping in the spare room for the next two weeks.
Now imagine this… You find that car, plug in your Carista dongle, fire up your £30 Andriod burner phone and run the VAG DPF app. It says the Oil ash reading is “X” grams or %. A quick google or a post on the facebook owners club reveals why the car is sitting on a forecourt in the first place, it needs a new DPF. You’ve been saved from what could be a four-figure bill. This leaves you to walk away or negotiate a replacement DPF / discount with Mr Tibbs.
Now, this article hasn’t been sponsored by VAG DPF, I just wish something like this was available for my Qashqai when I bought it. Over £1000 in DPF “repairs” saw me sell the car in less than 6 months. It was an expensive lesson. I hope that this article will help others not make the same mistake. Hell, if you’re local to me I’ll even scan a car for you if you’re too tight to by the kit and you’d like some peace of mind.
How much Oil Ash can my DPF take before it’s full?
This figure varies for each engine/car. We’d highly recommend reaching out to an owners club to ask that exact question. I found a number of forum thread which owners comparing figures. Not only did it put the figures into perspective, but they also suggested that considering my mileage, my DPF life expectancy was well above par.
You could consult your dealership or a local independent VAG specialist for these figures if you’re struggling to find them online.
How I use the VAG DPF app for my 2015 Skoda VRS diesel (CUPA engine)
How do I use the app in my VRS I hear you say? Periodically I check the oil ash figures to see how full the DPF is. As you can see below, in 51,991 km the oil ash level has gone from 13.4g to 26.3g. I know I’ve still got a few more years until it needs replacing and I’ll be damn sure to take that into account as the repair and maintenance costs start to mount in my ageing Skoda wagon.
I’ve also fired up the app when I’ve seen sustained periods of low MPG on the Skoda’s Maxidot. It revealed that it was trying to do a DPF regen but I simply wasn’t meeting the right conditions to let one complete successfully. I’ve promptly detoured and gave it a quick “thrash” up the A1. Note – be sure to fully understand what’s required before you rag your car up and down a dual carriageway. DPF regens require certain engine temperatures, speed and RPM to be triggered. Google is your friend. For example, here is the one we published for the Mk3 Skoda VRS diesel DPF
Screenshots above – left 06/07/2017 & right 24/10/2019
Thankfully, the app displays when a DPF burn is in progress so you only need to “burn” for as long as required, not a mile more. Saving fuel and your sanity.
I’m pretty passionate about this app. Having a reliable and cost-effective way of checking DPF oil ash loading is an absolute godsend and makes diesel car ownership much more transparent. Dealerships won’t be falling over themselves to give you DPF loading figures, so this is an essential solution to ensuring you won’t be facing a DPF repair bill shortly after buying a car. It’ll also help you budget for an expensive DPF filter or car replacement when your filter is near life.
I simply can’t recommend it enough. Especially when you factor in that the app and dongle will set you back less than £20.
We’ve thrown quite a few links into this article but please seem below for an easy to use reference
- VAG DPF Paid App
- VAG DPF Free App
- VAG DPF User forum
- Carista ODB2 Dongle
- VGATE PBD2 Dongle
- Our original article about which dongle to use
- Our DPF FAQ page
- Cheap unlocked Android Phones if you’re an iPhone user @ Amazon
Let’s hear from you!
That’s enough from me. Let’s hear from you guys using the app! Are we missing something? Has it saved you from buying a car with a near life DPF? How have you used it to track your oil ash levels? Let us know in the comments below
Just buy it!
An essential app for VAG car owners with a compatible engine. This £3.30 app could save you hundreds, if not thousands of pounds. Just make sure you get the right ODB2 dongle.