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Cleaning of mechanical parts may sound dull and unimportant; diesel cars internals will always be dirty right? Wrong, internal mechanical components remaining in a clean and efficient working state is vitally important, it could save you from breakdowns and may just extinguish a dashboard light or two.
Diesel particulate filters are an emissions regulating device, fitted to most diesel cars for the past two decades. The filter unit is found within the cars exhaust system and is designed to capture harmful emissions expelled from the engine. The aim of the filter is to minimise toxic emissions created by diesel engines.
DPF’s only have a limited capacity. Over time they become full, due to the accumulation of soot and hydrocarbon particles. This will lead to poor engine performance, dashboard warning lights and can cause the car to enter its “limp home” mode (restricted speed and revs). Cars that are used for short journeys will cause soot to build-up more quickly as the exhaust cannot reach the levels required to self-regenerate. Cleaning and servicing of this filter however, will ensure that issues do not arise in the longer term.
With tightening emissions targets and new low emission zones appearing in most major UK cities, DPF’s have never held so much relevance within the motoring industry.
The Difference Between Cleaners and Regenerators
Though often confused with one another, regenerators and cleaners are essentially the same solution, they are in all essence, the same product with different labels. Hence, for the purpose of this article we will refer to them as cleaning solutions.
Cleaning solutions allow blockages to be removed more efficiently at lower temperatures and safely remove soot particles from the filter, allowing airflow to return to optimal levels. This ensures that when diesel is combusted it creates less soot and hydrocarbons, while the contaminants that are created will have a lower evaporation temperature than with regular diesel.
In plain English, after application, debris will be cleaned from the DPF in normal driving scenarios. This essentially allows the vehicle to clean its own DPF filter, without the need for professional services. Some formulas will also leave a coating on the filter itself, helping prevent blockages from reoccurring, whilst solving current issues being caused by DPF blockage and helping prevent further issues appearing down the road.
Simply removing the filter to prevent issues was common in previous years but is illegal in the UK. Removing the DPF can lead to a fine (up to £1,000) and could invalidate your insurance policy, while definitely leading to a failed MOT.
Types of DPF Cleaner
There are three main product types to consider, when searching for a DPF cleaning solution you can implement at home. Each gives its own benefits and downfalls, but the choice will ultimately be based on the time and skills of the vehicle owner/ mechanic.
DPF Cleaning Additive
Arguably the most common and definitely the easiest method of DPF cleaning, perfect for those without mechanical experience or the right tools and space. Pour-in additives are simply added into a nearly full fuel tank and mixed with the diesel before making their way into the engine. Here the mixture will combust and begin to clear the DPF filter in the method explained above.
This is the least invasive method, requires the smallest amount of time by far and offers effective results. The only downside to additives, when compared with spray and off-car solutions is that the cleaning effect is less direct and cannot be seen working.
Key points on additive DPF cleaners:
- Easy to implement
- Time efficient
- Simply added to fuel tank
- Results less direct and possibly less effective than alternative methods
DPF Cleaning Spray
Spray solutions require a little extra time and know-how when compared to additive pour-in products. Sprays offer a more direct effect on the filter and should be able to loosen and remove debris that additive solutions simply cannot budge. Though much rarer, spray solutions are still relatively easy to get your hands on and offered from a variety of leading brands.
Spray cleaners are administered directly into the filter via an oxygen or pressure sensor bung in the exhaust. Simply remove the existing sensor and attach the provided tube, spray into the exhaust and replace the removed sensor. It does require a couple of basic tools, possibly a way to get underneath the vehicle and a little extra time but should yield very impressive results.
Key points on DPF spray cleaners:
- Slightly more difficult to use than pour-in additives
- Directly applied into the exhaust system
- Removes tough build-ups
- Requires a little experience/ mechanical knowledge
Off Car DPF Cleaner
Undoubtedly the least common and most extensive method to clean the DPF filter is to use a solution that cleans the DPF, with the unit removed entirely from the vehicle. This is no task for the inexperienced home mechanic, requiring specialist tools and at least a few hours to implement. The results however, promise to beat all other options, this being a similar method to that implemented by many professional DPF cleaning services.
With the DPF removed from the vehicle, the solutions are either used as a bath for the filter or are poured directly into the unit. Once soaked in, the DPF then needs to be thoroughly rinsed with warm water and dried completely before being re-attached to the exhaust system.
Key points on off-car cleaners:
- Suitable for professionals and experienced home mechanics
- Time intensive process
- Less widely available than competing methods
- Best way to ensure thorough cleaning of the DPF
The Best DPF Cleaner Additives on the Market
JLM Diesel DPF Cleaner
Our first offering in the additive sector comes from Netherlands-based additive firm, JLM lubricants. Though they are relative newbies in the sector (established in 2010), the firm are making waves in the additive market thanks to their scientifically engineered and rigorously tested formulas. The company prides itself on creating professional level products for the regular user, that can outperform the products from rival brands.
JLM claims that their DPF cleaner will not only remove soot and build-ups but will also help to prevent future issues arising. They claim that their bespoke formula reduces the hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and soot emitted via combustion by up to 25%, keeping the DPF cleaner for longer. In turn this cleaning effect will promote increased fuel economy, reduced emissions and a longer service life for the filter unit.
The product is safe for use on all DPF equipped vehicles. The entire contents of the bottle are added to at least 60 litres of diesel fuel (use less than the entire product for vehicles with a smaller fuel tank) and driven in any scenarios (including slow, town driving) in order for the product to begin taking affect.
- Scientifically proven formula
- Reduces hydrocarbon and soot emissions
- Prolongs the life of the DPF
- Cleans the DPF and keeps it clean
- Allows the DPF to clear itself, even in low-speed town driving
- More expensive than rivals
- No claims of biodiesel compatibility
Wynn’s Diesel Particulate Filter Cleaner
Wynn’s is a company that customers have come to expect good things from. The US brand has been in operation for over 80 years and continues to amass huge sales across the globe, thanks to their time-proven, effective product lines. Wynn’s have always specialised in easily applied vehicle additives that really work, something they claim passes right down to their basic consumer products, such as their DPF cleaning additive.
Like rival products, Wynn’s formula promises to clean the DPF filter and keep it clean, reducing exhaust emissions of carbon and soot that cause the blockages in the first place. A clean DPF, they claim, will give more efficient combustion, resulting in restored fuel economy and performance to any diesel vehicle. After using, your vehicle should be able to clean the DPF without further actions or other products, even in regular driving scenarios.
Wynn’s DPF cleaner not only is suitable for all vehicles running a DPF filter, but will also work with cars powered by biodiesel fuel (up to a rating of B30). The bottles contents are added to a minimum of 40l of fuel, with the brand advising to use their product every 3rd tank for optimum results.
- Well trusted brand
- Cleans DPF and reduces the chances of future blockage
- More efficient combustion and increased fuel economy
- Easy to apply, no dismantling required
- Works with biodiesel vehicles up to B30
- Doesn’t carry the scientific backing and research of JLM’s product
Redex Diesel Particulate Filter Cleaner
Our last additive solution is a more budget-oriented product, from legendary brand Redex. Claiming to be the UK’s No. 1 automotive additive brand, the company has now been operating for almost one hundred years (est. 1922). In that time, they have established their products as the consumer budget choice for exceptional results without huge outlays. They hold a large range of products and can be found everywhere from the internet to your local supermarket.
Redex’s DPF cleaner claims it can clean and reactivate any DPF filter, allowing efficient cleaning of diesel vehicle emissions, as the manufacturer intended. Without the need for costly dismantling, the product will, they promise, clear DPF blockages quickly and extinguish that pesky dashboard light, whilst alleviating poor running symptoms. Redex’s nano-metal oxide is claimed to be 30% more effective than alternative mixtures, reducing the exhaust soot’s burning temperature and allowing the DPF to remove blockages without further assistance.
Easy to apply, simply empty the contents into an almost-full tank of fuel and drive for the product to take effect. Redex recommends applying every 2-3 tanks of diesel in order to achieve the best results.
- Budget friendly
- UK-based brand
- Nearly 100 years of experience in additive products
- Allows the DPF to burn off soot in any driving scenario
- Clears DPF blockages and solves related issues
- Doesn’t carry the scientific backing and research of JLM’s product
- No claims of biodiesel compatibility
The Best DPF Cleaning Sprays on the Market
JLM Diesel DPF Cleaning Spray
In an effort to cover all bases when it comes to DPF cleaning, JLM also offer a spray solution, alongside their pour-in additive. Like the additive solution, the spray DPF cleaner offers professional level results for all customers, with a highly tested and extensively researched product.
A fast and effective cleaning of the DPF is promised, via direct application into the filter housing with the included tube. The thorough cleaning power should prolong the service life of the filter, thanks to reduced hydrocarbon and soot emissions and lowered temperature at which the soot can be removed from the DPF. JLM claims that the product contains high levels of active ingredients to clean and dissolve the dirt.
Useful in all vehicles than run DPF’s, the solution can be used by anyone with some basic tools and knowledge. After spraying into the DPF simply replace any removed sensors and drive to reap the full benefits.
- Scientifically researched and proven formula
- Applied directly to the DPF
- Prolongs the useful life of the DPF
- Lowers soot and hydrocarbon emissions
- High levels of active ingredients for maximum cleaning effect
- More expensive than rival brands
K2 DPF Cleaner Spray
Though relatively unknown here in the UK, K2 has been carving a reputation throughout Europe as an upcoming brand for all things automotive. From cosmetics to fragrances, cleaning products, additives and even engine oils, K2 will likely have an offering to benefit most motorists. Over the past 25 years of operation, the company has received high levels of good customer reviews and continues to expand its line-up, leading to products like their DPF cleaning spray.
This cleaning spray promises a removal of carbon and ash deposits without the need for any dismantling. Restoring the DPF to full working order, will allow the engine to run efficiently once more, releasing lost power and performance, restoring fuel economy and eliminating issues caused by filter blockages.
After applying the product directly into the exhaust via an oxygen sensor hole, replace the sensor and run the vehicle for at least 15 minutes, to allow the DPF to heat up and the product to penetrate. Following this, K2 recommends a drive for at least 30 minutes to achieve the best cleaning results.
- Well trusted automotive enhancement products
- Removes carbon and ash from the filter
- Restores the engine to full working order
- Efficient running and restoration of lost performance
- No promises of reduced soot or carbon emissions from the engine
Silverhook Diesel Particulate Filter Cleaner Spray
Though maybe not as well known as some competitor brands, UK-based Silverhook promises great things from their extensive product portfolio. Established at almost the exact same time as K2, the past 25 years have allowed the company to thrive and expand their line-up thanks to high quality products and extensive quality control measures. Silverhook pride themselves on keeping all manufacturing in the UK and promote working with local suppliers and increasing local job opportunities.
Silverhook’s DPF spray cleaner attacks from a similar angle as rival products, loosening and removing the baked-on soot, ash and carbon particles from the DPF, thanks to direct cleaning. Flushing out these particles, they promise, will allow the filter to function correctly once again and filter the exhaust emissions as the manufacturer intended.
Suitable for all diesel vehicles equipped with a DPF, the cleaning spray can also be used to unblock and clean EGR valves which are working inefficiently thanks to blockages and dirt build-ups.
- Most budget friendly offering
- UK-based manufacturer
- Strict quality control measures
- Loosens and removes deposits from the DPF
- Can also be used on stuck EGR valves
- Less well-known brand when compared to competitors
- No promises of reduced soot or carbon emissions from the engine
The Best Off Car DPF Cleaner on the Market
Forte Off-Car DPF Cleaner
Undoubtedly the most expensive and niche product here, this off-car cleaner uses proven results and high efficiency to offset the high cost and extensive dismantling, to make this product extremely worthwhile for those with the ability and time to remove the DPF filter from their vehicle.
Forte is no stranger to vehicle enhancing products, with the UK firm being active for over 40 years in the sector. They work first-hand with professional mechanics and engineers, to formulate products that are not only effective but are also relevant to the specific problems experienced by UK motorists and the garages they trust.
Forte promises that the use of their off-car cleaner will allow for removal of all debris and dirt from the DPF, restoring full functionality and preventing the need for highly expensive replacement parts. They promise that a DPF that can work properly will allow for the restoration of lost performance and fuel economy, along with the clearing of DPF-blockage related issues.
The product requires first, the removal of the DPF. Once removed the contents of the product are sprayed directly into the filter via the hole closest to the rear of the exhaust. After allowing to dwell and activate for 20 minutes, the DPF should be rinsed through with warm water and fully dried before fitting back into the exhaust system.
- Highly effective cleaning of the DPF
- Visible results thanks to off-car application
- UK brand working with industry professionals
- Prevents need for DPF replacement
- Restores performance and lost fuel economy
- Requires dismantling of exhaust components
- More expensive and time consuming than alternative methods
If you own a diesel vehicle and commonly perform short journeys, the comparatively small outlay for one of the above products could prolong the life of your DPF filter and save you hundreds, if not thousands of pounds. All of these products are highly regarded and will cost you considerably less than DPF garage services, while also requiring less time and effort (unless using an off-car product).
DPF cleaning and regenerating additives can give safe and fast results including improved performance, better fuel economy and lower harmful emission levels. DPF cleaning products have been on the market for many years now, as a viable alternative to costly garage cleaning/ replacement of the filter unit.
Some of these products will even go the extra step, cleaning some of your diesel engines internal parts and lessening the chance of future build-ups. This will promote efficient running, long-term reliability and excellent performance for your vehicle. The improvement in fuel economy could also lead to these products actually saving you money over the following months and years. This could be just the solution you were looking for.
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