If you own a diesel powered truck and you’re serious about getting the most out of it, there’s going to come a time when you’ll need to know about DPF delete kits. And because it’s one of those issues that splits people right down the middle, it’s best to get your facts straight before making any decisions.
What is a DPF?
The combustion process in your diesel engine results in two by-products: gasses and solid particulates very much like soot. Nothing can be done about the gasses, but the ‘soot’ is captured by the honeycomb structure of the diesel particulate filter or DPF to prevent unnecessary emissions.
Under ideal circumstances, this soot is incinerated through either active or passive ‘regeneration,’ a process that is supposed to keep the filter clean and your engine running at full efficiency. Unfortunately, DPFs have their fair share of problems and are the center of a raging controversy.
The Downsides To DPF Removal
Although the theory behind DPFs is great, the truth is that they can cause lots of problems once you take an engine out of the lab and run it in the real world. To begin with, DPFs have a limited lifespan – generally anywhere from 50,000 to 150,000 miles, depending on the age of the vehicle. After this, they require either professional cleaning or replacement. This is not a simple process and either option will likely take a nasty bite out of your budget – possibly every few years.
Other major problems with DPFs are those associated with the regeneration process. Passive regeneration occurs under extended (i.e. highway) driving conditions, where the increase in temperature generated by a long drive automatically initiates the cycle. But because most modern privately owned cars and trucks operate in urban environments and don’t get enough open-road time, manufacturers also include active regeneration cycles in most diesel engines.
This process injects raw diesel (and sometimes other additives) into the exhaust system, raising the temperature and ensuring regeneration. But if either regeneration process is interrupted, the incineration is not completed and the improperly burned particles clog the DPF. Even in a best-case-scenario, this results in backpressure in the exhaust system, leading to reduced engine efficiency, increased fuel consumption, and lower mileage.
At its worst, a clogged DPF can result in your truck going into ‘limp mode,’ the outcome of which will probably be a visit to a repair shop and a thorough cleaning or even replacement of the DPF – possibly resulting in thousands of dollars’ worth of expenses to you.
DPF Delete Kits: The Pros
Fortunately for anyone who wants to get the best performance from an engine, the process of deleting or removing your DPF system is now available to solve the problem. In response to a growing outcry from owners who want the full performance and fuel economy that their vehicles are designed to provide, various DPF Delete Kits are now available. These bolt on kits are easily fitted to your truck and replace the DPF, resulting in better airflow, better performance, and better consumption. As an added bonus, removal of the DPF also lets you use certain Biofuels to power your vehicle that are not suitable for engines fitted with a DPF.
The actual process of removing the DPF system itself is relatively simple and can be carried out by any competent mechanic. Once you have removed the original DPF, a replacement pipe is installed to replace the gap in the exhaust system. A diesel tuner is also needed to ensure that the sensors controlling your truck’s DPF regeneration cycle are unaffected by the delete, and these are usually supplied as part of the DPF delete kit.
Once you have removed the DPF, replaced it with the kit and reset the sensors, you will notice an immediate and significant improvement in horsepower, torque, and a reduction in fuel consumption. It’s for this reason that DPF delete kits are becoming increasingly popular with truck owners who are looking for maximum performance and improved fuel efficiency.
That being the case, why aren’t DPF delete kits more widespread?
DPF Delete Kits: The Cons And The Law
While there are definite advantages to running your diesel engine without a DPF system, there are also a couple of things that you should keep in mind before going ahead and making your decision.
The first, and to many the most important consideration, is purely practical: deleting your truck or car’s DPF will void any existing warranty on the vehicle. The improved performance means that this is a pretty good proposition for older models, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind if your vehicle is still under warranty and you want to make the most of that.
The next question that the majority of owners then ask is, “Will it increase my emissions?” The short answer, of course, is yes. The DPF is specially designed to reduce diesel particulates emitted by your truck, and deleting obviously removes an integral part of your vehicle’s emission reduction system. Interestingly enough, though, nobody seems to be able to say exactly what kind of impact we are talking about. The EPA, auto companies, and big oil – all major opponents of removing your DPF system – constantly cry out about the negative effects of the procedure but seem unable (or unwilling) to roll out the facts and figures as to why exactly it is such a bad idea.
Unfortunately, this brings us to the question of legality. While deleting your DPF is permissible under certain conditions (most notably for closed-track racing and other professional applications), you should be aware that a DPF delete kit cannot legally be installed on any vehicle registered or certified for highway use. Antiquated and draconian legislation dating back almost 50 years to the CAA (Clean Air Act) of 1970 denies owners the right to modify their vehicles as they see fit, despite obvious and dramatic improvements in engine technology and fuels in the intervening time. In addition, various state and local laws could also apply to removing your DPF, so it’s worth finding out how it could affect you before you make a final decision.
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It’s Your Decision
At the end of the day, the final decision about replacing your DPF system with a DPF delete kit lies with you, the driver and owner of the vehicle. On the one hand are the oppressive laws and regulations which, although well intended, could well be out of touch with the reality of our modern world. On the other hand are the improved performance, increased savings, and peace of mind that come with a single modification.
Nobody can make the choice for you, but when the time comes to make your decision, do it with an informed mind and a clear conscience.