How Drivers Can Make or Break Truck Aftertreatment System Maintenance

How long a time-constrained truck driver can wait to address a DPF regen warning often depends on how old the engine is.

February 2018, - Department

by Jim Park, Equipment Editor - Also by this author

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A truck driver may not know when to address a DPF regen warning, which can costs fleets days of downtime if it requires advanced service. Photo: Jim Park
A truck driver may not know when to address a DPF regen warning, which can costs fleets days of downtime if it requires advanced service. Photo: Jim Park

Parked forced regenerations of diesel particulate filters continue to frustrate and confuse drivers. Drivers under time constraints often tempt fate and continue their journeys, ignoring regen requests. A system derate or shutdown can sideline a truck for a couple of days if the DPF requires advanced service.

Newer post-2010 trucks are a little more forgiving in their warnings. 

“On older engines, before the advent of the SCR [selective catalytic reduction] system, drivers generally had three to four hours between the time the light came on and when you absolutely had to perform a regen,” says Scott Barraclough, Mack technology product manager. “Newer trucks offer at least eight hours from the time of the first alert and when it must be regen’d. That allows drivers to get through a shift or at least find a convenient time and place to park.”

The bad news is that there are still lots of older systems running around, and drivers need to be aware of different alerts and warnings on trucks of different makes, models and ages.

“Drivers need to be aware of the system on the truck and they must follow the prompts and instructions provided by the truck,” Barraclough says.

Trucks should be equipped with instructions outlining the parked regen procedures to avoid confusion.

While drivers can’t influence the vehicle’s duty cycle, they should be mindful of the impact of behaviors such as idling.

“Light loads and stop-and-go driving certainly play a factor in DPF regeneration performance, as additional soot is created during erratic duty cycles and/or stop-and-go traffic,” says Kurt Swihart, Kenworth marketing director. “This, along with lack of exhaust heat from light engine loads and extended idling periods, will cause a need for more frequent regens.”

As well, drivers should report any make-up coolant or oil they use. Since the visible smoke from burnt oil or coolant can no longer be seen, adding fluids indicates that oil and coolant are going somewhere.

“Oil and/or coolant consumption all play a factor with DPF contamination and will result in the engine controller commanding more frequent regenerations,” Swihart says.


  1. 1. lGary Pipenger [ March 01, 2018 @ 06:50AM ]

    Amalgamated, Inc's ( unique and proprietary TDR-FL Premium Summer Diesel Fuel Additive & its TDR-WDA Premium Winterized Diesel Fuel Additive can easily resolve issues with DPF Filter Cleaning (double or triple or more) the time between regens. 260-489-2549

  2. 2. Richard [ March 06, 2018 @ 09:54AM ]

    Right Company drivers are not allowed to drive enough miles tpo make a decent living so they should take all their free time to worry about and take care of someone elses truck???
    We are paid by the MILE and nothing else should be done unless a nice chunk of money comes our way...You can work for free anywhere~


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