If you own a diesel-powered vehicle, then it should be a given that you understand the importance of a DPF and DPF Regeneration. However, if you still get confused about what these are, read on. Here, we’ll try to help you appreciate the concepts more.

What DPF and DPF Regeneration is?

Diesel Particulate Filters (or DPFs) capture the harmful soot produced by diesel engines. The soot is a lump of fine, particulate materials that are by-products of fuel combustion. And this soot can cause severe respiratory problems when inhaled. Found on the vehicle’s exhaust, DPFs sieve and store these matter before being burned off to complete the process of DPF Regeneration.

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sample Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF)

DPF Regeneration refers to the cleaning and clearing of the collected materials from the DPF. You do DPF Regeneration to prevent the soot from clogging up the filter. And to clear the material, the DPF burns them via the heat of the exhaust (passive regeneration) or via extra fuel injected into the device (active regeneration). 

Worldwide, manufacturers started producing diesel vehicles with DPFs after 2009. If you have a car or truck manufactured before that, we advise you get a DPF installed on your vehicle. 

What does it mean when the DPF light comes on?

When the DPF light comes on, it reminds you that the DPF is getting clogged up. This also means that you need to start the regeneration. To do so, start driving off and maintain a sustained speed of 80 to 100 KM per hour for 30 to 45 minutes to perform the regeneration. The DPF light turns off once you finish with the regeneration

In some cars, you can manually start the regeneration while driving or in a stationary/parked position. Drivers can just engage the parking brake or a car switch to start the process. You can also use a car scan tool (or this car scan tool) to perform an active regeneration. 

Newer vehicles today perform automatic active DPF regeneration when the filter reaches a certain capacity of around 45%. The automatic DPF regeneration also happens for every 300 miles driven. The process lasts for about 10 minutes. 

DPF, DPF manual regeneration, DPF regeneration, DPF Light
DPF Light

Why are DPF creating issues in cars when used mainly for city driving?

City driving means your vehicle cannot get into a sustained driving mode for at least 30 to 45 minutes to perform complete passive regeneration. And diesel engines needing a smooth, long drive to clean their filters should try to avoid traffic and short drives.

City driving
City driving

How to do a forced DPF regeneration

Aside from manually engaging a car switch, you can just use a scan tool like this one (or this one) to activate the function. Either way, check first if your vehicle is ready to undergo DPF manual regeneration. A quick inspection if your coolant and oil are on their normal level, and if your fuel is at least ¼ full, ensure that the regeneration will happen properly. Make sure also that you are using the correct oil recommended by the car manufacturer to prevent unwanted additives from entering your engine.

DPF, DPF manual regeneration, DPF regeneration, DPF Light
DPF forced regeneration

Why do this though? FYI, when regeneration happens, the produces a high amount of heat, coupled with an increase in fuel consumption. You’ll also see your car’s idle speed register higher than normal. Finally, you can hear your cooling fans working and an unusual smell coming from under the vehicle. These are signs that your vehicle is doing the regeneration. 

How to clean or replace your DPF?

We recommend you perform DPF regeneration, whether passive or active, at least once a week, especially if you experienced being caught in traffic in the past few days. 

Sometimes, though, your DPF gets clogged up and doing the DPF regeneration yourself will not cut it anymore. The solution you have here are cleaning or replacing the DPF . 

A trusted diesel engine mechanic or shop usually offers special forced regeneration services. Her, they use cleaning agents injected in the DPF to clean the blockade. They may also do overnight deep soaking, but this is more expensive. Last, some auto shops also offer preventive maintenance services for your DPF. 

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DPF cleaning

It may seem that you’re paying a lot for these services, but cleaning and preventive maintenance is way cheaper that replacing the entire unit. 

After driving the vehicle for 5,000 hours or 240,000 KM to 400,000KM, or if the DPF is beyond repair, we recommend you replace the DPF altogether. Be ready to shell out a pretty decent sum of money though. And once you replace a DPF, you must reset its count using this tool (or this tool). 

Even with the eye-catching amount you need to replace DPFs, don’t even think of driving your vehicle without one. If you bought your vehicle with a factory DPF, then it is illegal in Australia to drive without one. You are looking at a $10,000 to $12,000 fine if authorities catch you. – which is many times more than buying a replacement DPF. 

Our Final Word

Owning a vehicle with a diesel engine can have its pros and cons. 

They are more fuel-efficient, produce more energy and mileage, and have a longer life span than a petrol motor. However, diesel engines also require more expensive and special servicing because of components such as a DPF. 

Still, the power and reliability of diesel engines are invaluable, particularly to owners of trucks, 4x4s, caravans, and trailers. 

As with any vehicle, regular maintenance of its parts can prolong its working life. This, and knowing how your vehicle parts function, can be the difference between saving hundreds of dollars and forking out thousands for repairs and replacements. 

Here at OBD2 Australia, we provide Australians not just quality and affordable car equipment and accessories like scan tools you may need for your DPF regeneration. We also try to give you informative articles and guides, like this, on how to improve your vehicles and your everyday drive. 

So, be sure to check out our other articles on the site. Or better yet, chat us up and let’s achieve that EPIC driving experience soon!