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Service Secrets ... If you have a newer diesel vehicle - you should know about AdBlue

Service Secrets ... If you have a newer diesel vehicle - you should know about AdBlue

If you drive a newer diesel vehicle you should make sure you are aware of any need to use AdBlue. AdBlue helps reduce particulate matter in your exhaust's emissions, and so reduces how polluting your car is.

Our Service Department are sharing their knowledge and answering all those car maintenance related questions you've ever had! This month they are tackling the subject of AdBlue ...

What does AdBlue do?

AdBlue is used to reduce the harmful emissions produced by diesel vehicles. AdBlue is injected into a vehicles exhaust where a chemical reaction takes place to convert nitrogen oxide into water and nitrogen.

In recent years it has been found that nitrogen oxide has a negative impact on health, with a particular link to respiratory problems. Diesel engines produce more nitrogen oxide than petrol engines, so manufacturers have been trying to find ways to reduce these harmful emissions. Using AdBlue is one of these ways and helps diesel vehicles meet Euro 6 emissions standards.

What is AdBlue made from?

The first fact we need to clear up is that AdBlue is not animal urine! Whoever started that rumour is a genius and should be in marketing!

Read more: What are the Benefits of Euro 6?

AdBlue is actually made from a solution of urea and water. Urea is found in urine, but in the case of AdBlue, it is produced chemically from the synthesis of ammonia and carbon dioxide. This urea is then dissolved in de-ionised water. For all those who studied chemistry out there, it is a peroxide, but in a very different form to that used in teeth whitening!

Does my car use AdBlue?

If your vehicle is a modern diesel, then more than likely, however there are exceptions. Firstly, you can check with the dealer who sold you the vehicle. You could also check to see whether you have a blue AdBlue cap next to your fuel cap as seen in the image below.

AdBlue filler tank

You may also need to check around the vehicle for an AdBlue cap as it may appear in other places such as the boot. Another place you could check is in the manufacturer handbook or finally, you may have an AdBlue warning light on your dashboard.

If you are in any doubt at all about whether your vehicle requires AdBlue, you should go to your local garage and ask a mechanic to take a look for you.

How do I top up AdBlue and how much will my car use?

AdBlue is sold in all the usual places such as Halfords and most petrol stations. It is supplied as a clear liquid, usually with a connector funnel, which is ready to be poured directly into the AdBlue tank on your vehicle. You must ensure you have correctly located the AdBlue tank and you must NEVER mix AdBlue directly in with your diesel fuel. The AdBlue tank will always be separate to the fuel tank. Most diesel vehicles which use AdBlue will have a driver information display which will let you know when AdBlue levels are getting low.

The question of how much AdBlue an engine will use is very difficult to answer. The amount of AdBlue used will depend on a variety of factors such as; the types of journeys you are making, your driving style and even environmental factors. The size of the AdBlue tank can also vary from vehicle to vehicle adding a further variable to the equation. For some drivers a top up at each service is enough, and for others they will need to top up regularly between services.

Make sure you read your car handbook and the instructions for use and storage on the AdBlue container thoroughly.

What should I do if I have accidentally put AdBlue in my diesel tank?

AdBlue is a corrosive substance and so can cause thousands of pounds worth of damage to pipework and components within a vehicle's engine if it is poured into the diesel fuel tank in error. If this has happened to you, DO NOT TURN ON THE ENGINE. Turning on the engine will cause the AdBlue to circulate increasing the range of damage which could occur. You should call a professional to drain the tank and assess the damage done.

Read more: A Complete Guide to your Diesel Particulate Filter

Similarly, pouring diesel into your AdBlue tank could also have expensive effects. Diesel in the AdBlue tank can damage the selective catalytic reduction and AdBlue Injection system meaning it may all need to be replaced. Again, DO NOT TURN ON YOUR ENGINE, seek help from a professional to limit and assess the damage done.

Will my car still work without AdBlue?

Some vehicles will not start if there is no AdBlue present, and others will only produce limited power or go into 'limp mode' until the AdBlue levels are raised. Don't forget that no AdBlue means higher emissions, so it's important not to run out.

Is AdBlue hazardous?

AdBlue is not considered a dangerous substance. It is not flammable and does not pose any risk to humans. However, if you do suffer from sensitive skin you may want to wear gloves when handling AdBlue to avoid any irritation occurring. If you drip any on the paintwork of your vehicle you should immediately rinse it away.

If you are in any doubt about whether your vehicle needs AdBlue, or how to safely top your AdBlue up, make sure you double check with a professional.

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The comments above do not necessarily reflect Rivervale's views unless clearly stated.


12 March 2018
Written by Natalie Faughy
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