How to clean a DPF

DPF Filter problems - Cleaning your DPF

"Turning off the DPF warning  light."

What is a DPF?

It is a particulate filter and helps to reduce the harmful particles which come from a diesel exhaust.

The filter essentially catches the harmful unburnt particles and when the engine gets hot enough it burns them off.

The DPF is located within the exhaust system, generally near to the engine. It should not be confused with a catalyst, whos primary job is to remove or reduce the exhaust emissions of Co2 and other gases.

The DPF is purely there to capture soot and particles from the exhuast.

The nearer it is to the engine, the hotter it gets, and the more effective it will be, where manufacturers have mounted them some way from the engine we hear of lots of problems with blocked DPF filters.

See our new how to clean a DPF video.


Why does the DPF need regenerating or a clean?

If you only do short journeys or keep the engine in low revs these particles will build up to the point that the DPF gets completely blocked.

When this happens the engine will not run and you need to replace the DPF filter.

Hopefully prior to this your cars ECU will notice the build up and warm you.

The warning light comes on to show that you need to alter your driving style to clear the DPF filter URGENTLY and this should NOT BE IGNORED.

The DPF may become too blocked to clear by driving, so don't ignore the warning light.

Act immediately or your only option will be to take the car to a garage for repair.

There is a narrow window where a mechanic can clean the DPF by forcing a regeneration but after this narrow window your only option is to fit a new filter to your car.

Some cars are fitted with DPF's have a separate tank for a fuel additive which allows the engine to burn off the carbon at a lower temperature.


The DPF will block up if you only do short low RPM journeys leaving you with a massive repair bill.

How to clear the DPF warning light by DPF cleaning.

Your cars handbook will have a section on cleaning your DPF or entering a regeneration cycle so we suggest you consult this as each car is slightly different.

Here is a generic guide though that should be effective on most engines.

Warm up the engine to operating temperature, then drive it for 15 minutes at constant speed on a motorway in a lower gear, you want the RPM to sit at around two thirds, certainly over 50% and for most engines this is somewhere around 3-4000 rpm.

Use a slower speed and lower RPM for 15 minutes, then repeat with another hot 15 minutes at around 2/3 of your RPM range.

Aim to keep the revs above 2000rpm for this period. The heat generated will help clean the DPF filter and the cars Regeneration cycle will usually kick in under these circumstances.

It is good practice to make this routine a part of your weekly drive, before the DPF warning light even comes on.

Warning: If the engine is misfiring or in limp home mode you should avoid high revs, build up the heat slowly and steadily and go for a longer run. Ideally you should take the car to a mechanic if it is misfiring to avoid further damage or problems.

DPF Cleaning fuel additives

Add some BG244 to your tank and go for a long motorway run at 70mph again keeping the revs above 2000 rpm. Other cleaners are available but BG244 is in our opinion the most effective on the market and is good at keeping the DPF filter clean.

Some cleaners are designed to maintain your DPF and keep it clean, others are designed to remove the carbon. The key difference is if they raise the engine burn temperature or not.

WARNING: Using an additive that raises your engine burn temperatures is not good if you are in a DPF cleaning cycle, as the engine is already raising it's temperature and in many cases this can result in damage to your DPF filter.

Professional DPF specialists often see heat damaged DPF's, and this is primarily caused by using the wrong additives.

How to avoid a blocked DPF.

Use good quality fuel. High Cetane fuel from major brands is laden with additives which help burn off the particles.

Cheap fuel usually adds to the problem. TorqueCars recommend Shell fuel, our tests have shown that this burns cleaner and leaves less deposits in your engine.

Avoid short journeys where the engine does not warm up fully and trips where the car is not able to maintain 2000rpm for 5 mins.

Use a good quality fuel additive such as BG244 to maintain a clean efficient engine.

Can the DPF be removed?

Yes it can but this this not generally legal in most countries and territories. A car which is supposed to have a DPF filter will fail it's annual inspection and will struggle to pass an engine emissions test.

If your DPF keeps getting blocked then this could be down to your driving style, or the engine could be running too rich, either case should be investigated further to prevent a recurrence of a blocked DPF.

Discuss DPF issues and problems with our members in our forum.

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Your Constructive comments on this article

2 Responses to “How to clean a DPF”

  1. Ryan Lomax says:

    Hi im Ryan the other day my warning light come on particular filler drive to clean than not 2.min later it come bk on saying exhaust filter at limit and the comes on service on and puts me in limp home mode and guy come out payed 250 for a dpf cleaning but at the end hes putted in to the obd and said 1/3 glow plugs our showing aswell as the particular fillter at limit drive to clean so he said he would come bk and clear it when i did the glow plugs well they was dont 2 days later he come bk plugged in the obd and cleared it drive not 30 min and it come bk on all tje same PLEASE HELP!!!! It a ford transit custom 2015 van 2.2TDI

  2. Paul says:

    Thanks for such inspiring education. My question is that will the car have a problem should you remove the dpf?

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