If you have a car that runs on diesel, then you will eventually become closely acquainted with a special part known as the particulate filter. This component is placed within the exhaust system to manage and process harmful soot particles before they emerge into the outside atmosphere. Engineers have designed these filters to be largely self-sufficient but, as with everything else mechanical, things can go wrong. What options do you have should this be the case?
In its basic form, a DPF, or diesel particulate filter, is simply a filter. It has a very fine mesh and is designed to trap the soot particles as they flow down the exhaust pipe towards the tailpipe. However, this component is designed to be "smart" as well and is connected to an electronic device that is, in turn, linked to the ECU, or engine control unit. Sensors are meant to detect when the amount of soot builds up to a certain extent and trigger a process known as regeneration.
When notified, the ECU should increase the temperature of the exhaust so that the soot is burned off in place. This is a relatively harmless process and should clear the filter sufficiently so that it works properly once again. In other vehicles, this process is automatically triggered when the vehicle reaches a certain speed, and the engine is turning at or above a specific revolution. Normally, this should take place on a motorway as the vehicle maintains a high speed for a set amount of time.
Occasionally, the regeneration process can fail, and this may be due to a faulty sensor or, in some circumstances, out-of-date software. When things start to go wrong, you will notice poor performance or issues with fuel consumption, and the vehicle may fail an emissions test.
You may need to take the vehicle in to your local garage so that they can update the software package, and they may need to manually clean the filter at the same time. This is not a job that can be done at home as it requires special tools and certain chemicals. The technician will also check the system to make sure that there are no other faults that could be contributing to any blockage.
Looking to the Future
If your vehicle is not equipped with a regenerator that is controlled by the ECU, you will need to remember to schedule a motorway trip from time to time. This will help you to keep those soot levels in check and avoid any problem in the future.
To learn more, contact a shop that offers mechanical services.