Last Updated on August 1, 2023 by John Robinson
Diesel particulate filters, or DPFs, are now in almost every car. They are responsible for catching particulate matter emissions before leaving the exhaust pipe. The particulate matter is then burned off periodically in a process called regeneration.
Any trucker who drives a truck made after 2007 knows how hard it is to maintain and deal with DPF. One of the things you need to do regularly is to have the filters cleaned by a qualified technician. The technician removes the filter and cleans it using a special machine.
If you are always on the move, you need to regularly clean the filters, which doesn’t come cheap.
If you don’t want to keep cleaning the DPF, there are several things you can do to extend your DPF’s life and, at the same time, keep the filters running cleaner. Some of the things you need to do to achieve this include:
Control oil consumption
Up to 98% of particulate matter emissions end up in the DPF in the form of ash, which is made up of metallic compounds that come from the engine oil, fuel, engine wear metals, or dirt in the air that the engine takes in.
Studies show that up to 90% of the ash in the DPF comes from oil. This ash usually shrinks the size of the DPF, leading to back engine pressure and excessive regeneration cycles.
To reduce the amount of ash and soot in your DPF, you need to control the quality of oil you put in your engine. For the best outcome, use oils that don’t have ash-forming additives. Some of the best oils for this are synthetic base oils with a low viscosity.
Keep your engine clean.
Wear and deposits on the pistons and rings are two leading causes of increased oil consumption. Thankfully, if your engine and the pistons are clean, oil won’t get past the rings and into the combustion chamber, where it will be burned.
To keep your engine clean, stick to the recommended oil drain schedule. This calls for you to always drain your oil per the manufacturer’s recommendations. Remember that the longer you go without draining your oil, the higher the chances that ash and soot will clog the DPF. You don’t want this, do you?
Use a coolant heater.
A few companies now sell coolant heaters that run on diesel fuel. These heaters pre-heat the engine by heating the coolant and then circulating it through the block to get the temperature to about 150 degrees before the engine turns on.
By heating the engine and oil before turning them on, the engine will be better protected and make less pollution, so less dust will go into the DPF.
Pre-heating reduces the maintenance needed for the DPF, lowers emissions, and reduces engine wear by heating the engine oil before starting.
It also improves fuel economy by preventing the engine from idling when it’s cold.
By pre-heating the engine, you reduce a lot of soot and smoke at start-up, which helps the DPF last longer or go longer without a regeneration cycle.
Biodiesel is often sold as easy-to-use drop-in fuel that can help reduce pollution. Unlike other oils that are refined from crude oil, biodiesel is refined from animal and plant fats. The oil has been shown to improve the way diesel particulate filters work.
In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, biodiesel produces less particulate matter when it burns. When there is less particulate matter, there is less buildup of back pressure in DPFs and fewer regeneration cycles.
Avoid excessive idling
While preventing your car from idling at all is impossible, you should avoid excessive idling. This is because when the engine is idling, it makes soot and other small particles, which can quickly build up in the DPF and clog it.
Idling also keeps the engine from reaching the best running temperature, which can cause more soot to build up in the DPF.
To avoid problems with the DPF, avoid letting your car idle for too long. If you must stop your vehicle for a long time, turn off the engine and turn it back on when you’re ready to drive again. This will help stop soot from building up in the DPF and make the car use less gas.
It’s also important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your car and avoid short trips and low-quality fuel, which can cause problems with the DPF.
Check the EGR valve
The EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) reduces the production of NOx (nitrogen oxides) in the engine by recirculating some exhaust gases back into the air intake.
Over time, the soot and carbon that EGR valves are meant to recirculate can build up and block them. This can cause the valve to stay open or open longer than it should, which lets more dust, soot, and carbon into the engine.
The engine warning light should come on if the EGR valve is broken. However, if you’ve had problems with the DPF, check the valve before paying for more expensive DPF regenerations.
Cleaning the DPF
You can extend the life of your filters, but you will eventually have to clean them. As mentioned above, you should have them cleaned by an experienced technician that knows what they are doing.
You can clean your DPF using various methods, such as air, water, and chemical cleaning. As a rule of thumb, you should use the best method recommended by your manufacturer.
You can have your DPF cleaned by a technician in a service station, but if you have a fleet of trucks, it’s better to buy the DPF cleaning machines as it will save you a lot of money in the long run.
To get the most from the machines, buy them from Filtertherm or any other reputable store.
As you clean, inspect the DPF for any signs of damage, such as cracks or leaks. If the DPF is damaged, don’t proceed with cleaning it. Instead, replace it.