Looking after your car: why you might need to get your diesel particulate filter cleaned

Young businessman going on a business trip by car

A diesel particulate filter captures and stores exhaust soot to reduce emissions. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

You’ve possibly never heard of a diesel particulate filter (DPF) before, but it plays a critical role in diesel vehicles and if not properly maintained, could cause some damage.  

Andrei Udrea, director of ST Garage in Huntingdon, explains why you may need to get your DPF checked by a professional.  

Refueling car. Pump gas at petrol fuel station. Gasoline oil nozzle tank from hand person. Automotiv

A sign of a blocked DPF is an increase in fuel consumption. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Q: Firstly, what is a diesel particulate filter?

A: A diesel particulate filter (DPF) is a filter that captures and stores exhaust soot (some refer to them as soot traps) in order to reduce emissions from diesel cars.

But because they only have a finite capacity, this trapped soot periodically has to be emptied or 'burned off' to regenerate the DPF.

Q: Why might I need to get my DPF looked at?

A: When the DPF regenerates and burns the particulate matter inside it, a substance similar to ash or tar can form and get trapped inside. In extreme cases, the blocked filter could cause problems with the engine, however it’s more likely to result in a decrease in acceleration and increase in fuel consumption. Some cars won't start because the filter is so clogged up. Also, if the DPF gets to a point when it’s almost full, your car will fail the emissions test in an MOT.

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The primary cause of a blocked DPF is driving at low speeds, so those who commute short distances to work, or are only using their car once a week to go to a nearby supermarket during lockdown, may be at risk.

DCS-16 DPF Cleaning Machine at ST Garage.

DCS-16 DPF Cleaning Machine at ST Garage. - Credit: ST Garage

Q: How do I know if my DPF is blocked?

A: If your car has less power, you need to fill it up with fuel more than usual, and a warning light appears on your dashboard, this could be a sign that there’s a problem with your DPF. If your car is quite new, it may display a ‘check DPF’ light on your dashboard.

It’s always best to get your car looked over by a mechanic if a warning light appears.

Q: Can the DPF be fixed if it gets clogged up?

A: Originally, the only way to remedy a blocked DPF was to replace it, and this can be costly. However, you can now get your DPF thoroughly cleaned to prevent it from causing further damage to your car and save you money.

There are a lot of do-it-yourself DPF cleaning solutions available, but these can do more harm than good. Our DCS-16 DPF Cleaning Machine expertly cleans up to 99pc of the inside of the filter, leaving it clear and almost completely debris-free. We offer a six-month warranty on this service for peace of mind, but, so far, all of our customers have been satisfied with the results.

Currently, we are the only garage in Huntingdon to offer this service – all work is done on-site (some garages have to send cars away for the DPF to be cleaned) which means it can be done in a day, rather than a week.

In rare cases, if you have an older car, replacing the DPF can be cheaper than cleaning it, as a lot of time may need to be spent on it. We would always review the damage and advise you on the best course of action before working on your car.

Q: You’re an RAC approved garage: what does this mean?

A: We are one of only two garages that are approved by RAC in the area, and we’re very proud of this. To achieve this status, we had to successfully undergo a lot of inspections – RAC set high standards and only endorse garages that meet these. 

Customers can feel safe in our knowledge and professionalism and rely on our expertise.

We understand that trusting somebody with your car can be difficult – we try and put ourselves in our customer’s shoes and explain our diagnosis and processes as clearly as possible.

Andrei Udrea, director of ST Garage in Huntingdon

Andrei Udrea, director of ST Garage in Huntingdon. - Credit: ST Garage

Q: How can I book my car in?

A: You can contact us via phone or Facebook. Our doors are always open and we’re happy to discuss things and book your car in face-to-face if you prefer. 

Visit st-garage.co.uk for more information. Call 01480 718471 or message @stgaragehunt on Facebook to book.