How much does a diesel particulate filter replacement cost?

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How much does DPF replacement cost?

The cost of replacing a diesel particulate filter in a vehicle can range from $300 to $1,000 or more. This cost may vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle, as well as the location and accessibility of the filter. It is recommended to have the filter replaced by a certified mechanic to ensure proper installation and function. Additionally, regular maintenance can help prolong the lifespan of the filter and prevent costly replacements.

In this guide, we will consider DFF replacement costs and how you can have that work expertly done. And if you are a DIY person, you need to know that it is against the law to modify or remove the Diesel Particulate Filters on any vehicle, meaning professional help is required for this task.

How does the DPF work? 

Vehicles that use a DPF also have a catalytic converter, and they work together to reduce emissions. The latter, however, is a unit in which exhaust passes over a material that changes the gases into less harmful materials. The DPF is not a “flow-through” unit. It has a substrate through which gases are forced through various walls and where particles are deposited, allowing cleaner gases to exit the filter.

DPF has been around for more than a decade and seems to be a very confusing matter for many vehicle owners. Meant to capture approximately 80% of particulates and soot, the filters can become saturated. Yet, changing them right away is unnecessary as they can be heated from within and burn off the clogging particles.

Described by some as a smart filter, it uses sensors that can gauge the amount by which the filter is blocked up with soot. The sensors are before and after the PDF unit, and they run automatically and are controlled by an engine management array or system. The PDF uses a process called regeneration to burn off particles and soot, and there are three primary forms of regeneration:

  • Passive

  • Active

  • Forced

You should find out what type of regeneration your vehicle uses before starting a search for a PDF replacement provider.

Passive regeneration occurs when the vehicle is at a highway speed, and exhaust temperatures are their highest. It is done automatically, but active regeneration may be used if you are not driving at highway speeds.

The ECU or Engine Control Unit tracks the level of soot and particles in the PDF, and when it hits the 45% level, the ECU triggers a post-combustion fuel injection. This sends fuel into the engine to boost the temperature of the exhaust and cue the regeneration process. This is usually accompanied by an indicator on the vehicle’s dashboard, alerting a driver that DPF regeneration occurs.

Stopping this process forces a vehicle into a reduced power mode to prevent damage to the engine, and an array of warning indicators may fire. If this happens, the forced regeneration mode is required. This is when DPF becomes a very costly affair.

Forced regeneration means a tow to a repair shop and the use of diagnostic tools, and a forced process of regeneration in which the oil and oil filter are changed to prevent damage.

How long does a DPF last? 

Although these systems are meant to offer long term operations and function, a DPF may become too heavily clogged or blocked to allow for total regeneration. At such times, it may be necessary for the filter to be removed from the vehicle and professionally cleaned. This can be a costly service, with averages running from $350 to $500+ for a cleaning and $1000 or more for a new filter.

Most DPF is designed to provide up to 160k kilometres, but it can last much more with proper maintenance and operation.

What are the symptoms of a blocked DPF? 

A blocked DPF will cue the regeneration process, which means that the signs of a blocked DPF may be identical to active regeneration. The key is to watch for any indicators that the process failed since it is necessary to get a forced regeneration. The signs are:

  • Burning or “hot” odours from the exhaust

  • The vehicle’s cooling fans will run

  • The idle speed is going to increase dramatically

  • Fuel consumption will increase slightly

  • The engine “note” changes

  • Automatic start/stop is deactivated

  • Panel lights may indicate oil quality/viscosity issues, soot loading indicators light, and other warning lights will illuminate

If your panel indicates problems with the DPF regeneration process, usually when a restricted performance mode begins, you have a PDF blocked as much as 85%. This is when professional help is required, and a forced regeneration must be done.

What did I do to prevent normal regeneration?

A long list of issues that can prevent normal regeneration:

  • You drive only short journeys where the engine does not hit high enough operating temperatures

  • You used the wrong oil (i.e. you did not use a low Sulphur and low ash oil)

  • There is a failure or problem in the EGR system, fuel or inlet that has prevented combustion from occurring properly

  • An unrelated issue has cued a diagnostic code or warning light, and the ECU or engine management system blocks regeneration

  • Too little fuel prevents the regeneration (active variety) from occurring. It needs ¼ of a tank to function

  • You exceeded the service interval

  • You failed to refill the DPF additives tank (if the vehicle uses one)

  • You ignored warning lights

  • Biodiesel was used and cause rapid saturation of the DPF

What does a DPF replacement cost in Australia?

The costs of DPF replacement vary because there are options for cleaning and re-installation and swapping a blocked filter for a full replacement. The standard prices for filters usually begin at that $1000 mark, though some go much higher.

There is also the matter of an hourly rate paid to the mechanic repairing. The national average in Australia is between $30 to $100+ per hour, and this varies based on the mechanic’s level of expertise and skill. Few offer DPF as a flat task and instead charge based on such factors as:

  • Make and model

  • Whether you used an OEM or aftermarket DPF

  • Range of services in addition to the DPF replacement 

  • Whether the filter can be cleaned and reinstalled

  • There are issues with the engine timing, ignition, fuel mixture, and so on

  • A full vehicle history check should be done, which adds to the cost

  • Problems with one of the four different temperature and pressure sensors (which may need replacement)

What does a DPF replacement involve?

This, too, will vary widely from vehicle to vehicle. The mechanic has to check the vehicle’s history and look for any reasons that a DPF is failing. They will check temperature and pressure sensors, replacing any that have filed.

They will have to remove the DPF and send it for cleaning or swap it for a functional unit. They must then reset the engine management system or ECU and then do a forced regeneration to allow the vehicle’s systems to recognise a new DPF. The appropriate oil must be used, and a new fitment kit may be needed for a brand-new DPF. 

How to write a DPF replacement Task Listing

Hopefully, you now understand the importance of ensuring your DPF functions correctly and that you pay attention to any warning signs of trouble. If you have been knocked into the lower performance mode and need a forced regeneration, or you think it is time to have a new DPF installed, you can find providers with an Airtasker listing.

Be sure you include the information below to get the most qualified mechanic and base your choice on pricing. Look at their level of experience in DPF replacement as well as the DPF replacement cost listed.

We suggest you include the following details:

  • The time frame required (emergency, longer amount of time available, etc.) 

  • Budget (the amount you have for the project)

  • Your location and if you anticipate any issues or challenges posed by the location

  • The make, model and age of the vehicle, along with notes on the status of the DPF and the ECU

  • The materials and parts you will provide (and ask for a quote on them if you want to compare your options)

  • If you require a warranty on labour (and materials if you don’t supply them)

The more details you offer, the easier it is for a provider to give an accurate and competitive offer. Keep in mind that most will also use your listing as a guideline for when they arrive to do the work – so accuracy and honesty are key!

Examples of Airtasker Task Listings for DPF eeplacement

Many vehicle owners hire experts for the install and purchase the replacement parts themselves. This is a good approach, but you will also want to consult with experts to ensure the correct parts have been purchased. Here are a few examples of recent Airtasker listings for DPF replacement:

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FAQs about DPF replacement

Just as it sounds, this is the illegal process of removing the DPF and taking steps to replace it with other components. However, this often means four-figure repair bills, or more and can even result in legal fines. Deleting the gear means allowing particulates and soot into the environment, which is the DPFs exist to eliminate. Deleting a DPF also prevents the vehicle from passing any emissions inspections or MOTs.

The vehicle drops into that restricted performance mode and begins to operate in a rather sluggish manner. Warning lights usually illuminate, too, and severe damages occur. For example, a blocked PDF that is ignored can also result in an owner finding that the turbo has failed and is now in need of replacement along with the DPF.

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