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How to Maintain Your Used Truck's Aftertreatment System

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Semi trucks are complex machines to say the least. One of the most intricate systems within a semi truck is its aftertreatment system — or diesel exhaust aftertreatment system. This system plays a crucial role, but is also one of the most difficult to care for, because knowing exactly when service is needed can be tricky. Below, you’ll find more exhaust aftertreatment information and maintenance tips from International Used Truck Centers!

What is an Aftertreatment System?

The main purpose of the aftertreatment system is to reduce the amount of harmful emissions and pollutants released into the air. Essentially, it’s a system of parts and components that clean the diesel exhaust that’s emitted by your truck before it’s released into the air via the tailpipe. Aftertreatment systems have changed with the standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In recent years, new equipment and systems have been introduced to help trucks meet the EPA’s stringent emissions requirements.

Nowadays, diesel engines include a selective catalytic reduction (SCR), a diesel particulate filter (DPF), a diesel oxidation catalyst, and diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) to thoroughly clean the diesel engine exhaust. Many used Freightliner trucks that house Detroit engines feature aftertreatment systems with a “1-Box” configuration. This setup integrates the above-mentioned components into a single system. This puts less pressure on the engine and reduces the overall weight of the truck for improved fuel economy.

Aftertreatment System Maintenance

  • Complete Routine DPF Cleanings: There are different stages of cleaning a DPF. Stage 1 is a pneumatic cleaning and involves removing ash and soot. Stage 2 is a thermal and pneumatic cleaning. The filter is baked to oxidize the soot and make the ash more pliable and easy to remove. This cleaning restores the vast majority of filters to their original state, so they’re ready for reinstallation. Stage 3 cleaning involves a thermal and pneumatic cleaning, as well as a wet wash, and is generally reserved for OEMs and large fleets to rescue highly contaminated filters. The depth of the cleaning process depends on the state of the filter, so it’s a good idea to keep up with regular cleanings.
  • Stay Current with Service: It’s important to determine how often your DPF filter will need to be cleaned out. This depends largely on your truck’s engine. For example, if you drive a truck equipped with a Cummins engine, there’s a good chance recommended DPF cleanings will be based on fuel economy. In general, it’s a smart idea to have the DPF filter cleaned at least every 200,000 miles to avoid future complications and unnecessary costs.
  • Choose the Correct Oil: Additives in the engine lubricants are the main culprit behind ash in the DPF. Many of these additives were developed before DPFs, and are simply not as compatible with the filters as they could be. However, you can switch to newer API oil classifications, such as FA-4 or CK-4. This will result in less ash buildup and allow you to go a bit longer between cleanings, because there’s less to clean and remove from the DPF.

Learn More About Diesel Engine Care from Us!

Are you looking for more exhaust aftertreatment system information? Contact us for answers to your questions! The knowledgeable team at International Used Truck Centers can answer any questions you many about DPFs, reducing idling engine fuel consumption, and more. Additionally, you’re also welcome to visit one of our nationwide locations for in-person assistance.

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International Used Truck Centers 41.776180, -88.200918.