As you may have read in the news today, van drivers may soon find themselves having to fork out rather large expenses as a result of diesel particulate filters becoming clogged up during rather short distance journeys. Diesel particulate filters will need to be fitted to vans in order to comply with Euro 5 emissions regulations that are being implemented.
So, what is a diesel particulate filter?
A diesel particulate filter acts as a reducing agent within the exhaust system of a diesel vehicle. Most diesels will produce smoke under heavy load and thus produce a large amount of pollutants. The diesel particulate filter basically acts as a sieve to decrease the amount of pollutants that are expelled by the diesel engine. Pollutants from diesel engines are known as “particulate matter”. Of course, this is not the only pollutant, however, others are in such low volume when compared to petrol engines that they are not classed as significant.
It’s a clever little system then!
However, there are a number of problems with diesel particulate filters. Gradually they get clogged up with so much particulate matter that the engine’s efficiency reduces, along with the performance of the vehicle. Imagine breathing through a straw with cotton wool jammed up it! Tough stuff indeed. When this occurs, a diesel particulate filter needs to be replaced, which, as you will be well aware by now, is very expensive. This on top of other van costs, such as general maintenance and commercial vehicle insurance, can lead to mounting costs for van drivers.
Managing a diesel particulate filter can also be a hassle. Many companies advise owners to keep the engine above 2,500 rpm for a time period of around 20 minutes. This will enable the filter to reach its operating temperature in order to then burn off any particulate matter. This therefore stops the filter clogging up. However, this can only really be achieved on motorway journeys, and if you only travel short distances within a city or around towns then it may be the case that you will not need to venture onto a motorway. Maybe commit to taking your van on a motorway once every month in your spare time?! You should find it helps!
There are however a number of good points regarding diesel particulate filters. They are effective, and in modern diesels, they do help to reduce emissions enough to warrant the lower tax bands. Furthermore, modern diesel engines, through significant improvements in fuel quality, calibration and quality control in production, are becoming the benchmark.