Diesel Particulate Filters: Should You Clean Or Replace?

Nations worldwide have taken measures to control those human activities that adversely affect the environment, especially the deterioration of the ozone layer. These activities include improper waste disposal and air pollution. One visible source of air pollution is the exhaust from motor vehicles.

In Europe, The Euro 5 or the emission standards require all diesel cars to be installed with a mechanism to control their emissions. The device is called the diesel particulate filter (DPF), which works as a soot trap so your car won’t emit clouds of soot while on the road. It filters diesel cars’ emissions to maintain clean air and avoid pollution. These filters are usually made from silicon carbide or cordierite, which traps all soot particles from your car engine’s exhaust.

Because of the amount of soot to filter each car running day, these filters have to be cleaned or replaced for these parts to effectively do the job. Some diesel car owners get their particulate from companies like OEM Surplus and other surplus vehicle parts suppliers. Other mechanics and car owners prefer to purchase replacements from auto parts dealers near them.

You could be debating whether you should simply clean the diesel particulate filter to save money or whether you should just replace it to save time and effort.

How Much Does It Cost?

The cost of cleaning services against filter replacement is one of those considerations. Diesel particulate filter replacement cost widely varies depending on engine make and power. Luxurious car brands understandably cost more than those common brands. Prices of brand-new particulate filters for diesel engines range from USD$3,000 to USD$10,000. The price of filter materials and parts is the primary contributor to this cost estimate.

A diesel particulate filter in the exhaust system in a car on a lift in a car workshop, seen from below.

Why Should You Opt For Replacement?

  • Have spare cash for it
  • Car use is a necessity
  • No time to spare
  • No trusted cleaning services nearby
  • No alternative mode of transportation 

What’s The Advantage Of Cleaning?

Other car owners prefer to clean their diesel engine’s filter by themselves to save on servicing costs. Some have mechanical skills either as part of their daily work or just gain it from experience. Individuals who are into motorsports are likely to have a good idea of how to tinker with their own car.

Preparing your budget for a trip may be easier if you know how to clean and properly maintain your truck, especially its filters. Keeping your DPF in good condition will help avoid replacement or cleaning services costs that may hurt your budget while planning to enjoy your vacation. That’s why most diesel car owners maximize the availability of warranty services to keep their DPF in shape.

Following maintenance instructions from manufacturers like pre-heating the engine will also help keep your diesel vehicle in good running condition. It’s also a saving device to periodically clean your DPF and avoid costly material replacement. In-depth familiarity with the manufacturer’s maintenance specifications will help you save on maintenance costs. Compressed air, heat, or even a combustion cycle booth are some possible cleaning options, depending on the manufacturer, the model, and the specifics of the unit.

The most common problem confronting motorists and vehicle owners is an early degradation of the DPF and a decrease in its efficiency. Cleaning your DPF from all those accumulated soot and oil will preserve its useful life. You can take advantage of some self-help standards that may be applicable for your car that help you maintain DPF far longer.

When To Clean And When To Replace?

While some studies claim that new exhaust technology lowers diesel car emissions, you’re still tied to the fact that you need to clean or replace your DPF. Your DPF’s life may last along with the life of your diesel vehicle. It depends mainly on how well you cleaned and maintained it so that no damaging particles are accumulated to reduce its performance. Experts recommend that DPFs are cleaned every 150,000 to 200,000 miles.

Otherwise, its soot or ash hardens and causes the filter to crack, damaging your DPF and requiring replacement. You’ll also know that your DPF needs replacement when you notice that it’s often regenerating on its own. It also signifies that it needs replacement when particles and soot accumulate and fill quickly.

As you drive your car, you’ll know that something’s not right when too much smoke is emitted from your vehicle. Either an enforcer or a fellow motorist will call your attention to it. Maybe it’s high time you replace your DPF.

Bottom Line

Sometimes, cleaning or replacing your DPF isn’t a matter of choice, but it’s more of a need. Cleaning because it’s still manageable and cheaper is better for your budget. However, timing your DPF cleaning and maintenance times will help you save more money than when you have to pay for vehicle repair costs, especially if your car broke down because you were too busy to bother with car maintenance.

Maintaining or replacing your DPF not only saves the environment but also will save you, not only your budget.

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