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DPF Smoke Signals
March 5, 2019 Char Lee
In Blog

Smoke Colours from a DPF equipped vehicle

A diesel particulate filter (DPF) is designed to filter soot from a diesel-powered vehicle’s exhaust, so smoke coming from the exhaust is always cause for further investigation.

White smoke

White smoke from a DPF-equipped vehicle can be unburnt and vaporised diesel fuel being produced.

Unlike a coolant leak, the smoke will have a distinctive diesel fuel smell

It is the result of excessive fuel passing through the combustion chamber and through the DPF. It can be caused by injector(s) leaking or continual failed attempts at DPF regeneration, or in some cases very low compression.

When a vehicle with this condition warms up and this unburnt diesel fuel does finally combust, it causes, in effect, an out-of-control regeneration. Temperatures of more than 2700ºC can be reached that can melt the DOC, DPF and sensors.

This is an issue on a number of vehicles when cold especially those with a dedicated fifth injector for DPF regen.

This injector is known to stick open, dumping unburnt fuel into the DPF and causing the vehicle to blow white smoke from start up until the DOC reaches combustion temperature when it ignites, causing out-of-control regeneration and blowtorch-like effect on the DPF internals.

Black smoke

Black smoke should not be present in a DPF-equipped vehicle because the DPF is a soot filter.

Black smoke indicates that the DPF core has either melted or cracked and is no longer an effective filter.

It indicates that the DPF needs to be replaced. The underlying cause of the issue, too, must be identified and rectified or the replacement DPF will fall prey to the same fate.

Blue smoke

Like black smoke, blue smoke from a DPF-equipped vehicle indicates serious damage, including blockage to the DPF’s internals.

As in any vehicle this can be an indicator of leaking turbo oil seals, the crankcase overfilling, a positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) valve fault or a severely worn engine.

It indicates that the DPF needs to be replaced. The underlying cause of the issue, too, must be identified and rectified or the replacement DPF will fall prey to the same fate.

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