January 23

2010 VW Jetta TDI DPF Replacement

VW

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Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience, 25 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers, and we're talking TDI today. How you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: So the infamous Volkswagen diesels, a 2010 VW Jetta TDI, what was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: So this vehicle visited our shop a couple of times, had some codes related to generally the area of the diesel particulate filter, EGR flow. But over a course of quite a few months, we replaced a couple of temperature sensors that weren't reading properly. Issue was fixed for a while, then came back and you know, a lot of the issues we'd done we'd sorted out, but there's still a further issue.  And there was one with an EGR flow code and then another for DPF related code. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but those were basically the general area of the issue. 

Mark: So other than looking at the scan tool, what other testing and diagnosis can you do on this? 

Bernie: So there's some visual inspections we do. Basically there's tests we can do on the scan tool to see how things are operating. And we determined that the DPF was pretty much plugged or plugged to the point where not that it wouldn't run, but plugged to the point where it was causing engine performance and the check engine light was on. 

Also what happens is as the DPF doesn't work properly, it'll put too much soot into a piece that's called an EGR filter, which is a pipe that goes between the outlet of the DPF into the EGR valve. So it's actually supplying less soot, like a low soot amount of exhaust back into the EGR system. So over time that'll start plugging up and cause EGR flow issues. So we determined that it needed the DPF plus the EGR filter, which is basically a piece of pipe. But you know, it's got a filter inside the pipe.

Mark: So what is a DPF? 

Bernie: It's a diesel particulate filter and how it works is it'll trap the particles that come out of diesel. If you look at the exhaust from a diesel engine that doesn't have one, old diesels don't have them and some people choose to remove the particulate filter on newer diesels that have them, but you'll see a lot of black sooty particles.

Very bad. They're very tiny particles. Very bad to breathe. They're cancer causing and cause lung cancer over time. Plus it stinks. But besides that that diesel particulate filter will trap these particles and after a certain amount of time, the system is set to redo what's called a regen.

So it'll actually inject extra fuel into the engine. It's basically a catalytic converter of sorts. It'll cause a lot of extra heat and that converts the soot to ash. And then it just kind of comes out the exhaust stream in a harmless fashion. 

Mark: Or less harmful fashion.

Bernie: Less harmful fashion. Yeah. 

Mark: So what parts required replacement on this vehicle? 

Bernie: So we had to replace the whole DPF. It's an assembly. Now there are options. You can have them cleaned. Usually isn't great for most passenger cars. Usually if you want a good repair, better just to replace the whole unit more expensive, but you know, it's guaranteed to work for a long time. Whereas cleaning it will often sort of do a 50% job and then you'll be back doing the cleaning again. You know, at a sooner time. 

If you have a large truck, I know cleaning is actually much more popular on large, like transport kind of trucks and buses and things like that. We've had it done. It does work, but definitely better to replace the DPF. I'll just show a picture of it right now. 

So there's the unit. There's the old one. Not much to show here. I mean, the actual DPF, I'm just moving my mouse pointer around is this unit here that I'm circling. There's a temperature sensor here that was not removable from the unit. Sometimes they seize up over time.

2010 VW Jetta TDI DPF Replacement

And so that had to be replaced. This little outlet here. This is where the EGR filter goes. This is a pipe that connects to the EGR system. So again, as I mentioned, this is the downstream side of the DPF. You can see soot in here, which is a bad indication that the DPF is not working properly.

And once that soot occurs, that starts getting into the EGR system and causing blockages. So anyways, this is the inlet, which comes from the turbocharger, the engine side. This is the outlet that where it comes out cleaner. 

Mark: That's the right hand side where the silver kind of cover is on the pipe that's running to the back of the vehicle.

Bernie: That's running to the back of the vehicle, yeah. 2010, I don't know if this thing has an SCR cat, which basically injects the urea. I don't believe this one does. No newer ones do. And actually I think this is the thing that Volkswagen tried to avoid doing and did their little scammy business.

You know, that once you put the urea injection, that really cleans things up quite a lot, but it adds a whole level of complexity and of course, cost. And any car manufacturer sometimes we look at cars and my techs and I go, why did they put this thing on here? And I go, well, there must be a reason because car manufacturers wouldn't put one thing on that wasn't required for some reason. Because it bumps the cost, everything bumps the cost. 

Mark: This is going to be buried underneath in the vehicle pretty extensively, I would suspect. So is this a labour intensive job? 

Bernie: It is. Yeah. You have to lower the subframe out of the vehicle or remove it in some cases. And this one, we were able to lower it. There's a lot of stuff that needs to be removed to access it. So, yeah, these are usually buried. It's very rare that we have one go, Oh, wow, that was easy. Occasionally, I can't think of which car, but occasionally there's some that, and easy is a, at least a couple of hours of work, but at least a couple of hours. But some of them are, you know, just did one on a BMW diesel is just insane amount of work. These are not bad, but it's still a lot of work. Pretty labour intensive. 

Mark: Were any other items outside of what we're seeing here that needed replacement? 

Bernie: Pretty much it, I didn't take a picture of the EGR filter assembly. It's basically a coily pipe with a sort of a baffle piece in it that attaches here. As I mentioned, this temperature sensor was replaced. We'd done some of the other sensors previously, so they unbolted and came out pretty easily. 

Mark: So a DPF, is there a particulate filter that's on gasoline engines?

Bernie: No. Because particulate is not an issue with a gasoline combustion. When it combusts, there's no particles, unless you've got a super rich fuel mixture, but your car won't run well on that. I can't remember the last time I saw a gasoline engine with black smoke coming out the back, but the thing about diesels is they often have black smoke, you know, because the injection system isn't right, but it's sort of an inherent part particles are just part of diesel combustion. Whereas and it's probably because diesel is a lower grade fuel. It's more of an oil. You're actually burning oil as opposed to gasoline. Yeah. Gasoline is highly refined. It vaporizes and diesel is a much different animal.

Mark: How often do DPFs need to be replaced, especially on like a TDI? 

Bernie: Well, this is a 2010. It's now we're doing this podcast and well, beginning of 2014, 2024, sorry, 2014. Well, I can't believe time flies. Yeah. So, I mean, that's 14 years old. You know, like 10 years is probably kind of a lifespan for them. I mean, you might be lucky to get 20 depending on conditions. 

Mark: And I guess, does it also depend quite a bit on whether it's all city driving compared to you actually take it out on the highway and let it burn some of this stuff off by driving faster? 

Bernie: Absolutely. So you know, I guess the question is how does one keep a DPF lasting a long time? Because it is a very expensive repair. City driving, short city trips all the time is a very bad thing for a DPF. For the diesel system in general, if you're doing short trips and that's all you do, get rid of your diesel and get a gas powered car because you're just asking for expensive repairs.

But if you do, you know, little short trips and combined with like some good long hauls and getting the exhaust system good and hot, that's good for it, for sure. You know, like changing oil frequently is an important thing. Those are a couple of things, but, you know, I'm just making sure the engine gets good and hot and highway driving is really much better for it.  Hauling loads. If you have a truck, you know, putting some heavy loads, it's good for the DPF. It gets everything very hot. Burns everything out.

Mark: So this generation of TDI is getting on quite a bit, 14 years old. And of course, a lot of them have been recycled. So there are quite a few that are still available. I had one and I got a whole bunch of money from Volkswagen because they got punished with tens of billions of dollars in fines for not putting that urea system in place. How are these older TDIs for reliability? 

Bernie: Yeah, they're good. I mean, the engine itself is really good. You know, I think it's a good car overall. And you know, if you drive it under the right conditions, I mean, the fuel economy is excellent. You know, it's a decent car to own, they're good. They're quiet. They work well. So, you know, but as they get older, you will have more expensive repairs, like DPFs and things that do go wrong.

You know, fortunately, Volkswagen, they extended the warranty and on these for quite a long time, but a lot of these vehicles are getting beyond it now. This one certainly was. So, you know, there are expensive repairs that could happen, but they're generally pretty decent.

Mark: So if you're looking at buying a used one, you should check on the VW site to see what the warranty is. If it's still within that, I think it was 10 years.

Bernie: Yeah. 10 years. Yeah. Yeah, I would do that for sure. And I can't remember what the last year they made these was at 2016, 2015, 16. Yeah. So if you're buying a 2016, you still got warranty. You're still covered.

Mark: If you're looking for service for your TDI Jetta gas or diesel in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at pawlikautomotive.com to book your appointment. Or you can call them at (604) 327-7112. Call 'em, find out what's going on. You have to book ahead. They're always busy. Thanks so much for watching and listening. Thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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