Over the last few years there have been many costs that have trapped us in expenses that we never expected or planned for. Sensors, diesel particulate filter (DFP) cleaning, frequent regenerations, failed DFPs and short lived injectors, injector cups, turbo chargers, EGR coolers all have cost impacts that are not within our control.
The one that is often overlooked at is the DEF fluid filter. There are a lot of fleets that are now realizing there is a screen plus a DEF filter in the system that has to be service from time to time. The DEF filter will get restricted from time to time and send codes and in some cases become an operational issue. As a result, there are OEM recommended filter change intervals. When that happens, of course the answer becomes service and change the "captive” DEF filter.
The size of the filter varies from OEM to OEM, but in general it is about the size of a $4.00 standard oil filter like you'd find in automobiles. In changing that filter at the OEM’s suggested interval, I was shock to find that the captive filter is approximately 20 times the cost of an automotive oil filter. I was shocked at the cost since 68 % of what passes though it is water and the balance Urea. So I decided to rebel, and find an alternative process.
I took 6 old filters and ran them thru a dishwasher to clean them. To my surprise it worked.Although I have never been a fan of washing filters, I now suggest washing the DEF filters in the shop. If the filter was reasonably priced, then washing may have not been option, but the cost drove me to a different path and a solution that reduced my cost. We had no replacement options, no alternative competition, and no aftermarket replacement. This maybe one option to help control your maintenance costs. I would suggest testing it yourself.