DPF regeneration: your questions answered

DPF regeneration Hilux

Although Toyota’s passenger car range is predominantly focused around petrol-electric hybrid powertrains, the Land Cruiser, Hilux and Proace models are fitted with diesel engines. A diesel particulate filter (DPF) is a feature of these models, and you may have heard about the need for regular DPF regeneration. What does this component do and how do you take care of it?

What does a diesel particulate filter (DPF) do?

The DPF is fitted within the exhaust system and is designed to catch soot particles and nitrous oxide (NOx) from the combustion process that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. The DPF is highly effective and traps around 80% of these harmful particulates.

DPF regeneration

Why do modern diesel engines need a DPF?

European legislation places strict exhaust emissions targets on all vehicle manufacturers. From September 2009, the Euro 5 legislative standard came into effect, part of which required all diesel cars registered from that point on to be equipped with a diesel particulate filter, or DPF.

These filters are used throughout the industry in all diesel-powered passenger vehicles, and their efficiency is vital now that stringent Euro 6d emissions standards are in force.

Do I need to replace a DPF during normal servicing?

Diesel particulate filters do have a capacity limit and can become full. But unlike traditional air, oil or pollen filters that need to be exchanged manually at regular intervals, the DPF has a much longer service life and is designed to regenerate to restore its performance.

The car’s electronic control unit (ECU) is programmed to do this automatically, neutralising the soot by burning it off at high temperature within the exhaust system while the vehicle is running. All modern cars with diesel engines follow this procedure.

DPF regeneration Proace

How does DPF regeneration occur?

The regeneration occurs automatically, usually without the driver being aware that it is taking place. In the majority of cases, the process is carried out when the engine and exhaust system has reached normal operating temperature and the vehicle is travelling at over 40mph.

However, if your driving is limited to urban areas, the low speeds and frequent stops mean the conditions for normal regeneration do not exist. In these instances, the ECU monitors the accumulation of soot and instructs an alternative regeneration programme to begin well before the filter becomes saturated.

This programme injects small quantities of fuel into the engine after combustion, which increases the temperature within the exhaust system and creates an environment where it is possible to safely burn off the soot.

This method is very successful within the small percentage of vehicles where normal regeneration is not possible. However, due to the nature of city traffic, the regeneration process can be interrupted when the vehicle completes its short journey and is turned off. If this occurs, the ECU is programmed to recommence the process when the engine is restarted and back up to temperature again.

DPF regeneration Land Cruiser

How can I help prevent DPF blockages in my Toyota?

Follow these four simple actions:

1. Regularly drive your Toyota on highways at speeds of between 40-55mph for around 20-30 minutes.

2. Avoid spending unnecessary amounts of time with the engine idling.

3, Try to limit the frequency of short journeys where the engine is running for less than ten minutes.

4. Do not ignore dashboard alerts related to the DPF.

Will I be warned if all DPF regeneration processes have been unsuccessful?

Very occasionally, use of the vehicle might be such that it will have been impossible for the ECU to complete the administration of any regeneration procedure. At this point, the DPF will have become overloaded and stopped functioning, so your Toyota will illuminate a warning light in the dashboard. It will then be necessary for the soot to be neutralised and the filter regenerated manually at a main dealer.

It is extremely unwise to ignore this visual warning as the DPF can become irreparably damaged. What’s more, it is illegal to remove the filter entirely.

Learn more: What is the exhaust gas recirculation valve and what does it do?


  1. Why don’t you state that there is another fluid that needs topping up or refilling ie dpf fluid or is this another way of taking money when warning ⚠️ lights show up . Telling people they need new adblue tank etc . Had issues with Toyota main dealer .supposedly went in for timing belt recall and they don’t change pulleys,tensioners or even offer at charge water pump. When they didn’t even change the belt . Waiting for a reply from complaint to Toyota GB 😡.
    Stayed away from Ford has had issues with them the only good thing with Toyota is the 5yrs warranty. Got a proace or psa group van .

  2. I purchased my 2012 Toyota RAV4 in June 2019 and for the last 4 years it has been warranted, serviced, mot’d, etc at my local Toyota Mains dealership. My Toyota Relax warranty finished on June 8th (last week).
    Last Friday, June 9th i had to call the Toyota AA breakdown service out to my car because of the engine management light having come on.
    I waited for over 4 hours for the patrol to come out but i was informed, after some check were made that the DPF filter seemed to be clogged up so we had to make arrangements for the car to be taken to my local Toyota dealership. Bearing in mind that by now it was 6 pm so the dealership was closed and i was advised to make arrangements for it to be taken in on Monday June 12th (2 days ago). This dealership is in Llandudno Junction, North Wales. I am entitled to a 48 hour car hire also with my AA cover and was informed to contact the Enterprise Car Hire company who would sort this out for me. They are also in Llandudno Junction but did not have a car for me until at least this Thursday (tomorrow) which surprises me. Everything is subject to availability by the looks of it which i do not think is fair. A hired car is needed immediately if you find yourself with no transport. In my case i need transport every minute of the day because my wife has a serious breathing problem for the last 5 years and i never know when i need to take her into hospital.
    Back to the clogged DPF. Would this problem not have come up on the MOT when the emmisions test was made. Im only asking and not blaming, but for this to happen 150 miles after an MOT, with no warning on my dashboard that something needed looking at, until the car started playing up on Friday and the engine management light coming on. I must point out that no short journeys were made during that 150 miles of travel between the MOT and the breakdown, and with my Toyota Relax warranty coming to an end a day before it broke down, i find all of this a bit much to take in. Im obviously not a happy Toyota owner at the moment but i will have to wait and see what the Toyota Mains dealer can do for me, and how much any repair might cost.
    I have done everything i possibly could, by the book, to look after my Toyota RAV4 for the last 4 years.

      1. Thank you for your comments Although i have had my car back from the mains dealer and the dpf filter has had a forced regenerstion but now, due to the fact that my wife’s codition is dependant on a reliable vehicle being available at all times of the day i do no trust it now as things are and especially with myself having done all by the book to look after the csr since purchasing it back in June 2019. A quote for a new dpf filter is frightening I really do not know what to do with the siuation i find myself in. I was a Department of Transport ADI for 30 years and always had brand new Ford Escorts and Focus with 150000 miles on their clock and they never failed me. This RAV4 (DA62ABZ) has only 79000 on the clock with full Toyota Service history. I am worried. I am 73 years old and now unsure what my trust in Toyota is anymore.
        I must point out that i do not have a problem at all about any of the Toyota staff at my local dealership. They are so helpfull.

  3. I have a 2018 Toyota avensis, 1.6 diesel engine. BMW engine. Having problems with a warning light coming on, (DPF Full, read owners manual). But when the car is scanned by the AA diagnostic scanner, no fault codes are showing, no engine management light is on. Car drives as normal. Also the scanner said the DPF only had 7grms of soot in dpf. Car is used in the taxi trade. But gets frequent long runs, serviced regularly, is run on shell v power fuel. Any one had similar problems? Or any ideas?

  4. Would just like to add, that the previous owner said the DPF was replaced, by Toyota last year, 2022. At approx 80,000 miles. The cars mileage as just turned to 100,000 miles. So surly it can’t be full again!

  5. I have a 2017 Proace Verso Minibus. Issues for a few months. August 2023 a local garage supplied and filled the DPF additive. They then told me that the additive tank would need replaced so they fitted a new pump and tank. They are now saying they cannot get the tank to “connect” to the car which is showing empty, but when checking the data list it shows as 100% full. They have tried numerous times to repair to no avail. I was then advised to go to Toyota which I did; but they have been unable to explain what the problem is. This has so far cost me more than £ 2,000.
    And a further £ 150 at Toyota to read the codes!
    So now the car is showing numerous codes, and warning lights, a new one illuminates most days. Currently around six warning lights illuminated. Anyone got any idea how to resolve this issue when Toyota seen unable to ?

  6. Hi I have a 161 Toyota Dyna pickup truck and don’t do a lot of driving & the lights come on in the dash to regenerate is there anyway around this problem I let it run for over an hour & it goes out I had the filter cleaned & it happens every couple of weeks any suggestions mcnamarastephen60@gmail.com

    1. Hi Stephen, thanks for your comment.

      There is often a certain speed required for the DPF regeneration process to be completed, so simply leaving it to run will not suffice in a complete regen. But your local Toyota Centre is best placed to advise further on this.


      Toyota UK

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