If you own a newer diesel vehicle , chances are you need to use Adblue – a diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) used in millions of cars, light commercial vehicles, HGVs, buses and coaches across the world. But what is it, what does it do, what is it made of, how does it work and how do you best use it to ensure your car performs efficiently and safely? Read on to learn more and have all your AdBlue® questions explained.
AdBlue® is a diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) mixture used in all heavy-duty diesel engines produced after January 1st, 2010 and most commercial vehicle and car diesel engines made after September 2015 – primarily Euro 6-compliant models. AdBlue® is NOT a fuel additive as it’s added to the exhaust gas after combustion has taken place and should NEVER be added in to the fuel tank!
AdBlue® reduces Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions. Nitrogen oxide is a harmful gas that can damage the human respiratory system, reducing lung function, increasing allergen exposure and the risk of respiratory illnesses. It promotes the formation of fine particulate pollution and ground ozone – harmful to both health and vegetation.
It’s for these reasons that governments set limits on vehicular NOx emissions and promote the use of AdBlue®. This improves air quality and reduces the danger of diesel pollution-related illness and death.
The term AdBlue® is a worldwide trademark of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) relating to DEF produced in accordance with the ISO 22241 specifications.
AdBlue® is made of a colourless mixture of high-purity urea (32.5%) and deionised water (67.5%), as set out in the ISO 22242 standard. Urea contains ammonia; the active ingredient in AdBlue® that reacts with NOx and neutralises it before it enters the atmosphere.
AdBlue® works alongside vehicle engine selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) exhaust emissions. Vehicles that use the active emissions control technology can usually be identified by the use of ‘SCR’ or ‘Blue’ in their model names.
After exhaust gas passes through the diesel particulate filter, AdBlue® DEF is sprayed and mixed into it via a dosing control system as it enters the SCR catalytic converter. Here, the ammonia within the urea reacts with NOx in the exhaust stream, neutralising it to form harmless nitrogen (N2) and water vapour (H2O), while additionally reducing total fuel consumption by 2-6%.
AdBlue and SCR systems are highly effective, reducing NOx emissions by up to 90%, hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions by 50-90%, and particulate emissions by 30-50%.
While there are different names for AdBlue®, such as Bluedef, BlueTec and so forth, all mixes should contain the same solution of 32.5% urea and 67.5% de-ionised water. The German Association of the Automotive Industry’s AdBlue® marque can be confidently relied upon to meet these requirements, while others may not.
You should not use water instead of AdBlue®. The VDA notes that vehicles should not use urea solutions not denoted by the ‘AdBlue’ trademark. While inexpensive, these can be dangerous, damage the engine, affect steering and harm the SCR catalytic converter, so it’s always best to stick with legitimate, branded AdBlue®.
If your car is a newer diesel, there is a high chance it will require AdBlue®. If you’re unsure, consult your vehicle’s handbook, or search for the filler cap located next to the fuel filler, under the bonnet or in the boot of the vehicle.
If you’re wondering how long AdBlue® lasts and how much you should use in your vehicle, the rate at which your AdBlue® depletes is around 1 litre for every 350 to 600 miles. The exact rate at which you should top up your AdBlue® depends on your vehicle’s engine size, your driving style, and the size of the vehicle’s AdBlue® tank, which varies between 5 and 20 litres in size.
For more information on your specific usage rates, consult your vehicle’s handbook or a qualified mechanic, but bear in mind that your dashboard should indicate when you need a top-up.
It’s impossible to drive without AdBlue® – your engine will not start, and you’ll see a notification noting ‘AdBlue® is empty’. A notification will also appear when your AdBlue® tank is running low.
Most diesel vehicles require an AdBlue® top-up every 3,000-4,000 miles, depending on the engine. Check your vehicle manual for a figure specific to your make and model.
AdBlue® is generally considered to reduce NOx emissions by over 90%, making it a crucial tool for improving air quality and combatting environmental issues.
If your diesel vehicle was registered after September 2015, it likely uses AdBlue®. Often, the model name will feature the words ‘SCR’ or ‘Blue’, and if the vehicle is produced by a European manufacturer, the use of AdBlue® technology is more likely.
AdBlue® can freeze at temperatures below -11°C, however it will usually thaw due to the heat of the engine in cold winter conditions, without any change in concentration or effectiveness.
If driving in exceptionally cold conditions, it can be a good idea to keep a bottle of liquid AdBlue® in your vehicle to top up the tank in case of freezing – automatic warming systems can take up to 20 minutes to thaw frozen AdBlue® tanks.
AdBlue® DEF is water soluble, biodegradable and non-hazardous, however you should rinse thoroughly in case of contact, avoid AdBlue® vapours, and clean surfaces that come into contact, as it is slightly corrosive to certain materials.
The main thing is DO NOT start your engine! Call us immediately for a full fuel tank drain… we will drain the tank dry, wait for you to fill up with fresh fuel and then add an additive to help disperse any remnants of the adblue from the bottom of the tank.
If you have started your engine chances are it won’t have run for any length of time as the adblue does not mix with the fuel at all! If this has happened call us immediately for assistance… as above we drain the fuel tank but we now need to remove the adblue from within the fuel system! We start by removing the fuel lines, filter and release any pipes that we can get at before sucking as much of the adblue out as we possibly can. Once this is completed and our technicians are confident that they have removed as much as physically possible fresh fuel will be added to the fuel tank and drawn through the fuel lines to flush them out. Now we will attempt to get the vehicle running… once running we monitor the engine to ensure there is no lasting damage and will advise to have the fuel filter changed at the earliest convenience.
But mainly if this has happened to you then please give us a call on 07554851721 to discuss your options and repair route.