Thirty years ago, a diesel-engined rig was synonymous with air pollution. The tractor would often belch out some jet-black smoke as it was trying to crest a steep incline; it's little wonder that the environmental lobby was so active. Fast forward to today and these vehicles are incredibly sophisticated when it comes to dealing with this problem. Much of their success can be attributed to the diesel particulate filter (DPF), now fitted to each vehicle. Yet it is important to keep up with this technology and ensure that each vehicle in your fleet is properly managed, especially as you will be under the watchful eye of a regulator. What do you need to do to keep your DPF in order?
Understanding the Filter
While the primary role of this filter is to cut down on air pollution, an inadequately maintained unit will eventually lead to engine problems, poor performance and expensive repairs. Some filters may be relatively automatic, but others are not, and you need to know what type is fitted to your vehicle.
How This Works
Soot is a by-product of engine operation and in the past would simply be released into the air. Now, it is captured within a diesel particulate filter using ceramic or ceramic-composite material in the larger truck. As you can imagine, such a filter can only trap a certain amount of soot before it gets blocked, which is where the DPF comes into its own. Within each filter mechanism is a special heat activator, which will burn off the soot at predetermined intervals. This will leave a certain amount of residue in the form of ash but get rid of the majority of the problem.
Automatic or Manual?
This regeneration process can be either manual, automatic or semiautomatic. Sometimes, the vehicle's computer will automatically regulate the back pressure and initiate the process of regeneration at the right moment. In other words, the computer will instruct the engine to go faster while generating heat; this air will flow through the filter when travelling down the motorway.
However, the driver may be responsible for initiating the process if a manual filter is fitted instead. As such, it is crucial for both the owner and the driver to be aware of the technology in place and to ensure that it is correctly handled in every case.
From time to time, each filter will need to be properly cleaned to get rid of the ash by-product. Always ensure that you take the vehicle into a professional truck repair specialist so that they can do this job and get you back onto the road quickly.