The process by which diesel particulate filters burn off soot, or DPF regeneration, is essential for the proper functioning of a vehicle. Here are some common mistakes people make that cause DPF regeneration to not work properly and speed up the degradation of the automobile.
Shorts Trips with Active Regeneration
If your vehicle has the 'active' regeneration for DPF instead of the passive kind, then you often need to run the car long enough in order to burn off all of the particles since the system won't be engaged all the time. The active systems mean that you need to travel at typically 40 miles per hour or for at least 10 minutes in order to get the cycle going at full blast.
When the soot in the filter gets up to approximately halfway or even a bit less, the burn-off system will engage, but often not fully. You need the post fuel injection temperature to get up high enough that it turns the particles to harmless, fine ash. Too many short trips may cause too much build up as the cycle doesn't fully finish every time.
Ignoring the Warning Light
The DPF warning light will come on when the soot level reaches a high enough level, often over 50%. This is when you should take it particularly seriously. Often, simply driving for longer than 10 minutes will cause the cycle to complete if you have an active system. If it happens when you have a passive system, there could be a problem with your system and you should definitely go get it checked out if at all possible.
Many systems have something called "forced regeneration" if the active regeneration fails to work well enough and the system rises past 70% capacity. This means that you have a serious problem and need to more than keeping the car running enough to burn it all off. It's common for other warning lights to come on at this stage. Which is why you'll need diagnostic tools to help.
If you can't do this yourself, you'll need to bring it to professionals (such as those from Regeneration Services LLC) for help. If it gets too high, you won't even be able to use the regeneration system at all and the whole thing will have to be removed for cleaning. You may even need to replace the whole unit. That's why prevention is so important.
Overall, if you avoid these mistakes, you should be able to stay clear of unnecessary repairs. The key is to make sure you use your car's natural system for removing soot.