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The Blue Stuff: The Ins And Outs Of Diesel Exhaust Fluid

For example, you might need to change the oil and fuel filters more frequently. Because a diesel engine burns fuel at a higher temperature, you might have to use an exterior heating system in the wintertime. But the most obvious difference is that you need to add diesel exhaust fluid to a separate tank on the diesel vehicle to remove harmful emissions and enable it to run properly. Purchasing the best digital exhaust fluid for your situation depends on a few criteria.

At BestReviews, we can help you better understand the differences among diesel exhaust fluids, so you can find the best one for your vehicle. Our shopping guide gives you plenty of helpful information about diesel exhaust fluids, so you can make sure your diesel vehicle runs properly. Unless you have experience with diesel vehicles, you might not know much about diesel exhaust fluid DEF. This bright blue liquid is a mixture of roughly two-thirds deionized water and one-third urea.

The color helps you distinguish it from gasoline or diesel fuel. You add DEF to your vehicle as needed. It goes into a separate tank than the diesel fuel and runs through the selective catalytic reduction SCR system.

Diesel vehicles emit dangerous nitrogen oxide NOx. DEF breaks down the NOx emissions into nitrogen and oxygen, elements commonly found in air. If you have a or newer model vehicle that runs on diesel fuel, it almost certainly needs DEF. This tank is near but separate from the diesel fuel tank. DEF and diesel fuel should never mix. Because diesel exhaust fluid is an expensive add-on, and because it can be a hassle to keep on hand, it might be tempting to run the diesel vehicle without filling the DEF tank.

Under these rules, dashboard messages and warning lights warn the driver when the DEF tank is running low on fluid. An empty DEF tank limits the vehicle's performance to speeds of up to five miles per hour until the tank is refilled.

It will result in a significant repair expense for you. Be very careful when adding either diesel fuel or DEF to your truck. Also, the DEF tank often has a bright blue cap that will help you avoid placing diesel fuel in this tank. Even a tiny amount of diesel fuel could significantly damage the system that uses DEF. It can be frustrating to pick the right DEF for your vehicle.

All diesel exhaust fluid must have a urea concentration of These impurities can enter the DEF if the manufacturer uses poor-quality deionized water, for example. Urea: An approved brand of DEF must use pharmaceutical-grade urea rather than agricultural-grade urea, which might have impurities like biuret in higher levels than higher-quality urea.

You can switch brands of DEF at any time. The amount of diesel fuel you use will determine the amount of DEF you use. Instead, the DEF is poured into a separate tank on your diesel fuel vehicle. The use of diesel exhaust fluid in a selective catalytic reduction system has only occurred in the last several years.What happens if you run the treatment tank dry?

Diesel veterans long ago learned how to handle this concern. The following primer is for diesel-engine newbies and gasoline-engine devotees curious about life on the other side. Those who turn a DEF ear face harsh penalties. Inside the exhaust pipe, the DEF vaporizes and decomposes into ammonia and carbon dioxide. This produces three benign tailpipe gases: nitrogen, water vapor, and carbon dioxide. The ingredients remain in solution, so no shaking or mixing is necessary before use.

diesel exhaust fluid ford f250

Our Range Rover is equipped with a 3. We soon discovered that the earliest warning is fleeting and easy to miss. The warning disappeared before I could photograph it. The next alert appeared miles later. Only miles later, the urgency intensified.

No additional messages lit up our cluster while we were driving. Fill diesel exhaust fluid tank. We kept the engine running to drive the final eight miles to the comfort of our garage before shutting it down. We promptly began resuscitation procedures. Adding 2. The engine would not start until we tipped in another 2.

Then this diesel started without hesitation, idled nicely, and ran perfectly throughout its next journey—a mile jaunt to Chicago. While the frequency of warnings does vary, all modern diesels give their owners plenty of notice that their DEF must be replenished well before the dry-tank doomsday occurs. Considering how effective this strategy is for cleansing the exhaust, the half-cent per mile we spent in this test for DEF is quite reasonable. Buyer's Guide. Type keyword s to search.

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NHTSA — Fuel/Propulsion System Problems

Michael Simari. Advertisement - Continue Reading Below.So how do you find out what problems are occurring? Any duplicates or errors? It's not us. Don't waste your time wasting ours! If you are interested in advertising a for-profit service, contact us. Find something helpful? Spread the word. Share on Facebook Retweet this page Email this page. Add Complaint. Was driving down the road and the truck started leaking diesel everywhere. We took the truck to the dealership where they said that when the filter clogs the truck doesn't turn off it sprays fuel out of the top of the filter housing.

This is dangerous as my wife was driving the truck and sitting in the truck for several minutes with it running not realizing it was leaking. It could have caught on fire. Code P20ba, reductant heater in def tank. It is a known problem but Ford did not include my year model in the warranty recall.

I see all over the internet with people having the same problem that I'm having. Engine runs rough during exhaust regen. Typically when driving betweenthe diesel exhaust fluid warning appears. Almost a minute later the truck begins to make loud jack hammer noise and loses power.

Feels very unsafe as you lose power for about 10 seconds. Search CarComplaints. Ford Focus ignition Ford Explorer transmission engine complaint electrical issue heater complaint transmission complaint paint defect F recall. The fuel tank sending unit is not guarded. Poor design, I have a fleet of Ford trucks. I have a F currently in the shop, Ford has a factory shield covering the exposed fuel lines.Ford F owners have reported problems related to engine exhaust system under the engine and engine cooling category.

The most recently reported issues are listed below. Thermal insulation panel under the truck bed body above the exhaust pipe became loose and fell onto the exhaust pipe and caught fire and melted to the pipe. Noticed the hanging insulation panel when truck was parked. See all problems of the Ford F The truck has 87, miles and I was driving 45 mph, engine light came on the truck jurked like back fire, no brakes no acceleration.

Went to the nearest dealer they said the exhaust valve stuck and through the rod through the piston and cylinder wall. Ford says sorry need new engine 10, Tl the contact owns a Ford F While driving at an unknown speed, the vehicle decelerated to 50 mph and would not exceed 50 mph. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who diagnosed that the heater for the diesel exhaust fluid was faulty and needed to be replaced.

The vehicle was not repaired. Baytown Ford I, baytown, TX was notified of the failure. The manufacturer was not notified.

What Happens When the Diesel Exhaust Fluid Tank Runs Dry? We Put It to the Test

The failure mileage was 82, While driving 35 mph, white smoke came out of the exhaust without warning. The contact stated that the vehicle exhibited the same symptoms as listed in NHTSA campaign number: 07v power train. The vehicle was taken to colley Ford auto centre dr, glendora, CAwhere it was diagnosed, but the failure could not be duplicated. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure.

The failure mileage was approximately 70, Driving truck it told me to pull over and shut engine off. I was stranded on the side of the road and it would not restart, had to get a tow home.But in this day and age, the task list has shortened quite a bit. In the case of diesels, the mandate from on high the government, to be exact is to make these applications burn their fuel more efficiently and leave a less lasting trace upon the atmosphere.

For better or worse, greenhouse gases and global warming have caught on with the Feds and made them less accepting of anything that smacks of wasted potential. With diesels in the crosshairs, automakers have adapted and given us a new acronym to remember: DEF, or Diesel Exhaust Fluid. By now, manufacturers have all made the change in their diesel platforms, from Nissan to Ram. This diagram shows how DEF is used in the exhaust system to eliminate harmful emissions.

Photo: TAC Energy. SCR refers to a method of converting nitrogen oxides also referred to as NOx, referring to all of the molecular variations as a whole into two separate molecules — diatomic nitrogen N2 and water H2O — using a catalyst.

Nitrogen oxides are an offshoot of exhaust gases in diesel, and are considered by the scientific community to primary air pollutants. Motor vehicles have long been the target of legislation here in the States, starting in the s with the mandated adoption of catalytic converters and Corporate Average Fuel Economy CAFE standards.

6.7L Power Stroke Diesel

Automakers, always keen on toeing the line when it comes to legislation, took on SCR as early as possible, starting in in order to meet the federal emissions regulations in Breaking down DEF, we find it is made up of two parts: And just as it works in our bodies, so it works in diesel motors.

Ammonia then reduces the nitrogen oxide to diatomic nitrogen N2water, and carbon dioxide which will be absorbed by plant life to make air. So here is where we set foot into the area of controversy when it comes to DEF.

For all of its supposed good effects on the environment, it has led to some serious and considerable criticism in the diesel world for a few reasons. First of all, it creates an extra layer of maintenance. By and large, people hate chores and maintenance, and since DEF is an expendable resource in a diesel vehicle, it will add to the cost of ownership and become a time investment without immediate or discernible payoff, making it psychologically unrewarding.

Moreover, in some applications, the filler neck for urea is very close to the filler neck for diesel fuel. The more ignorant or lazy diesel driver may not be able to tell which is which when parked at the pump as some fuel stations offer DEF at the pumpand as Gary Maschner of Strictly Diesel tells us, this is a common issue.

On top of all of this, DEF is startlingly delicate. Its properties are such that it must be stored between 40 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and will last about a year before it turns to pot. DEF is especially susceptible to contamination, as one teaspoon of table salt will ruin 5, gallons of the stuff.

As an example, a Ford F gets about 15 mpg average, and has a gallon fuel tank and a 5-gallon DEF tank. Assuming he drives 1, miles a month, this means the average F owner refills his DEF tank about once every two months; more often than an oil change, but thankfully cheaper.

It might seem like DEF causes more problems than it fixes, from corrosion to chore-adding to cost considerations. But DEF has some plus sides, too. And with regard to fuel mileage, increases of up to five percent have been observed. This is a good thing because it reduces fuel consumption to clean out the DPF, meaning better fuel efficiency overall.As with any new engine, potential truck buyers initially questioned the platform's reliability despite reports of extensive durability testing.

Fortunately, Ford seems to have hit a home run with the 6. Over6. The 6. The unit was replaced by a single Garrett GT37 variable geometry turbocharger VGT for the model year, subsequently increasing horsepower and torque in combination with additional upgrades. The SST returned to the Power Stroke for the completely revised model year Super Duty; torque reached an all time high at lb-ft.

Both horsepower and torque were once again increased for the model year, peaking at hp and lb-ft, respectively. Ford suggests that software adjustments, cylinder head improvements, and increased turbocharger boost are responsible for the increases. Also unique is the engine's exhaust and intake manifold designs. As opposed to a tradition V engine, the intake and exhaust flows are reversed - the intake manifolds are located on the outer deck of the cylinder head and the exhaust manifolds exit directly into the engine valley where the turbocharger is mounted.

The unique exhaust flow design is said to increase thermal efficiency of the turbocharger. For Ford introduced the 3rd Generation 6. While the revised engine features a number of significant changes, the most noteworthy is likely its new piston design.

Forthe Power Stroke utilizes a steel piston with a relatively short overall height. Shrinking the height of the piston compensates for the increased weight of steel, a much heavier material than the previous aluminum design.

The 3rd generation 6. Dual cooling systems; high temperature circuit for engine, low temperature circuit for transmission cooler, CAC, etc.

diesel exhaust fluid ford f250

Viscosity recommendations vary with ambient temperature; refer to owners manual. The first Super Duty's sold featured the early horsepower engine rating. Because of the flash update, very few engines likely exist with the original programming. A unique feature of the 6.

This post-cooling system reduces sludge and soot buildup in the EGR valve, minimizing maintenance. The DOC is a ceramic catalytic converter designed to oxidize hydrocarbons in the exhaust stream. DEF fluid level must be maintained to ensure proper operation of the system and the truck an empty DEF tank will result in reduced performance and speed. The engines are assembled in Chihuahua, Mexico. Owners of the hp model were able to receive a free dealer installed upgrade to achieve the new hp power rating.

Oil is jetted into the bottom or the piston and travels through a cavity within the piston, cooling the top of the piston before exiting. This helps lower combustion temperatures and increase engine longevity. Viscosity recommendations vary with ambient temperature; refer to owners manual Engine Weight: Approx. Additional 6.Try it free for 14 days. View Full Image.

Diesel Power Magazine how to. Emissions regulations have been on the minds of diesel pickup owners, prospective owners, and professional over-the-road drivers for some time now. It began with the implementation of exhaust gas recirculation EGR systemsthen progressed to the diesel particulate filter DPFand now the buzz is around selective catalytic reduction SCR. Selective catalytic reduction systems use a consumable diesel exhaust fluid DEF in conjunction with a catalyst to reduce nitrous oxide NOx emissions.

Why SCR? Selective catalytic reduction technology uses ammonia to break down NOx emissions produced during diesel combustion into nitrogen and water.

SCR has become the technology of choice for a majority of truck and engine manufacturers to meet the stringent emissions standards set by the EPA for heavy-duty trucks. The biggest benefit of SCR for the vehicle owner is in the fuel savings the technology provides.

Because SCR deals with NOx outside the engine, manufacturers are once again able to tune their engines to run more efficiently and produce more power. The increase in engine efficiency also leads to a reduction in particulate matter, resulting in less frequent regeneration of the DPF and adding to the increased fuel economy. SCR works by first routing exhaust gases through an oxidation catalyst, which removes hydrocarbons and converts a small amount of NOx to NO2. The next step requires an injection of an aqueous urea solution, DEF, into the exhaust stream at a precise dosing rate.

Exhaust fluid is converted into ammonia, which reacts with the remaining NOx in the SCR catalyst to produce harmless nitrogen and water. The Consumable Fluid Diesel exhaust fluid is a mixture of synthetic, high-purity, automotive-grade urea and deionized water. This liquid is clear, nontoxic, nonflammable, non-explosive, and generally nonhazardous.

Additionally, DEF is classified as a minimum risk for transportation. The fluid is mixed at a ratio of Heavier than diesel, exhaust fluid weighs 9. It is recommended that exhaust fluid be stored between 40 and 80 degrees, and it has an effective shelf life of one year when stored at 80 degrees.

diesel exhaust fluid ford f250

Prolonged storage above 86 degrees will cause hydrolysis to occur. The most important quality of diesel exhaust fluid is its purity. For example, one teaspoon of salt would contaminate 5, gallons of DEF. SCR systems are very sensitive to potential impurities, so it is essential that exhaust fluid remains uncontaminated, and that consumers only purchase fluids that adhere to the ISO quality standard and never try to mix their own.

Do It Yourself One of the biggest complaints about the use of SCR is the fact that eventually you are going to run out of exhaust fluid. As of now, BlueDEF brand exhaust fluid is available at most auto parts stores and truck stops across the country, making it incredibly easy to locate, and new brands and retail outlets are popping up constantly. People can potentially save hundreds of dollars by simply replenishing the fluid themselves.