Are there Cracks in Your Current DPF Cleaning Process?
DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) cleaning plays a crucial role in the maintenance of diesel engines, particularly since environmental regulations have mandated the use of DPFs to reduce emissions. Many facilities are offering these specialized services, but they don’t always get it right. So, fleet owners and operators must ensure their vehicles remain compliant with emission standards and operate efficiently.
Cochrane shared an eye-opening incident about a DPF that was presented as “clean” by an outsource DPF cleaning service provider but showed signs of unregenerated soot.
“I was speaking to a gentleman that was interested in purchasing some of our Filtertherm DPF cleaning equipment… And he had indicated that he’s currently having his filters cleaned by an outside source and I asked who that might be and he gave me a name. Out of curiosity, I visited their website and I was shocked that they had photos of before and after, and the after photos had what appears to be black spaghetti poking out of the holes…”
“Now if you’re not familiar with DPF cleaning, you may not realize what those are. It’s unregenerated soot that is still in the cell walls. To us that’s not a clean filter. It needs to be baked at least one more time.
… My concern is how many other shops are out there without the experience to understand what a clean DPF looks like and how many fleets receive DPFs back without really checking, as the saying goes ‘trust but verify’…”
A subpar DPF cleaning can lead to a series of mechanical issues and increased costs for fleets.
“You’re not going to get any reliable service life out of that filter before it needs to be pulled again and cleaned… It causes all sorts of questions to be raised when really the root cause is the original filter was not cleaned properly…”
Additionally, “the engine’s going to start regenerating or ask for manual regenerations more frequently. You’re going to get performance issues. High back pressure can cause turbo problems, EGR problems, all sorts of issues. So having a clean filter on your vehicle is pretty important.”
Improperly cleaned DPFs don’t just reduce the filter’s service life. They can cause a chain reaction of problems, including compromised engine performance, turbo and EGR issues, and frequent regeneration cycles. These issues don’t just affect vehicle performance—they also lead to increased operational costs due to additional downtime and diagnostic work.
“Trust, but Verify” Is Essential After a DPF Cleaning
The conversation emphasized the importance of verifying the cleanliness of DPFs after servicing. Irvine and Cochrane advised seeking tangible proof, such as documentation of the filter’s weight and flow tests before and after cleaning, as well as conducting a physical inspection using a pin test.
Cochrane: “Look for documentation. Many of the DPF equipment manufacturers such as Filtertherm, have software packages that allow you to track DPF cleanings and report on what you’re seeing when the DPF comes through the door…”