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Old 08-08-2018, 03:59 PM   #1
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THOR #12520
DPF and REGEN

Week old (to us) 33.3 2015 Palazzo with 16K. Purchased from a dealer, have ext warr, 1/2 tank of diesel through it since purchase and while driving the regen light came on. Was not expecting this so we stopped and engine light came on, read manual, no real help. Called Freight liner. They told us to get back on the road and keep it over 45MPH for the auto regen so thats what we did. 10 miles later (at 60mph) the check engine light went off, 5 +/- more miles and the regen light went off. GREAT.. NOT SO MUCH, next 5-10 miles the regen light came on then went off. GREAT RIGHT.. NOT SO MUCH.. Regen light came on, check engine light came on, then the SHUT OFF MOTOR! warning came on on the dash. We stopped as quickly as safely possible .5 miles or so. Called Freightliner and was walked through doing a forced parked regen. It would not allow it to happen.

Long story short, we unhooked the jeep and drove 3 hours home, the coach is being towed to Freightliner in SA TX, the dealership we purchased it through told us they would cover everything. The code
< SPN 3251 FMI 0 SA 0 > on the dash says (google searched the code) DPF is beyond its limits. No option to clear codes or reset to check if they re-apply, wont REGEN. Freightliner was amazing to speak with, super helpful even once they determined we were not original owner and the coach is out of factory warranty.
Motor never lost power, never got hot. Nothing other than dummy lights.

Has this happened to anyone else? Has anyone had to replace their DPF?

It looks like the DPF (the actual filter) is about 4K for the part. I have heard of old DEF causing issues but have not been able to determine if this is one of those issues. The dealer provided the coach to us at delivery with full everything, doubt the DEF was old.
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Old 08-08-2018, 04:10 PM   #2
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THOR #4735
2014 Palazzo with 85,000 miles over almost 4 years and never any issue with DEF or DPF, but only a replacement of one of the emission NoX sensors back in late '16.

I've seen the 'engine light'(outline of engine only, no words) come on, which is really a misnomer since it is actually an 'emissions' alert - nothing to do with the engine, though it's unnerving regardless.
This happened in the aforementioned emissions sensor issue, but I drove on for over 1,000 miles before the replacement, per Cummins instructions. Also, no cost to replace since Cummins emmissions warranty is for 5 years.

The only other instance was after allowing the DEF tank to fall below 1/4, which can also assert the same alert. After adding DEF, the alert went off on it's on after several stops/starts of the engine.
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Old 08-08-2018, 04:40 PM   #3
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THOR #11130
I spoke with a rep for Blue DEF a few years ago when I bought my 2011 GMC 2500HD (first year for light truck requirement). He said the stuff is sensitive to heat and has a short shelf life...do not stock pile. I've had two incidents over last 8 years with "DEF-Poor Quality" lights and threaten to restrict MPH or shut down. Make sure you buy it at high volume truck stops or other truck oriented businesses. I wouldn't use the bulk at the fuel pumps...only buy the sealed jugs as they are dated and you know they haven't been watered down (yes, they do this). It's a matter of opinion and experiences, but I don't keep DEF tank full on my new F550 Chateau. I will add to it a bit to keep it fresh and only fill it if I know we're doing a 10 day+ road trip. If it sits for extended period, I'll drain the tank and refill it with fresh. Bad DEF will eventually cause clogging of your particulate filter resulting in expensive filter replacement. Motorhomes are the biggest victim of this as they don't get driven much and the stuff goes bad. FYI...it is made with pig pee!!


In Turner's case above, the math shows he is driving over 20,000 miles per year which will keep the DEF reasonably fresh. If you're not blowing and going like this...keep your eyes on it.
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Old 08-08-2018, 04:48 PM   #4
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Hmmmm....
Wonder what the use history of the coach is....
ie: PO just pooped around town and short trips to/from a camp site, never driving long enough to get everything up to full temps so the system could keep the particle filter clean, or .....?
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Old 08-08-2018, 04:59 PM   #5
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This system doesn't continually run the Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) through as a constant cleaning process. Once the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) starts to clog from exhaust soot, it send a signal for the emission system to "REGEN" which starts the cleaning process automatically, using the DEF. You must maintain a steady or higher speed of 45MPH over a given period of time for the process to complete. In most cases, you'll never know this is going on. Some vehicles state it on the cluster so as to advise you to keep running. If you do short trips or let it sit for long periods without running it either doesn't get the "chance to dance" or the DEF fluid goes bad, not cleaning the DPF...resulting in above condition.
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Old 08-08-2018, 05:07 PM   #6
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I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn last night. I sold commercial trucks, bodies and equipment for years and slept through one too many classes on these systems when they came out. The idea was, long haul trucks run so much and for so long, there would not be a challenge to the DEF REGEN process. In 2011, when EPA mandated all light trucks and other diesel vehicles must comply...the issues started. Most car/light truck dealers and RV "Sales Goobers" have no clue about this process and never cover it with buyers...thus...back to the OP's scenario.
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Old 08-08-2018, 05:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Gritz Carlton View Post
This system doesn't continually run the Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) through as a constant cleaning process. Once the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) starts to clog from exhaust soot, it send a signal for the emission system to "REGEN" which starts the cleaning process automatically, using the DEF. You must maintain a steady or higher speed of 45MPH over a given period of time for the process to complete. In most cases, you'll never know this is going on. Some vehicles state it on the cluster so as to advise you to keep running. If you do short trips or let it sit for long periods without running it either doesn't get the "chance to dance" or the DEF fluid goes bad, not cleaning the DPF...resulting in above condition.

What is the self life of DEF I use bluedef

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Old 08-08-2018, 05:23 PM   #8
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Not sure how far improvements have come but I was told in 2012 to adhere to a 4 month life cycle. Manufacturers base the DEF tank size on a given vehicle to the anticipated use/mileage so as to keep it flowing and fresh under normal use. Many RV's are sitting around on dealer's lots with this stuff going south. Best to fill it asap and manage it going forward. Filling will always refresh what's there. You won't know its bad until you get a "bad fluid" light or the filter gets plugged...both of which will put you down within a few hundred miles or less. Another amazing fact...it's mostly water.
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Old 08-08-2018, 05:27 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by The Gritz Carlton View Post
Not sure how far improvements have come but I was told in 2012 to adhere to a 4 month life cycle. Manufacturers base the DEF tank size on a given vehicle to the anticipated use/mileage so as to keep it flowing and fresh under normal use. Many RV's are sitting around on dealer's lots with this stuff going south. Best to fill it asap and manage it going forward. Filling will always refresh what's there. You won't know its bad until you get a "bad fluid" light or the filter gets plugged...both of which will put you down within a few hundred miles or less. Another amazing fact...it's mostly water.

Wow it stays in my motor home longer than that.
What about you?

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Old 08-08-2018, 05:28 PM   #10
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this is also why I don't typically 'store' jugs of DEF, as they are relatively easy to find, and any Walmart has the 2 1/2 jugs I prefer anyway.

If you look at a used DEF container's flexible hose, after it has sat for a while, it is dried out white 'cakey' stuff...which I imagine could also happen in a tank if it sits for too long...months, I mean.

and, yes, periodically you can hear your engine 'revving up' as the regen process takes place, whether while driving, or while idling...
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Old 08-08-2018, 05:33 PM   #11
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I would never use bulk DEF...to risky. You're right..if you know what to look or "feel for" you'll know when the REGEN has kicked in. You can feel it going down the highway. As far as availability it mostly everywhere but, if you're heading into remote territory (out west, through Canada)...just buy a jug and take it with you. The tank sensors also know when you are nowhere near the stuff!!
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Old 08-08-2018, 05:47 PM   #12
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One other note...then I'm outta here to cut grass...if you're not sure your coach has "done the dance" recently, you can manually activate the Regeneration process on your next trip when you start out. Different engines and different chassis' have specific ways to do this so look it up in your chassis Owner's Manual or call a dealer and ask the service department.
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Old 08-08-2018, 07:34 PM   #13
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Shelf life depends on temperature. Ford Bulletin-
https://www.fcsdchemicalsandlubrican...%20Quality.pdf

There have been several reports of tampering, containers have been opened, used and refilled with water then returned for refund. Look for tampering, be sure seal is intact. White powder around cap may indicate it been opened.
Mercedes Sprinter has no regen indication. Occasionally I get a "hot medal" smell while driving. Most of my driving is at highway speed.
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Old 08-08-2018, 08:15 PM   #14
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This is what the Blue DEF guy told me...

"in theory the shelf life can be over a year but in reality I wouldn't use it if its past 4 months from the date stamped on the product."

He said this was due to poor handling and improper storage by retailers and distributors.
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Old 08-09-2018, 01:48 AM   #15
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You always know when it's in regen because your fuel mileage goes to crap as the truck dumps raw fuel in to burn the crap off the DPF. Causes the exhaust temp to rise so high it causes the hot metal smell you are describing.
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Old 08-09-2018, 07:16 AM   #16
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Direct sunlight, temps in excess of 100 Deg are the most destructive to DEF to perhaps 6mo. Kind of ironic since under your hood could reach.. 130>. We see ambient temps often over 110 in the desert. Never had any trouble.
I've seen ignorant posts in forums stating you could add water in a pinch...to avoid being stranded..NOT!
Helpful information DEF / DPF facts:
Attached Files
File Type: pdf DEF_Cummins.pdf (267.8 KB, 42 views)
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Old 08-09-2018, 01:05 PM   #17
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As stated earlier..they also determine tank size based on 'anticipated' mileage and use for specific vehicles so it doesn't go bad before you would normally use it. If they did this for MH chassis, the tank would probably be one quart.
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Old 08-17-2018, 02:48 AM   #18
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The normal life of a dpf filter for cummins is 200,000 miles or 150,000 hours per cummins
as far as the regen goes there is a differential pressure sensor that looks at inlet pressure verus outlet pressure and if they stray beyond there set limits then the {acm) after treatment control module thinks the dpf is plugged and want to do a regen.
A big misktake people make is there are 3 parts to a aftertreatment system
1 doc diesel oxidiation catylast
2. dpf diesel particulate filter
3. scr

The first 2 work together to trap soot in the doc and the dpf catches the ash from a regen,the scr system uses the def fluid to reduce nox levels by using 2 sensor called the inlet and outlet nox sensors normal engine inet nox is around 145-200 ppm and outlet has to be 80% less if not then check engine light,derated engine and finally shutdown.

but excessive regen issues could be for several reason from a stuck inrange differential sensor,exhaust leak,or dpf plugged with ash.

the very worst thing you can do on these engine is too much idle time it will plug them faster than anything else.
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Old 08-17-2018, 03:19 AM   #19
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The faster they plug the sooner the auto regeneration kicks in. It's totally automated. Just keep fresh DEF in the system and drive on.
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Old 08-17-2018, 04:08 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by The Gritz Carlton View Post
The faster they plug the sooner the auto regeneration kicks in. It's totally automated. Just keep fresh DEF in the system and drive on.
This is not totally correct. The DEF filter is the last filter of the 3. The REGEN as it was explained to me by Freightliner actually effects the DPF filter prior to the filter the DEF is used for. Once the DPF filter clogs with soot a REGEN will not burn it out. Yes it is automated but with cummings you can force a "parked REGEN" if you model allows.

I understood the filters to be 1st the NOx or DOC Filter, 2nd the DPF then lastly the SCR catalyst that utilizes DEF. as seen in the last diagram on the attached web site;

6.7L Cummins Emissions System Explained


This is how I understood this to all work from the conversations I had with the tech and service mgr as well as what I have read.

All great advice though, fresh DEF, drive it, dont idle more than needed, use high idle when you can, run good fuel.
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