Letter: If you drive a diesel car, you should read this

If you drive a diesel car and don’t regularly drive it at sustained high speeds, you may want to read this advice from OnTheWight reader, Paul Carter. He offers what appears to be god advice that could save you £1,700.

diesel sign

We always welcome a Letter to the Editor to share with our readers – unsurprisingly they don’t always reflect the views of this publication. If you have something you’d like to share, get in touch and of course, your considered comments are welcome below. This from Paul Carter, Niton. Ed

All current diesel cars and vans are required to be fitted with some method of eliminating diesel particulate (what we used to think of as “soot”).

Some manufacturers (for example Ford) use a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) to achieve this. It is an item on the MOT test – that it should be fitted and working.

Regular, sustained high speeds needed
The problem is that DPFs are inclined to accumulate particulates, and to clear it the vehicle needs regular, sustained high speed.

Many Island cars simply don’t get that. If it does not receive that treatment, it is inclined to fail.

I have noticed how many Isle of Wight vehicles are diesels, and I wonder how many owners know about this (or have been advised about it by the dealer).

If the DPF fails, it can cost as much as £1,700 to replace.

Problem cars
Cars with a reputation for DPF problems:

  • Nissan Qashqai and X-Trail 2006 – current models
  • Audi A3, A4 & A6 – 2006 to 2012
  • Skoda Octavia & other models 2004 – 2013
  • VW – 2006 – 20012
  • BMW 3 & 5 Series 2004 – 2012

It would be wise if you own a diesel to check this out.

Image: twicepix under CC BY 2.0

Tuesday, 15th August, 2017 4:30pm


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Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. Fred Karno

    15.Aug.2017 5:49pm

    This is a well known problem that has now been around for quite a few years now. I think without exception, every diesel passenger car and light commercial has now been fitted with a DPF.

    Many manufacturers have had problems, it was a technology not properly developed that was foisted on the public. Interestingly, a specific offence has been created of removing the DPF. Many owners, tearing their hair out with cars that wouldn’t run properly, had the DPF internals removed and the vehicle computer remapped so it didn’t realise the DPF had been removed.

    However, DPF’s have resulted in diesel emissions and soot and smoke being much reduced. The Isle of Wight presents a specific problem though, because of slow speeds and short journeys and much to my personal annoyance, after running diesels for many years, I have gone back to petrol. I think it’s probably fair to say that manufacturers have put much effort into trying to make these things work better. The technology of the DPF, (basically squirting fuel into the exhaust system to start a fire in the DPF to burn off the particulates, remains to my way of thinking, quite insane!) Many bigger diesels, ie lorries, use an additive called ‘Adblue’ to deal with emissions – this is made out of pigs urine. Half of this stuff you just couldn’t make up!!

  2. Agreed
    I don’t know if you read Honest John but people on there discuss whether a particular car has a DPF or not. Which I have assumed to mean that there are vehicles fitted with some kind of alternative.
    I just wonder how many motorists on the Island appreciate that the typical mix of driving here is not giving the DPF the opportunity to regenerate, or whatever it’s called.
    Maybe it will take care of itself in that it’s been predicted that with the latest news the market for diesels will drop through the floor. Of course, that might mean some people hang on to their diesels for longer.

  3. electrickery

    16.Aug.2017 9:12am

    Thanks to Paul for raising this. A quick whizz up the M3 from time to time should clear the DPF, but my car reports an average speed (that is, not counting all the stationary periods!) is less than 20mph on the Island.

    As to the future of diesels, out knee-jerking government is good at poisoning markets – it did it with solar panels (quote one D Cameron: “the greenest government ever”) and now it’s done it for diesel cars, amazingly failing to mention lorries. But then Tory gov has always been in hock to the motor trade, unlike city mayors who can impose sensible mitigations.

  4. fenndermentalist

    17.Aug.2017 2:21pm

    I had this issue with our Golf GTD it was constantly filling up the DPF, dealer wanted £300 to replace parts, or £200 + £150 for a full clean and reprogramed to blank-off EGR. Constant issues every 4-5 months DPF error then limp home mode, nightmare of disruption and expense. I contacted VW and went trawling the VW website to finally be told buy a TSI (petrol) gold if you don’t do regular motorway trip. Sold the car was p***ed off.

  5. honestiow

    1.Sep.2017 12:58am

    This is so easy to fix, you need to get the exhaust very hot frequently. You can do this by either driving at 70 mph for 10 mins (which is impossible for the Island) or by accelerating hard in a high gear everyday. So if you are going up the dual carriageway, quickly get in to top gear and then hold your foot down on the floor until you reach 70. Likewise, any good incline, select the highest gear you can and floor it. My wife’s Mitsubishi frequently goes into limp mode if I try this, indicating a blocked DPF, a couple of really hard accelerations sorts this out for a week.

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