Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF)
What is a DPF?
A Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) is an Emissions Control Device fitted to the exhaust system in late model Diesel vehicles. It is designed to catch black carbon, which is the remaining emission of burnt diesel fuel. The DPF then stores this carbon until there is enough to require a regeneration (common called a burn or regen). Sensors before and after the DPF read the pressure and tell the engine management system when a regeneration is required.
During the regeneration process the stored black carbon particles are burned using high heat created by your engine and exhaust. This results in the particles becoming a gas, which then exits your vehicle through the exhaust. The DPF should then be clear for future storage and the process repeats.
When Engine Lights appear
Over the years, vehicle manufacturers have used different methods for the regeneration process for Diesel Particulate Filters. Some vehicles have the DPF close enough to the engine that the heat produced by simply driving is enough for the regen process to continually occur. Other vehicles will ignite an engine light and the vehicle then needs to be driven for a certain period of time to complete the regen efficiently.
If a regeneration is not successful, the engine light will stay ignited and the vehicle may go into limp mode. This can happen when the vehicle is only driven short distances as the heat level required for a regen is not reached.
A correct diagnosis is then required to find the fault and rectify the problem.
How to diagnose
A scan tool can read codes to suggest the DPF is not working, however an underlying mechanical fault or sensor failure may be the cause. A full mechanical check and diagnosis may be required to confirm. E.g. If an engine light ignites due to a DPF being melted, it may be due to an overheating issue with the engine. In this case, replacing the DPF will not fix the underlying issue and the new DPF will also melt. The underlying issue must be rectified before a new DPF is fitted to prevent further costs.
The replacement of a Diesel Particulate Filter can be costly and should only be done by an experienced Emissions Specialist. There is a comprehensive DPF fitment guide that must be completed correctly to ensure a professional result.
If you have engine lights on and suspect the Diesel Particulate Filter is the culprit, do not delay getting a diagnosis. If your DPF becomes blocked it can cause other overheating issues to your engine and exhaust.
Scott's Rods Performance Exhausts, 25 Belar St, Yamanto, Qld, 4305
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