How to fix “Exhaust filter limit reached. drive to clean now” (Ford GPF Filter)

We were surprised to see comments by Ford owners on our GPF / Gasoline Particulate filter FAQ asking about the error “Exhaust filter limit reached. drive to clean now“.

We were made to believe that unlike the DPF filter, the GPF was a “maintenance free” filter which would “clean” itself under normal driving conditions. Unfortunately, that doesn’t look like it’s the case.

I’ve been through all the new Ford Ecoboost manuals I can find online and unfortunately, I can’t see anything about the GPF or related error anywhere. As you would expect, there is a section dedicated to the DPF but the Gasoline Particulate filter is not mentioned anywhere.

Some of the Ford forums suggest that this error could be due to a sensor malfunction however we’ve seen comments with increasing frequency from owners with cars under a year old.

Could it be that like a DPF, the GPF requires the same sort of conditions for regeneration? If so this is going to pi** a lot of owners off, especially those that have moved over to petrol cars from diesel cars due to low milages or driving habits that we’re ideal for modern diesel cars.

Is this the start of GPF regeneration issues for petrol car owners?

Having myself already been bitten by issues with DPF regenerations I’m concerned that this issue could be the start of filter regeneration issues on petrol cars. What we aren’t sure about is if this issue with only related to Ford vehicles equipped with GFP filters. 

As per our GFP FAQ article – the GPF regeneration works very differently than a DPF

How does a GPF regenerate?

GPF regeneration can only be performed in “non power” conditions,  meaning that regeneration is normally achieved under deceleration. Deceleration increases the amount of oxygen following through the engine and exhaust system. This in turn raises the temperature of the GPF to around 400c – 700c, igniting the soot contained within the filter. 

In conditions where this is not possible, the vehicles engine management systems alter timing causing it to run lean. This “lean” burn increases oxygen and therefore GPF operating temperatures, allowing regeneration to occur.

 

Does this only affect certain Ford models?

We understand that in some vehicles the GPF filter is located further down the exhaust system than others. This would suggest why some models in the Ford line up don’t seem to have this issue. We’ll update this when we have some more information.

How to clear the warning / fault

We were lucky enough to find the following image supplied in a forum post of the fordownersclub.com website.

It shows: Gasoline Particulate filter Information Messages

Message: Exhaust Filter at Limit. Drive to Clean

Action: 

  • Drive at varied range of conditions including highway conditions for 20 minutes or until the message disappears.

  • Avoid prolonged idling

  • Select a suitable gear to maintain engine speed between 1500 and 4000RPM

Until we have any further information we can only suggest that a blast up your local dual carriageway while focusing on periods of throttle off deceleration from high revs. Deceleration increases the amount of oxygen following through the engine and exhaust system. This, in turn, raises the temperature of the GPF to around 400c – 700c

This should help exhaust temperatures reach those required for a GPF regen, it’s certainly worth a shot. 

What is also unclear is what happens if the filter gets too full / clogged? We’ve been made aware of at least one case where an owner has required a “static regen” at cost from their dealer. This is all sounding very familiar if you ask me.

Is there a software fix for this issue?

We’ve been made aware of some rumours of a software fox for this issue however it seems that at present it’s too early to know more. 

We need your help

I just tried to call a couple of Ford dealerships in my area and as I’m not an owner, they were unwilling to help with my questions on this issue.

We’re looking for a Ford Technician or someone with a new Focus / Fiesta ECO boost that could enquire about this issue with their local dealership.

We’re also looking to hear from owners who have experienced this issue. Did you manage to clean it? Did it require a dealer “static regen”? Please let us know in the comments below so we can update this article with information which might help owners result the issue without an expensive dealer visit.

More Information

Check out our other articles about the GPF Gasoline Particulate filter

Credits

Image thanks to fordownersclub.com

About

Karl is the editor and owner of this glorious website. He currently writes for numerous environmental websites, producing content for the greater good. His experience in graphic design, Wordpress and all things automotive have helped sculpt Hypermiler.co.uk into its current form from very humble beginnings. He has numerous IT qualifications, a red belt in Taekwondo and likes craft Ales. Get in touch via our Contact Page

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17 comments on “How to fix “Exhaust filter limit reached. drive to clean now” (Ford GPF Filter)
  1. Wils says:

    I have a 2019 Ford Focus 1.0 ecoboost which has now done 5128 miles. Last week the warning that you illustrated came on. At first I thought it was a mistake as i was unaware that the car was fitted with one as when i traded in my old diesel Focus because of the DPF issues which i told the salesperson(a main Ford dealer) about he agreed they were a problem but no mention of my new petrol car having one (anything for a sale). Anyway i done as the warning said and drove the car like a MANIAC which to me defeats the whole purpose of these filters? The warning went out and has not came back on so far. The only plus side is that my new car actually tells me its needing done whereas my old car didn’t and i had to just guess when it needed regeneration.

  2. Kusek says:

    Also have the problem with the Ford Focus 1.0 mk4. For a year I receive this message regularly. When buying the car, there was no explanation that I have to drive regularly on the highway to clean the filter. In the meantime, Ford (Germany) himself and my local dealer even want to tell me that that would be normal and that’s a problem with all manufacturers. I am the problem and just have to drive more. The message appears and disappears while driving, a “static regen” was not yet necessary. The longest route was a 43 miles freeway ride before the message related. Shortest route was 3 miles appear after 2 miles again.

  3. My new focus st after about 2 month I got the to cleanexhaustgave it 15mile run ok for 10 months same message again drove 30 miles on mototway but warning came back on next day is it safe go drive I don’t know am I doing damage go engine ?due for service in january is it safe to drive car

  4. Cusance says:

    Ford 1.0 ecoboost titanium 8 months old. Petrol. I have had this message several times during the past few weeks.6500 miles. Service guy at the Ford dealership said that they were totally unaware of this issue. ( Don’t know if he was being honest). Car has been booked in and will be checked out next week.i did several trips up the motorway but often after driving a mile the message comes on.

    • Karl says:

      I’d be very surprised if the whole dealership network wasn’t aware of it. Let us know how you get on.

      • Cusance says:

        well I took it to the dealership (2019 Ford 1.0 Focus Titanium ecoboost)and as expected they could not find a fault. Seems when the message comes on, it doesnt leave a fault code. Presumably because, if this is a design fault, there would not be a fault asfar as the FORD definition goes. BUT, they said that there was a software/firmware update for the Power Module. Now as far as I understand it, this is the basic ‘brains’ of the car. The car feels slightly different now. Sportier in ‘normal’ mode.Certainly seems to run at higher revs. No sign of the message. The service guys said that the software update to the power module had nothing to do with the GPF. I am sure he is right but I wonder. Here is some speculations (which is always dangerous so lots of disclaimers on my part DO NOT take this as gospel or a fix or solution. Its only my, non technical speculation!!) but we know that the GPF cleans on deceleration. so does higher revs mean greater decelaration drops? i dont know. I am probably way off track here and making 2+2 = 5.
        Another point as a totally aside: I noticed that the voice guidance from the Sync3 SATNAV did not mute the radio when ‘speaking’ which was a bit of a bother. however I had initially set the radio sound Dynamic volume (volume changes with speed of the car) to high. I have now switched that off and I can now hear the satnav guidance voice slightly muting the radio, which is better.
        I will see how it all goes for a while.

        • Karl says:

          Thanks for the update. The software update does suggest that there is something they needed to “fix”. The proof will be if you continue getting the errors. An increase in performance could be what it needs to blow the cobwebs from the GPF, problem is without an official recall it’s very hard to tell what they change when they update the ECU.

          On a side note – did you have to pay a diagnostics fee for Ford to look at it?

          Let us know how you get on. Fingers crossed that’ll be the end of it.

          • cusance says:

            no the car is under warranty. It was agreed that in accordance with Ford assumptions the filter message should not appear.

          • Cusance says:

            I have now been driving for two weeks after the software update to the PCM and it seems to have cured the issue. The car runs at slightly higher revs which actually makes it feel more responsive although my fuel economy ( in normal mode driving) has reduced from 48 m/g to 47.4 but the filter issue has gone. If you still are driving with the message then it may be worthwhile to ask the dealer if there is an update to the PCM.

  5. Cusance says:

    Ford 1.0 Focus ecoboost titanium 8 months old. Petrol. I have had this message several times during the past few weeks.6500 miles. Service guy at the Ford dealership said that they were totally unaware of this issue. ( Don’t know if he was being honest). Car has been booked in and will be checked out next week.i did several trips up the motorway but often after driving a mile the message comes on.

  6. Ross says:

    Have just started recieving this message in my 19 plate 125 ps focus st-line at 4800 miles first appeared a few minutes into driving then about a minute into driving next time. Then started car this morning and message appeared straight away. Have heard if you put the car into sport mode when you start it the message wont appear. All i need to do for message to go away is press ok.

  7. Lisa says:

    Had this come up first time today, 125 st-line focus 19 plate, 1500 miles, generally push car to its limits anyway as just come out of 22 yr old 1.8 GTi so don’t understand why this has happened

  8. Cusance says:

    I have now been driving for two weeks after the software update to the PCM and it seems to have cured the issue. The car runs at slightly higher revs which actually makes it feel more responsive although my fuel economy ( in normal mode driving) has reduced from 48 m/g to 47.4 but the filter issue has gone. If you still are driving with the message then it may be worthwhile to ask the dealer if there is an update to the PCM.

  9. clifford dean says:

    i have a brand new 69 reg ford tourneo ( w.a.v. ) and i have had a message about the exhaust filter and now the engine light is on permanantly looked through the manuel but do not understand

    • Karl says:

      That seems very strange. From what we understand Ford resolves these issues.

      I’d get it back to your dealership ASAP and let them deal with it. Might even be a fault GPF or a sensor on the unit.

      Let us know how you get on.

  10. Matt says:

    Mine came on at 1800 miles the other day. Cleared it in around 5 minutes.
    Get in 2nd between 2500-3000 rpm then brake heavily, rinse and repeat.
    Obviously need a bit of clear road behind you!!
    But it cleared so hopefully won’t come straight back!!

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