Located within the exhaust system, a DPF captures small soot particles, preventing them from being expelled into the atmosphere. As with any filter it needs emptying periodically and this is done automatically, by burning up the particulates in a process called regeneration. There are three different types of DPF regeneration that are commonly used. These are active and passive, and forced.
Under normal circumstances the regeneration process is carried out by the car itself when the engine management/emissions management system detects the DPF is in need of regeneration. However Diesel vehicles used mainly for short journeys do not provide the system sufficient opportunity to regenerate the DPF resulting in a fault developing. This fault is indicated by the DPF / engine management fault indicator illuminating or a fault message on vehicles equipped with display centers.
The Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) indicator signifies your vehicle's DPF filter has not been regenerated (cleaned) and will require a manual / static regeneration. Once this service is indicated it is advisable to have the procedure carried out as soon as possible to avoid long term and possibly expensive damage to the filter.
DPF cleaning is a manual process that removes the soot and diesel particulates from the filter. DPF cleaning is achieved using by utilising ultrasonic cleaning technology in combination with specialist chemicals. This process removes all traces of particulate, returning it back to near new condition.
How to take care of your DPF system.
- Use the right oil. In this system it is imperative that you use the correct low ash engine oil. Using oil that does not meet the specification will produce excessive ash which over time will clog the filter. It is important that all the sensors, valves and associated components monitoring the diesel particulate filter operation are fully operational.
- Drive faster. If you do mostly short distance city driving, it is important that your vehicle is taken on a continuous freeway drive of over 15 minutes at the minimum speed of 80kph (or at the speed stated in your owners manual) at least once a week to initiate the regeneration process.
- 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.
The diesel particulate filter is one more thing that must be tracked and maintained on a heavy duty truck. Making sure the truck is on a regular preventive maintenance program will help ensure the long life of the DPF. Regularly replacing air filters and fuel filters, and using the correct type of oil for the engine will help prevent unnecessary wear, and even catastrophe, with the DPF.