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DPF filter cleaning: effective methods and costs

DPF filter cleaning

How much does it cost to clean a DPF? What are the possible methods for this type of work? Fitted on the majority of recent vehicles, the diesel particulate filter (DPF) helps to limit the pollutant emissions generated by the engine. To prevent it clogging up and causing the vehicle to malfunction, it must be serviced regularly.

What is a diesel particulate filter (DPF)?

The diesel particulate filter (DPF) is anti-pollution equipment that is an integral part of the exhaust line. Positioned after the catalytic converter, it enables toxic particles from fuel combustion to be retained. In practical terms, the DPF operates in two phases:

  1. Filtration: the filter will store the fine particles from the engine in its cells. Over time, they will tend to accumulate in the form of soot and clog the DPF, or even block it. The regeneration phase is designed to limit this clogging.
  2. Regeneration: this self-cleaning process for the DPF requires the engine to be run at high speed (3,000 rpm) to reach a temperature of 550°C. It is at this temperature level that the filter is able to burn and remove the soot previously collected.

For the regeneration phase to work, you need to drive regularly on fast lanes or motorways (the only way to reach a high exhaust temperature). In other words, if you drive mainly in town, your particulate filter will tend to clog up more quickly. When the DPF is too clogged, it is no longer able to regenerate and a specific warning light appears on your dashboard. You then have several options for cleaning the filter.

Did you know? Vehicles fitted with a DPF are subject to special standards when it comes to choosing an engine oil. In fact, when the engine burns, a tiny quantity of oil reaches the exhaust. If you’re not careful about the type of oil you use, it can contain metal particles that can clog the DPF. To avoid this, it is necessary to choose the type of engine-oil recommended by the manufacturer within the vehicle’s user manual.

What methods are there for cleaning the DPF?

When the DPF filter is too clogged, it is necessary to clean it quickly. You’ll often avoid the need for a professional and the very expensive replacement of the part. The DPF can be cleaned in two different ways:

  • By using a DPF cleaner.
  • By performing a engine descaling.

It may be useful to point out that these two DPF cleaning operations can be carried out without dismantling, and are therefore accessible to everyone.

1. Use a DPF cleaner

Simple and effective, the use of a DPF cleaner can be carried out without going to a professional. It generally involves pouring an additive into the vehicle’s fuel tank, then driving for around twenty minutes at high engine speed (3000 rpm). The DPF cleaner will then help to eliminate the particles that have accumulated in the filter. Note that this type of additive can be used as a preventive or curative measure.

To help you make your choice, we’ve selected for you the best DPF cleaners on the market, offered at the best price. If we had to choose just two, we’d probably go for the Forte or the Wynn’s, which are particularly recommended by automotive professionals. Here is our selection of products for cleaning your particulate filter without dismantling it:

These products are reputed to be the most effective for cleaning a dirty DPF.

2. Descale the engine

More comprehensive than the first method, engine descaling involves removing all the carbon deposits (soot particles) present in the engine and its components (injector, valves, EGR valve, turbo, catalytic converter, particulate filter…). Descaling can be carried out in a number of different ways:

  • with a engine and DPF descaler: like the DPF cleaner, this additive is poured directly into the fuel tank and requires driving several dozen kilometres at high engine speed
  • by hydrogen injection: carried out at a garage, this method involves injecting a mixture of oxygen and hydrogen into the intake. The particles that have accumulated in the circuit are then loosened, burnt, and discharged through the exhaust. This is a highly effective method, often recommended when additives have not worked.
  • manually: carried out by a professional when the engine is damaged, this operation involves dismantling and cleaning the dirty engine components one by one.

Here are the most reputable engine descaling/cleaning products on the market, at the best prices currently available (choose the one that matches your engine: diesel or petrol):

Cleaning the DPF: when should it be done?

To avoid malfunctions, it is advisable to clean the DPF on a regular basis :

  • a “passive”cleaning, by driving on the motorway at high speed for 20 minutes once a month, especially if your daily journeys are mainly urban
  • a cleaning with an DPF cleaner once a year, to clean the filter and extend its life.

What symptoms should alert you?

Apart from preventive maintenance measures, some symptoms should alert you to the need to clean your diesel particulate filter:

  • your vehicle loses power: it struggles to accelerate, both when starting off and when you have to climb a hill
  • the DPF or engine light appears on your dashboard: this light means that your DPF is clogged or dirty
  • your vehicle has a tendency to stall on a regular basis: the engine seems to choke and eventually cuts out
  • your fuel consumption increases: as the engine tries to remove polluting particles, it overheats and needs more fuel than usual.

If any of the above situations occur, your first instinct should be to clean your vehicle’s filter as quickly as possible using a appropriate DPF cleaner.

When should I opt for engine descaling?

In the following, more serious cases, it is recommended that the engine be de-scaled using a de-scaling product or engine descaler :

  • your tailpipe emits black smoke: a fault in one or more engine components (including the DPF) prevents the fuel from burning completely, so the remainder is released in the form of black smoke via the tailpipe
  • the vehicle goes into “safety” mode: when one or more engine components are damaged, the engine automatically limits its performance or refuses to start to avoid major damage.

Don’t wait to clean your DPF, as you could face far more expensive consequences: a full descaling at your garage, the replacement of the filter or other engine parts.

What price should I consider for a DPF cleaning?

The price of diesel particulate filter cleaning depends mainly on who’s going to do it:

  • If you do this yourself, all you have to do is buy a can of additive online and follow the instructions. This will cost you between £15 and £30 for a quality DPF cleaning product.
  • If you delegate this task to a professional, the price will range from £150 to £500 minimum, depending on the type of cleaning to be carried out. Before cleaning the filter, the garage will usually charge you for a preliminary diagnosis (£30 to £50).

As you can see, cleaning the DPF is not something to be taken lightly! By maintaining it regularly with an additive, you can avoid disastrous consequences for your engine and its components, as well as costly servicing.

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This article is produced entirely independently of the brands mentioned. Certain links are likely to generate a commission intended to finance the operation of our site. Prices are given for information only and are subject to change.


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