Most truckers aren’t too keen on them, but if your rig is less than 8 years old, Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF) are just another piece of equipment on your rig. So knowing how to deal with them is important.
Just as the name implies, DPFs filter out particles, mostly soot, from the exhaust. The filter is made of chemically coated ceramic, so that means it’s heat-resistant, but like a CorningWare® dish, it can crack if mishandled. Here are some tips for getting the most out of them.
When exhaust backpressure gets too high, the system will automatically vary the fuel-injection cycle to burn off accumulated soot and ash. Most of the time this will happen as you drive, but if the DPF warning lamp flashes, you need to do a parked regeneration, which can take 20 minutes or more.
Every manufacturer has an approved method for servicing, which is normally needed about once a year. This is not a DIY item, not least because the stuff that’s removed from the filter is considered hazardous waste. In most cases, servicing the DPF will take less than an hour and cost about $150 or so. There are exceptions.
Regularly serviced, the DPF should last up to 500,000 miles. But if you have a turbo failure or a leaking fuel injector, the DPF may need to be replaced. Even though this is costly, some manufacturers have an exchange program, and quality, CARB/EPA-approved aftermarket replacements are available.
This may seem obvious, but never bang on the filter housing, don’t try to steam-clean it yourself, and never mount or weld anything on it. Remember that a really harsh jolt can crack the ceramics, so watch those railroad-track crossings.
Sure, the DPF is one more thing to deal with on your rig. But it’s been proven to remove more than 98% of soot from diesel-engine exhaust, and that can help us all breathe easier.