The curse of the diesel particulate filter
More people than ever now choose diesel over petrol for their car purchases. It might be a little more at the pumps but it’s been drummed into us that owning a diesel car WILL save you money. Now we’ve already pointed out that you need to do your homework when choosing a diesel car, especially if you don’t do the mileage (Are you really saving money by choosing a Diesel? ) but there is another thorn in the side of diesel ownership that I’ve been stung by with personally.
When I finally decided that a Nissan Qashqai+2 was the car for me, I wanted to ensure that it was frugal enough to meet the needs of an avid hypermiler and also had enough punch to ensure it didn’t feel underpowered. I ended up choosing the 2.0dci lump that gave me the best of both worlds but I didn’t factor in that this model was fitted with the dreaded diesel particulate filter (DPF).
Now after only a couple of months of ownership, I’m greeted by the DPF warning light together with the engine warning light . Most people would reach for the AA card and have the car rushed to a dealership ready to take a pasting on the debit card, but I opted to ring the dealership as I knew the two lights were related and no damage would be done in the short time it’s been on.
After a call to the service man at my local Nissan dealership, he informed me that the DPF collects the soot and nasty things that are produced from the archaic diesel engine in order for it to meet EU emission levels. He went on to advise that the car should be run at motorway speeds in 5th for 15-20 minutes to “burn off” the collected particles in the DPF. This should be done on a regular basis or whenever the DPF light comes on, not great news for some that only very rarely breaks 50MPH.
If this fuel-wasting run was not successful the car would enter limp home mode after around 2 weeks and I would HAVE to come back to the dealership for a £275 regeneration of the DPF in their workshop, destroying any savings I thought I would make by opting for the diesel-powered Qashqai.
After only a brief Google regarding DPF issues, it seems that this issue has affected many fellow Qashqai owners and drivers from other marques too. The issue has also been highlighted by the BBC’s program, sadly also featuring the Nissan Qashqai. For those in the UK, click here to watch the episode. In a statement from Nissan to the watchdog regarding this issue they said, “The 1.5dCi, 1.6dCi, and 2.0dCi engines fitted to QASHQAI include a diesel particulate filter (DPF) to reduce emissions and help protect the environment. The functionality of a DPF may not be suitable for all customers. If your journeys are predominantly urban or low speed, a model without a DPF may be a more suitable alternative.”
My Googling has also revealed a whole array of companies offering DPF removal services with power and efficiency gains headlining together with the promise of no more expensive DPF regeneration costs. I put this past Nissan’s serviceman who sternly advised me to consider my options “very carefully” as the car would not pass its MOT without the DPF in place.
In conclusion, you REALLY need to do your homework before you choose a diesel car fitted with a diesel particulate filter.
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