Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Is It Safe to Drive With the DPF Light On?

DPF Light

Diesel particulate filters are intended to reduce soot emissions by as much as 80%. When the filter fails, the DPF (diesel particulate filter) light will come on. It indicates a partial blockage in the filter. So, what is the deal with DPFs? Read on to learn more about them.

  • You have to empty your DPF regularly in order to have optimum performance.

  • In order to empty your DPF, you have to burn off the collected soot.

  • Soot is burned off at a high temperature by driving at a speed of more than 40 miles per hour for approximately ten minutes.

  • When the soot is being burned off, you may notice that you get a hot smell from your exhaust, your idle speed is higher, and your fuel consumption is greater.

  • If the soot is not burned off, you will notice a deterioration in your oil quality. You have to make sure that your oil level does not rise above the maximum dipstick level, because if it does, you could damage your engine.

So, can you drive safely if your DPF light is on? Yes, you can. Probably. You are not likely going to be harmed. Your engine, however, is another thing. If you ignore the DPF light, and you continue to drive in your usual “gas/brake” pattern, you will probably end up seeing other warning lights come on. Then, you will have to see a mechanic for what is called “forced” regeneration. If you fail to do this, then the soot load is just going to keep on increasing.

Finally, your car will stop running properly, and at that point, yes, you will be looking at a safety issue, because you will see decreased performance levels when you are trying to do maneuvers like passing and merging on the highway. This is where “probably” comes in as far as safety is concerned. You will also likely end up incurring very costly repairs.

Never ignore your DPF warning light. You will have little time between the point where the DPF is minimally blocked, and the point where manual regeneration is the only solution. And if you fail to have the manual regeneration done, it is very possible that you will need a new engine.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.


Post a question and get free advice from our certified mechanics.


More related articles

P0052 OBD-II Trouble Code: HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1)
P0052 code definition HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1) What the P0052 code means This code is seen when the Engine Control Module (ECM) tries to control the...
P0240 OBD-II Trouble Code: Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance
P0240 code definition Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance What the P0240 code means P0240 is an OBD-II generic code triggered when the Engine Control Module (ECM) detects the intake boost...
Insurance Requirements for Car Registration in Kentucky
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet requires that all drivers in Kentucky carry liability automotive insurance, or “financial responsibility” in order to operate a vehicle legally and maintain vehicle...

Related questions

Q: Cleaning the cabin air filter with compressed air

Sure, not a bad idea--spray it with compressed air. Realize that if you've got one of those ones that's darker black, that's a charcoal. You can blow the dust out but eventually the charcoal breaks down and it doesn't filter...

Q: My 2004 Ford Explorer has the service engine light on and possible issue EGR

The two components work together to more smoothly recycle partially burned exhaust gases - rather than just dump them into the exhaust and the catalytic converter. The exhaust gas recirculation valve is the actual valve assembly which re-directs exhaust gases,...

Q: Why does my engine stall so much?

Greetings and thank you for writing in with this question! Does the Check Engine Light illuminate when the vehicle stalls? If so, a certified mechanic (like those with YourMechanic) can scan the vehicle computer for codes. This type of stalling...