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Professional vs. DIY DPF Cleaning: The Pros and Cons
Business Technology

Professional vs. DIY DPF Cleaning: The Pros and Cons

Feb 29, 2024

If you own a vehicle running on diesel, you have probably heard of the Diesel Particulate Filter, otherwise known as DPF. They are widely used and are a proven reliable emission control product. DPFs are crucial in combatting harmful emissions and can become clogged progressively as it is being used, causing an increase in exhaust backpressure. This is because the Particulate Matter (PM) are collected by the DPF and is eventually clogged within the filter’s pores as it continues to reduce the harmful particles released from your vehicle’s diesel exhaust.

How much does DPF cleaning cost? 

Cleaning and regular maintenance of diesel particulate filters are thus essential in extending their serviceable life. DPF cleaning is important as the cost of replacing DPF is quite steep: for a standard DPF filter for traditional commercial vehicles, a replacement can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000! For larger vehicles, like that of a large freight truck, the cost can be anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000! And for the mining industry equipment (which the machines are monsters), you would expect it to be quite a bit more expensive. You would want to consult with professionals such as Mammoth Equipment to find out the costs involved.  

DPF maintenance’s importance cannot be understated. Vehicle owners are then faced with a choice: hire professional services or manage the job themselves at home through DIY methods.

This article shall provide a concise insight into the two methods, proposing the advantages and disadvantages of both approaches in order to aid your decision regarding diesel particulate filter cleaning. 

DIY DPF Cleaning: How to clean DPF yourself

DPF should be regularly checked and cleaned to ensure the smooth running of your vehicle. It is possible to conduct this at home by yourself but certain risks are present which could result in permanent or costly damage. Special attention and care must be paid during DIY DPF cleaning due to the delicate nature of the component.

We shall cover some basic steps to take to clean your dirty DPF and rid of the soot and ash trapped within:

DIY DPF Cleaning Method

1. Remove the Filter

First and foremost, the DPF must be removed from the vehicle in preparation for a deep and thorough clean. This sounds easier than it is as removing this component might mean removing other parts prior, depending on the vehicle type. Proceed with caution as unrepairable damage may be inflicted if done wrong.

 2. Examine The Filter

Secondly, after removing the filter, you should examine the filter to determine if there is any damage to the filter and how blocked it is. Determining how dirty the DPF is can be conducted through gauging whether the white or chrome surfaces of the filter are easily seen. The little you see, the higher the intensity of debris clogging.

3. Clean With Compressed Air 

This is one of the most common practices when cleaning DPF. Putting pressurised compressed air through the filter is a great way to dislodge any loose ashes gathered. It is recommended that you use a high volume of air distributed across the entire DPF substrate. Be vigilant of the state of the filter as it can be easily damaged if the air pressure is too high.

If you have access to a high-pressure cleaning cabinet, your DPF can be easily cleaned by just putting it in and cycling the machine a few times until all the cells are unblocked. This method isn’t as easily DIY as doing it with a nozzle by hand but would provide the best result when it comes to cleaning your DPF.

4. Rinse Off DPF With Water

After successfully cleansing your filter of all the soot and ash, use clean water to thoroughly wash your DPF.  This can be done using a hose, which can shoot out high-pressure water (there are specific nozzles that you can attach to get high pressure), and rinse the DPF down until the water running out of it is running clear.

5. DPF Chemical Cleaners

Lastly, the usage of DPF chemical cleaners is a surefire way of ensuring your DPF remains clean for an extended period of time. This is done as the chemical cleaner acts as a catalyst aiding the regenerative aspect of diesel particulate filters, speeding up the burning process as well as lowering the temperature needed to burn off the soot gathered.

The high temperatures produced by the engine during prolonged high-speed driving are not necessarily as high when trying to achieve the required heat for burning off the soot, thanks to the chemical cleaner.

This method has great accessibility with minimal risk of damaging the DPF as removal of the filter is not even required in most cases.

repairing of corrugation muffler of exhaust system in car workshop - old burnt corrugation muffler on set of tools

The Pros of DIY DPF Cleaning

Cleaning your diesel particulate filter yourself harbours many advantages:

  • Cost Effective: The DIY methods discussed are significantly cheaper than professional services, especially in the long term if you plan (and should do) regular check-ups.
  • Convenience: Cleaning can be done at the leisure of your own home or garage, eliminating the necessity of making and travelling to an appointment.
  • Self-Taught: Valuable hands-on experience can be gained from DIY cleaning and vehicle maintenance. Learning these skills would mean you are better equipped to conduct maintenance yourself in the future.
  • Control: Home DIY gives you full control of how the maintenance is done. From the products used to the methods deployed, DIYers can fully determine how their cleaning process is conducted.

 

The Cons of DIY DPF Cleaning

  • Risk of Damage: Doing it yourself opens you up to the possibility of failing. Improper techniques or using the wrong products can significantly damage your DPF or vehicle.
  • Time-Consuming: Cleaning it yourself would require investing time and effort in not only the cleaning process but also researching how to properly clean your specific DPF.
  • Effectiveness: DIY cleaning may not be as clean as that done by a professional. The extension of the serviceable life of the DPF is more guaranteed when enlisting the help of professional services who built their businesses around maintaining and cleaning specific components.

 

Professional DPF Cleaning 

Professional DPF Cleaning 

Hiring a professional service to clean your DPF is arguably the safest and most reliable way of cleaning your filter. Trained technicians possess the knowledge, experience and tools to thoroughly clean and restore the DPF’s functionality. You can leave your vehicle in their care and you can trust that they will provide a satisfactory and high-quality service.

The Pros of Professional DPF Cleaning 

  • Expertise: Trained professionals possess in-depth knowledge of the DPF system and the cleaning process, ensuring it is done effectively and with the required care in handling such components.
  • Specialised Equipment: Professional services have access to specialised tools to conduct proper DPF cleaning procedures. Tools such as the FSX TrapBlaster are highly effective in the DPF cleaning process. These specialised equipments are most effective in cleaning and are not easily accessible from a DIY standpoint. 
  • Compliance: Professional services can ensure compliance with emissions regulations in numerous regions.
  • Warranty Preservation: Various professional services offer warranties or guarantees for their work. Certain professional service providers offer up to 6 months warranty, ensuring peace of mind to vehicle owners.
  • Time-saving: Outsourcing DPF cleaning to professionals saves precious time when compared to DIY. You can trust that the process is being done by trusted and trained technicians while saving you the time and energy to be put into something more pressing to you.

The Cons of Professional DPF Cleaning 

  • Cost: Hiring professional DPF cleaning services can be a costly endeavour, especially if regular maintenance is required. The cost will start piling up fast leaving you to wonder whether you should’ve taken the time to learn how to clean it yourself.
  • Availability: Finding trusted and reliable service providers may be difficult depending on the region. This may lead to longer wait times or commutes if there are no providers in your vicinity.
  • Dependency: You are required to make an appointment to bring your vehicles into service. While it is being serviced, the downtime of your vehicle would be entirely dependent on how long the cleaning process is.

Closing Thoughts

Whether you opt to learn how to clean your diesel particulate filter yourself, or recruit professional services to do it for you, there are advantages and disadvantages. 

Vehicle owners will have to weigh their competence, budget, and specific needs before selecting between the options. 

Regardless of your choice, the target remains the same: ensuring the best cleaning and maintenance methods to ensure the DPF’s optimal operation efficiency and long-term functionality to operate a cleaner and more effective diesel vehicle.