DEF (diesel exhaust fluid) is an important component of the emission control system on modern diesel engines. It helps to reduce harmful emissions, such as nitrogen oxides, by breaking them down into harmless nitrogen and water. If the DEF system becomes contaminated, it can cause problems with the emission control system and may result in failed regenerations, excessive or not enough DEF consumption, 5mph derate, DEF crystallization build up in the SCR system etc. In this article, we will discuss the most common causes of DEF contamination in a Freightliner Cascadia with a Detroit DD15 engine and how to diagnose and fix the issue.
I. Common Causes of DEF Contamination
There are several common causes of DEF contamination in a Freightliner Cascadia with a Detroit DD15 engine. Here are a few:
- Mixing DEF with other fluids: DEF should never be mixed with other fluids, as it can cause contamination.
- Using incorrect concentration, low-quality or expired DEF: Using DEF that has an incorrect ratio of water to urea, is past its expiration date or of poor quality can lead to contamination.
- Dirty DEF pumps at a fill station: If you fill up your DEF from a station, watch out for dirty nozzles that can transfer debris to the inside of your DEF tank.
- Contaminated DEF storage containers: If the DEF is stored in containers that are not clean or are contaminated with other fluids, it can lead to contamination.
- DEF pump issues: If the DEF pump is not functioning properly, it can lead to contamination of the DEF.
- DEF filter issues: If the DEF filter is old, dirty, or plugged up, it can cause contamination of the DEF.
II. Diagnosing and Fixing DEF Contamination
To diagnose and fix DEF contamination in a Freightliner Cascadia with a Detroit DD15 engine, you can follow these steps:
- Check the DEF level using the gauge or dipstick. If it is low, add DEF fluid as needed to bring it to the proper level.
- Check the DEF fluid for any signs of contamination, such as a change in color or consistency. If the DEF is contaminated, it will need to be replaced with a new, high-quality batch.
- Inspect the DEF storage containers to ensure that they are clean and free from contamination.
- Check the DEF pump for any signs of malfunction, debris or damage, such as leaks or faulty seals. If the DEF pump is found to be faulty, it will need to be repaired or replaced.
- Check the DEF concentration mixture. DEF should be mixed with deionized water to a concentration of 32.5% +/- 1%. If the DEF concentration is incorrect, it can cause contamination. To troubleshoot this issue, you can have the DEF tested with a test strip or use a diagnostic scan tool to check the DEF concentration. TIP: verify the scan tool parameters with a test strip, don’t rely on what the computer tells you.
- If the DEF concentration is incorrect, you will need to drain and discard the contaminated DEF properly.
- Depending on what the contamination is, you may also need to rinse your DEF tank with distilled water.
- Afterward, replace the DEF filter.
- Fill the DEF tank with new high-quality DEF (bottled DEF preferably, not from a bulk pump at a fill station)
- Again depending on the extent of the contamination, you may need to purge the DEF system to clear the lines and injector of the bad DEF.
- Check the DEF filter for any signs of contamination. If the DEF filter is old, dirty, or plugged up, it can cause contamination of the DEF. Clean or replace the DEF filter as needed to resolve the issue.
- Have the DEF system inspected by a professional to determine the cause of the contamination and have any faulty components repaired or replaced as needed.
DEF contamination can cause serious issues with the emission control system in a Freightliner Cascadia with a Detroit DD15 engine. By following the steps outlined above, you can diagnose and fix DEF contamination issues and keep your vehicle running smoothly. Note that if your truck is in derate, you will likely need a diagnostic scan tool to perform resets, clear fault codes, perform forced regenerations, and SCR efficiency tests in order to clear the CEL inducement lamps (i.e., Check engine light, DEF light, regen light, etc.).