There have been various Volkswagen Amarok DPF problems reported to us by readers over the past couple of years, and we encountered this for ourselves during a long-term test of our own VW Amarok.
As reliability is such an important issue, whether a pickup is used for lifestyle or commercial purposes, we went to the owners to find out how widespread the problem is.
Surveying of over 400 pickup operators, we analysed data from 24 million miles of motoring to form the results of the Pickup Truck Reliability Survey. We found that the average Volkswagen Amarok user would face a fault after 35,000 miles, and DPF problems were high on the list.
What Is a DPF?
The DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) is a device that forms part of the exhaust system, and is designed to reduce the amount of particulate matter that is released from the tailpipe. It effectively acts as a ‘sieve’ that catches around 80% of the harmful soot that has exited the combustion chamber.
VW Amarok DPF Regeneration
After a while, the amount of particulate matter caught on the DPF starts to build. The Volkswagen Amarok removes this build-up from the DPF through a process called ‘active regeneration.’
When the Amarok’s engine control software recognises a DPF blockage greater than 10%, it injects extra fuel into the engine. When the fuel-rich exhaust gases pass through the Diesel Oxidation Catalyst, they raise the temperature high enough for the soot to burn, a process that requires temperatures of at least 600°C.
The problem is that active regeneration on the Amarok requires at least a quarter of a tank of fuel to be present, and 10 to 15 minutes of driving with the engine spinning at over 2,200rpm consistently. During this time you may notice increased fuel consumption, a slightly different sound from the engine, and a burning smell.
VW Amarok DPF Warning Light
As the VW Amarok DPF blocks very quickly, the DPF warning light can be on for a very short time before limp-home mode kicks in. Once the limp-home mode is activated, the blockage is greater than 50% and active regeneration is no longer possible; instead, a forced regeneration is required at the Volkswagen Van Centre or, in more severe cases, even a DPF replacement. The cost is usually covered as part of the warranty if it’s the vehicles’ first time.
VW Amarok DPF Problems: How to Avoid Them
Those knocking around farm sites, building sites and the cities are bound to encounter these problems more frequently than those clocking up motorway miles. If the DPF light does appear, head straight for the open road and drop down a gear to keep the revs high, which in turn will increase the temperature of the exhaust gases and burn off the trapped soot.