DEF Filters: You Have Options

Sept. 21, 2014
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.
About the Author

Darry Stuart | President

Darry Stuart has more than 45 years of experience in the transportation industry. As President/ CEO of DWS Fleet Management Services, he has been providing “Limited Time Executive" services in transportation and fleet equipment management to a variety of companies.

An ASE-certified master technician, Stuart began his career on the shop floor before moving on to fleet management executive positions at Perdue Chicken, BFI (Browning-Ferris Industries), United Truck Leasing, the  Keen  Companies, and Cumberland Farms/Gulf Oil.

For 35 years, Stuart has been an active member of the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) of the American Trucking Assns., serving as the group’s general chairman from 2007-2008. He is the recipient of numerous industry awards, including TMC's Silver Spark Plug, which is given in recognition of an individual's outstanding contributions to the cause of excellence in heavy-duty vehicle maintenance management. He has been cited as an industry expert or authored over  250 articles on equipment and fleet management topics.

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