Keep Your Truck Running Optimally with Quality DEF

June 17, 2019

The Rolling Rig

Keep a worry-free truck with these maintenance tips!

First, let’s answer the question, “What is DEF?” Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) is a non-toxic solution made with purified water and automotive grade aqueous urea. Because of its properties, DEF is highly susceptible to contamination. In fact, many problems related to DEF stem from improper handling, contamination, and infrequent replacements. Store, handle, and replace DEF correctly and your truck — as well as the environment — will thank you. Read on to learn more about diesel exhaust fluid, its properties, and how to preserve it from International Used Truck Centers!

How Do I Know if DEF is Bad?

When DEF becomes contaminated, your truck’s performance will suffer. How can you tell when DEF needs to be replaced? Here are a few red flags:

  • Selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system malfunctions
  • Illuminated dashboard warning light
  • Increased diesel fuel consumption
  • Decreased effectiveness of DEF
  • Damage to DEF dosing pump, diesel particulate filter, and other components
  • Potentional engine de-rating or shutdown

Perform Routine DEF Replacements

Replacing DEF is one of the easiest ways to prevent increased consumption and possible damage to a truck’s engine and systems. DEF has a shelf life of 12 months in perfect conditions. Whether you’re managing one truck or a whole fleet of trucks, routinely draining the tank/s and refilling with fresh fluid helps prevent problems down the road, especially if you’re planning to sell and want to keep a new buyer happy.

Monitor the Urea Concentration of DEF

Keeping diesel exhaust fluid pure is essential to its quality. Even contaminants around the fill cap can be a problem. Before undoing the cap to add more fluid, be sure to wipe the cap and the area around it. This reduces the likelihood of dirt and other debris falling into the tank and compromising the fluid.

How do you monitor the quality of DEF? You can use a digital refractometer to check the urea concentration. Ideally, the concentration should be between 32.5 and 37 percent urea. You’ll likely notice the above listed red flags in accompaniment with drops in concentration. Although one can be somewhat pricey, a digital refractometer can help you get the most from your truck’s DEF despite the short shelf life.

Handle & Store DEF Correctly

Mishandling DEF can render it useless. Certain metals, such as copper, carbon steel, and aluminum corrode when they come into contact with DEF. For this reason, it’s important to use manufacturer-recommended stainless steel or plastic totes for storage. Additionally, be sure to do the following:

  • Keep DEF out of direct sunlight.
  • Store at a temperature of about 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • To prevent waste and contamination, consider storing DEF in 2.5-gallon containers vs. bulk containers.
  • If you need bulk storage, create a closed loop system — or a fully sealed system that makes it easy to refill DEF storage containers without exposing the fluid to contaminants in the immediate area.
  • Never use tap water to clean the components used to dispense DEF. Instead, use distilled or deionized water and follow up with a DEF rinse.
  • Never use the same equipment for dispensing DEF to dispense another type of fluid. Use the same equipment each time and for nothing but DEF.

Get More Truck Care Tips from International Used Truck Centers!

When it comes to keeping your semi truck in excellent condition, International Used Truck Centers is here to help! Our knowledge goes well beyond proper DEF storage; we can answer any questions you may have about topics like brake maintenance, oil change intervals, and tire selection and care, and cleaning the DPF filter. Don’t hesitate to contact us with questions pertaining to your truck and how to improve its performance and reliability.

And More

International Used Truck Center 41.776180, -88.200918.