Preventing Contamination of DEF in Fleet Vehicles

Fleet managers sometimes experience problems with vehicles that they blame on the addition of diesel exhaust fluid, known as DEF. As of 2010, the federal government has required all vehicles running on diesel fuel to use this additive to drastically decrease emissions that pollute the air. Experts say that the problems encountered are not due to DEF but to contaminants. Those contaminants generally get into the system because workers are not careful about how they add the fluid.

About DEF

DEF from a source like PEAKHD is added to a special container on the vehicle and not to the fuel tank. The fluid is converted to a gas that enters the exhaust system and neutralizes the emissions.

Commercial Fuel Stations

At commercial fuel stations, truck drivers can add the fluid if the container is low. DEF is typically available at fuel retailers that sell diesel fuel. The size of the nozzle should prevent customers from accidentally pouring DEF into the diesel tank instead of the separate container. However, if someone does try to jam that nozzle into the fuel tank pipe and some DEF gets inside, problems can develop.

Contamination on Company Property

With trucks that are always fueled at the company and not on the road, contamination also can occur. Research into problems that fleet managers report concerning diesel exhaust fluid indicates that about 80 percent of contamination incidents happen on company property.

For instance, workers may use a funnel that isn’t clean or isn’t solely used for a substance such as BlueDEF. They might have used the same funnel to add motor oil or coolant. Sometimes, workers put DEF into a bottle that used to hold a different type of fluid. Mixing up even small amounts of these substances can lead to issues with equipment performance.

DEF also can become contaminated with dirt or water if it is not always protected from contact with the outside environment. The liquid may begin to crystallize if it has been exposed to air.

Some workers may want to clean the nozzle, funnel or other devices that look dirty, but they make understandable mistakes due to lack of training. One of the more common problems is using tap water instead of demineralized water. That can inadvertently add dissolved minerals like calcium and magnesium to the DEF. Some workers may even use some form of detergent to clean these devices, which ends up being another impurity in the DEF.


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