Welcome to everything you need to know about the benefits of heavy-duty EGR and DPF maintenance. Here we will discuss what these systems do, how they work, and how proper and regular maintenance can benefit your vehicle.
Just before we get started, to make things a bit easier to digest, we’re going to split this article into two pieces, first talking about the EGR system, then the DPF system.
Does that make sense? Good — Let's go!
Standing for exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), these are emission-controlling technologies that are attached to a heavy-duty engine to significantly reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. EGR systems fall under a larger umbrella of emission reduction devices known as aftercare treatment and are legal requirements in many countries, including the US.
EGR systems work by first collecting a portion of the engine’s exhaust gases. Gas flow is governed by the EGR valve, which is in turn controlled by the engine control module (ECM). When the conditions are appropriate, the EGR valve opens, allowing the recirculation of exhaust gases into the intake manifold, which ensures that the air entering the engine cylinders is evenly distributed.
Now that this recirculated gas is back in the engine, it can mix with the fresh air, which reduces the oxygen levels and lowers the temperature needed in the combustion chamber. This lower oxygen concentration reduces the levels of harmful NOx created during the combustion process, providing cleaner exhaust emissions and a smoother operating engine.
EGR systems can undergo multiple types of maintenance, including inspection for signs of damage such as leaks or carbon build-up, thorough cleaning, and ECM and sensor inspection (learn more about ECMs here). Benefits of regular EGR maintenance include:
The primary purpose and benefit of an EGR system is to reduce the level of harmful NOx emissions during combustion. NOx is a major contributor to air pollution, which harms the environment and people alike. Going green is just one of the great benefits of a properly functioning EGR system.
This is required by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is subject to stringent regulations. Proper maintenance can keep you on the right side of these regulations and avoid any expensive fines, which in some cases can be up to $45,268 per non-compliant vehicle.
Reintroducing exhaust gases into the combustion chamber lowers the levels of oxygen, resulting in a much leaner air-fuel mixture. This allows for more combustion at lower temperature levels, improving your fuel economy and lowering your operating costs.
Because the engine can operate at a lower temperature, this lowers the amount of carbon buildup in the system and, more importantly, the amount of heat buildup in the engine. Preventing overheating can help you avoid damage to your engine, such as blown gasket heads.
With the lower temperature, there is less stress on the engine and its components. This extends the engine’s lifespan and prevents premature breakdowns from occurring.
The diesel particulate filter (DPF) system is another type of after-treatment that is required on heavy-duty trucks by law in the US. Its purpose is to trap diesel particulate matter (PM) such as soot or ash generated by combustion and work with the diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC) to convert harmful gases such as carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons into less damaging substances.
Over time, a DPF system captures and traps PM emitted from a truck’s engine as a by-product of the combustion process, preventing its release into the environment. The DPF itself consists of a honeycomb-like structure with porous walls (usually cordite or silicon carbide) that capture the PM while allowing the exhaust gases to pass through.
Like EGR systems, with prolonged use, your DPF system can benefit from multiple forms of maintenance, such as inspections and thorough cleaning.
A crucial part of DPF maintenance, however, is regeneration. Passive regeneration occurs naturally when the truck is in use, burning off any accrued PM. Sometimes this may not be enough, and active regeneration (sometimes known as forced regeneration) will have to take place. This is where a technician manually overrides the ECM to raise the exhaust temperature to a point where the excess PM is burned away.
Keeping on top of DPF maintenance, including forced regeneration, can help in numerous ways, including:
Working in conjunction with the DOC, DPF systems reduce the impact of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons as well as capture and retain PM. With the EPA recently introducing tighter restrictions on emissions, this is a great way to maintain regulatory compliance.
Reduced power output, lower fuel efficiency, and weaker acceleration are all symptoms of DPF clogging, which can be avoided with routine maintenance.
Preventive DPF maintenance puts less stress on the engine, reducing pressure on components, which not only minimizes the risk of breakdown but also increases fuel economy, meaning more money in your pocket.
Routine maintenance prevents your DPF system components from prematurely wearing, which can lead to complete DPF failure, costing you more in repairs down the road.
A well-maintained DPF system should be able to burn off PM with its active regeneration process. If you require forced regeneration to fully clear away this PM, then you will need to pay a professional to carry this out for you.
We hope that’s answered everything you ever wanted to know about EGR and DPF maintenance, and you now understand why keeping on top of these systems maintenance is essential to the health of your vehicle, the environment, and your wallet.
But there is one more question left to answer, where can you get this done for your heavy-duty truck? Well, the answer couldn’t be easier. Our team of mechanics at JE-CO Truck & Trailer are specialists in EGR and DPF maintenance and to book yourself in all you have to do is CTA ACTION!
We're moving! We will be at our new location:
5590 E 55th Ave, Commerce City, CO 80022 starting December 4th, 2023.