There have been many changes introduced in order to improve the air quality. In accordance with the applied Euro 6 and Euro 5 standards, vehicles equipped with a diesel engine must apply modern solutions – one of them is the necessity of using the AdBlue fluid. What should you know about it?
What is the AdBlue fluid?
AdBlue is a fluid used in cars equipped with diesel engines. To be more precise, it’s a solution of urea and demineralised water. Its purpose is to neutralise pollution which is emitted by diesel engines. It’s worth adding, that the substance is not harmful not only to the environment, but also to humans.
The AdBlue fluid is a substance which is not poured into the fuel. It is kept in a separate tank. The fluid, under high pressure, reaches the SCR catalyst. The high temperature in the exhaust system causes the release of ammoniac from the urea solution, which, in combination with nitrogen oxide, releases the water vapour and harmless nitrogen. Thanks to this solution, the environment doesn’t get polluted with emission.
AdBlue is a colourless and non-toxic fluid which consists of 32.5% of urea and 67.5% of demineralised water. Contrary to the common belief and the characteristic name – the fluid doesn’t become blue at any stage of its usage.
AdBlue – for which cars?
The AdBlue fluid is used only in car equipped with the diesel engines and with the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system.
The SCR system is installed in all trucks, buses and some passenger cars manufactured since 2011 and meeting the Euro 5 emission standard. The SCR system is compulsorily installed in cars with the diesel engines, manufactured since 2015 and meeting the Euro 6 emission standard.
Among the most popular car brands using AdBlue there are Volkswagen, Audi, Škoda, Seat, Peugeot, Citroën, Renault, Jaguar, BMW, and Mercedes.
Since when is AdBlue in use?
AdBlue is used in the SCR systems in the automotive industry as a response to the introduction of new emission standards concerning the diesel engines. According to them, since 1st October 2006, the cars with a tonnage of over 3.5 tone are bound to follow the EURO 4 emission standard, and since 1st October 2009 – the Euro 5. In turn, since 1st September 2014, all new trucks and passenger vehicles with the diesel engine are required to follow the Euro 6 emission standard. This standard also applies to the new vehicles registered since 1st September 2015.
AdBlue has been introduced several years ago by Grupa Azoty in Poland, and more precisely under the name of NOXy® AdBlue®. Since the moment it has been introduced to the market, it’s the most commonly used fluid which allows reducing the amount of harmful substances. The brand took care of the integrated production process, thanks to which the solution is produced directly in the chemical plant, right in from the raw material in its liquid form. Thanks to this, the high-quality final product is acquired.
When should AdBlue be used?
The AdBlue fluid should be used in some cars with the diesel engine which meet the Euro 5 standard, and nearly all cars which meet the Euro 6 standard.
Where is the AdBlue cap located in cars?
The AdBlue fluid should be poured into a separate, AdBlue tank – the substance should not be mixed with the fuel. Depending on the model of a car, it can be located in different places, although, the cap through which the fluid is poured is usually located right next to the fuel cap. In some cars, this cap is located under the hood or in the trunk.
Where and how to refill the AdBlue tank?
The AdBlue fluid, similarly to the fuel, is refilled at the petrol stations, with the use of a dispenser. In towns and bigger cities, the dispensers with the AdBlue fluid are also available in other locations, although it’s not common yet. AdBlue can also be purchased in a can – they are available not only at the petrol stations, but also in the authorised service centres and automotive shops. When choosing a particulal AdBlue fluid, you don’t need to guided by the brand – there are many companies on the market which specialise in manufacturing this fluid. However, what is important is that you use a product which meets the ISO 22241-1 standard, which should be confirmed by a certificate placed on the product.
Owners of cars with the diesel engines which require using the AdBlue fluid, need to remember about many rules connected with refilling it, but not only that. The most important one is the necessity to exercise particular caution during refilling the solution – it must not be spilled on the bodywork of the vehicle. Not many drivers know that the AdBlue fluid has extremely corrosive impact – even a few drops on the bodywork, if not wiped immediately, can cause damage to the paint. In effect, not only will the car look unsightly, but also other elements might be damaged too.
If the AdBlue fluid is stored in the car in can or other container, it also should be done with caution. The fluid might damage the upholstery, and it also has a very unpleasant smell. Owners of car notice, that already a few minutes after refilling the tank, the smell is incredibly unpleasant. Even worse – in case of being spilled on the upholstery, it lasts for a longer time, which makes the car usage very uncomfortable.
Types of AdBlue
There’s only one type of the AdBlue fluid available on the market. It is designated with a special trade mark, and it belongs to the organisation named Verband der Automobilindustrie. What’s important – its ingredients meet the already mentioned ISO 22241 standard. Owners of cars must remember that using other fluids is forbidden. The usage of a different aqueous urea solution or an AdBlue fluid substitute might lead to a car failure, and in the case of new cars – the loss of warranty.
However, this fluid might be found under different names. The most popular AdBlue fluids are AdBlue DEF, Noxy AdBlue, AUS 32 and ARLA 32.
Price and efficiency of the AdBlue fluid
At the beginning, as a trivia, let us remind you that in the first cars in which the AdBlue fluid was used, it was refilled by the authorised service centre employees during reviews. Only later was the responsibility of refilling it placed on the owners of the cars.
People interested in purchasing new cars often resign from the models with the diesel engines, as they worry that it might generate high expenses. Indeed – the necessity of refilling the AdBlue fluid is an additional expense. What’s more – without the fluid, not only will the owner not be able to drive the car, but also the car itself won’t even start. However, there’s no need to worry. The cars are equipped with a range of facilities, including a warning light which informs about the low level of the AdBlue fluid and the necessity of the refill.
When it comes to the AdBlue consumption, which means the frequency of refilling the AdBlue fluid, the tank might of a capacity of up to several dozen of liters. Such amount allows driving for several thousand kilometers, although its consumption depends of course on the driving style and, of course, on the type of the engine. Still, it is estimated that the average consumption oscillates between 1-1.5 liters per 1000 kilometers. Owners of cars with small tanks have to refill it every more or less 5.000 kilometers, and those with the biggest ones even every 20.000 kilometers.
The AdBlue fluid is available in various variants – usually in 1.5-, 5- and 10-liters containers. The smaller bottles are designed in a special way in order to protect the owner of the car from accidental spillage of the fluid.
In terms of the cost of refilling AdBlue, it differs, and it depends on the place where it is purchased. The cheapest option is to purchase it from the distributor. It is also convenient, as it minimises the risk of spilling the substance and damaging the surface of the car. If you wish to obtain a backup container with the AdBlue fluid to store it in your car, you need to pay much more.
The purchase cost of AdBlue differs – in order to maximally minimise it, it’s worth purchasing the fluid in bigger containers, or look for places which offer attractive prices.
What to do when the fluid runs out?
The cars which require the usage of the AdBlue fluid are equipped with an on-board computer and systems warning about the low level of the solution and displaying current level of AdBlue. The warning light most often informs the driver about with well in advance – in order to avoid problems, it should not be ignored. Indeed – the owner of the car will have some time to refill the AdBlue fluid, but delaying it for too long might lead to problems.
The lack of AdBlue causes the engine to enter the emergency mode. If the car is still running, there is a good chance that it can make it to the distributor. After switching off the car, it might turn out that it’s impossible to start it on again, even after refilling the substance – then the only way is to visit an authorised service centre.
AdBlue vs. the weather conditions
AdBlue likes neither high nor low temperatures. In summer, during the period of exceptional warmth, due to the high temperature and the UV radiation, the AdBlue fluid loses its properties. It also should not be subjected to overheating or too long exposition to the sunlight. To avoid problems, the fluid should not be stored in the trunk in smaller containers. Additionally, petrol stations and other distributors of AdBlue should take care of appropriate storage of the containers with the solution – they should not be stored outdoors during summer.
The impact of high temperature on the AdBlue level
It’s very important to take care of the fluid also in winter, when the temperature outdoors drops far below 0 degrees Celsius. This fluid freezes when the temperature drops below -11 degrees Celsius. In such situation, leaving a car in bitter cold might result in freezing the fluid and disabling further driving. In order to help drivers use a car, the producers provide special heaters which quickly defrost the fluid. Still, in order to avoid unpleasant surprises, it’s good to keep the car in the garage. As it also happens that small ice crystals of urea freeze in the injection system. Then, the heater is not a useful solution, as the pump gets damaged and it has to be replaced.