Last October a feature on the BBC’s Watchdog programme highlighted some of the problems that some motorists have reported with their new cars fitted with a Diesel Particulate Filter. In particular, the feature looked at the failure or near failure of DPFs on vehicles that mainly do local, urban driving.
For Diesel Particulate Filters to function effectively and to deliver the environmental benefits for which they are intended, these vehicles should be regularly run at higher speeds and for longer periods of time than most urban driving allows. Failure to do so can cause the DPF to become blocked resulting in a big bill for repair or, more likely, replacement.
Another significant, potential risk to the effective operation of DPFs is using the wrong engine oil. Both Diesel Particulate Filters and certain Catalytic Converters need what are known as ‘Low SAPS’ oils all of which are Low in Sulphated Ash and other harmful components which can cause premature failure of exhaust after treatment units.
Comma spokesperson Mike Bewsey explains: “All internal combustion engines burn some level of oil – it’s part of the design. As they burn, the resulting gases are released through the vehicle’s exhaust system. It is absolutely essential, whether a complete oil change or just a top-up is being carried out, that vehicles fitted with these exhaust after treatment units are fitted with the right grade of Low SAPS oil – these oils are especially designed to be lower in Sulphated Ash and other components that can be harmful to CATS and DPFs.”
While the technology isn’t brand new, it is certainly expected that problems with DPFs will become more commonplace, Bewsey explains: “The car parc is changing – there are more diesel cars on the roads and there is an increasing trend for environmentally friendly vehicles. As more of these vehicles fitted with DPFs start to come up for their first oil change or as they start to need top-ups, we expect to see more complaints of oil-related exhaust after treatment failure.”
Knowing which oil to use can be complicated: Comma’s own range of Performance Oils now includes 15 different grades. Diesel models account for around 50% of the overall new car market and nearly 120,000 small, diesel powered cars were sold last year.
Here at Mill Autoquip we use Comma’s recommendation service which is completely guaranteed to recommend the right type of oil for a given vehicle – even those vehicles that require a Low SAPS oil. So with regard to DPFs, if you use the engine oil that Comma recommends and you subsequently have an issue caused because of that product, then you’re covered.