What to do about your diesel particulate filter during lockdown

The coronavirus lockdown is forcing people to drive their cars less, which could be a problem for owners of modern diesels

One of the inevitable effects of the UK being placed on lockdown due to the Coronavirus is that we’re all driving our cars less. This could present a problem for anyone with a modern diesel car.

For some years now, diesel particulate filters (DPFs) have been fitted to all diesel cars; it’s been part of the UK MoT test since 2013. In short, these devices capture and store soot produced by diesel engines in order to reduce emissions.

The catch with DPFs is that they only have a limited capacity and at some point the excess soot needs to be burned off. In order to do that, the car needs to be driven for around 15 to 20 minutes at 2,500rpm or higher. This process is known as DPF regeneration.

The Independent Garage Association (IGA) has warned that if people are only using their diesel cars for short journeys during the lockdown, though, their DPFs might not be able to regenerate. The organisation advises owners of modern diesel cars to avoid using them for trips of less than 10 to 15 miles in order to avoid clogging up the DPF.

When a DPF has built up too much soot and hasn’t been able to burn it off, a warning light will come on. If this happens, you should not use your car at all until you can get it looked at by a garage.

It may be possible for a mechanic to use specialist equipment to carry out a forced DPF regeneration, which is the ideal outcome. If this can’t be done, though, a whole new filter may be required, and this can cost up to £3,000.

If drivers ignore the warning light and carry on using their car with a full DPF, they risk blocking the DPF altogether, in which case the car will enter limp-home mode.

If drivers of diesel cars are in any doubt about the state of their DPF and are unsure what to do, the IGA advises them to call a garage and seek expert mechanical advice.

Find out everything you need to know to care for your car during the lockdown with our 2020 Car Care Special...

Recommended

May new-car registrations up 674%
Ford Fiesta
News

May new-car registrations up 674%

Another impressive year-on-year increase for new-car registrations, but not enough to bring the market back to pre-Covid levels
4 Jun 2021
Geneva Motor Show rescheduled for 2022
Geneva
Geneva Motor Show

Geneva Motor Show rescheduled for 2022

The GIMS organisers have announced the event will return next year, after this year’s show was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic
28 May 2021
UK car production on the mend but not fully recovered
Production line
News

UK car production on the mend but not fully recovered

A total of 68,306 cars were built in the UK in April 2021, up 34,573 per cent from last year’s factory shutdowns, but still short of pre-Covid levels
26 May 2021
UK Driving tests restart but learner drivers face long waits
Driving test

UK Driving tests restart but learner drivers face long waits

Learner drivers in the UK face a 17-week wait between booking and taking their practical driving test
22 Apr 2021

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
Exclusive: Jaguar’s luxury reinvention to start from £100k
Thierry Bollore - Jaguar I-Pace
Jaguar

Exclusive: Jaguar’s luxury reinvention to start from £100k

New boss Thierry Bollore reveals that Jaguar will be reinvented as a luxury car brand to take on Bentley, with the design of a new family already sign…
22 Jun 2021
‘The 2030 combustion engine ban is just around the corner – and we’re running out of time’
opinion: charging
Opinion

‘The 2030 combustion engine ban is just around the corner – and we’re running out of time’

Andy Palmer sees electric car uptake revving-up in the UK but says targeted investment is needed to prevent a stall…
22 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport 45 2021 review
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport 45 - front
Volkswagen Golf GTI Hatchback

New Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport 45 2021 review

The new special edition Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport 45 is one of the best cars ever to wear the GTI badge
23 Jun 2021
New 2021 Ferrari 296 GTB launched with 819bhp V6 hybrid powertrain
Ferrari 296 GTB - front
Ferrari

New 2021 Ferrari 296 GTB launched with 819bhp V6 hybrid powertrain

The 205mph Ferrari 296 GTB supercar is powered by an all-new 2.9-litre plug-in hybrid engine
24 Jun 2021
New 2022 Honda Civic hatchback revealed with hybrid power
Honda Civic - front
Honda Civic

New 2022 Honda Civic hatchback revealed with hybrid power

New Honda Civic hatchback builds on almost 50 years of the nameplate with e:HEV electrified drivetrain
24 Jun 2021
New Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback 2021 review
Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback -
Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback

New Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback 2021 review

Audi has expanded its electric car portfolio with the Q4 e-tron Sportback - is it one of its best EVs?
23 Jun 2021
New Dacia Duster facelift launched with fresh styling and more tech
Dacia Duster facelift - front
Dacia Duster

New Dacia Duster facelift launched with fresh styling and more tech

The budget-conscious Dacia Duster has been updated for 2021 with some subtle design tweaks and a new eight-inch infotainment screen
22 Jun 2021
New Mercedes C-Class 2021 review
Mercedes C-Class - front
Mercedes C-Class

New Mercedes C-Class 2021 review

The new Mercedes C-Class compact exec gets S-Class-inspired tech and new suspension to challenge the BMW 3 Series
24 Jun 2021
Audi will launch final petrol and diesel cars in 2026
Audi petrol diesel
Audi

Audi will launch final petrol and diesel cars in 2026

Audi will phase out petrol power in Europe in 12 years’ time, with a new line-up of “more than 20 e-tron models” scheduled for launch by 2025
23 Jun 2021
New Toyota Yaris Cross prototype review
Toyota Yaris Cross prototype - front
Toyota Yaris Cross

New Toyota Yaris Cross prototype review

We drive a late prototype version of the new Toyota Yaris Cross to see if it has potential
24 Jun 2021
New 2021 Peugeot 308 SW estate arrives with more space
Peugeot 308 SW - front
News

New 2021 Peugeot 308 SW estate arrives with more space

The Peugeot 308 SW joins the hatchback in the range and arrives with two plug-in hybrid options
22 Jun 2021
'Bolloré's strategy is already having a good impact on Jaguar Land Rover'
Opinion JLR Thierry Bollore
Opinion

'Bolloré's strategy is already having a good impact on Jaguar Land Rover'

Steve Fowler says JLR CEO Thierry Bolloré's new approach is working wonders
24 Jun 2021
New Ferrari Portofino M 2021 review
Ferrari Portofino M - front tracking
Ferrari Portofino

New Ferrari Portofino M 2021 review

Have updates have made the drop-top Ferrari Portofino M better than ever? We find out...
22 Jun 2021