Diesel particulate filters - everything you need to know

Diesel particulate filters have been the cause of some seriously hefty repair bills. Here we tell you what they are, what can go wrong and how to keep your car’s DPF in tip-top condition...

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Claire Evans
3 Mar 2016 11:11 | Last updated: 25 Sep 2018 09:46

The problems some car owners have had with DPFs has raised concerns among car buyers, prompting many to ask if they should I buy a car with a DPF.

Whether you should choose to buy a diesel car with a DPF fitted depends on the amount and type of driving you will be doing.

If you do the majority of your driving at urban speeds and hardly ever take your car on a dual carriageway or motorway, you’re better off choosing petrol over diesel and saving yourself from potential hassles and extra expense.

Also, if you drive less than 12,000 miles a year, you may also be better off with a petrol car. Diesel cars are generally more expensive to buy new, and it will take a long time for the improved fuel economy that they offer to make back the extra money you spent when you originally bought the car.

If you do a lot of faster driving, then you should have no problems with a DPF, as long as you follow the recommendations in the car’s handbook and pay attention to any warning lights.

If you’re thinking of buying a used diesel car with a diesel particulate filter, bear in mind that DPFs can last up to around 100,000 miles if cared for properly. After the car has exceeded that mileage, you could be looking at paying a large amount of money for a replacement.

Can’t the DPF just be removed?

It’s illegal to drive a car that was designed to have a DPF without having one fitted. This is because should you remove it, your car will no longer meets its emissions standards.

From February 2014, checking the presence of a DPF became part of the MoT test procedure. All cars that are designed to have a DPF now get inspected for one, and if it’s missing it will mean an immediate failure.

If you’re considering buying a second-hand diesel car that you suspect originally had a DPF fitted, make sure you ask the owner if it has been removed and check that the car has a recent MoT test certificate.

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