What is DPF delete & should you do it?

What is DPF delete & should you do it?
DPF delete is the process of removing the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) from a vehicle’s exhaust system and reprogramming the Engine Control Unit (ECU) to work without the diesel particulate filter. The goal of such a modification is usually to improve vehicle performance and, potentially, reduce maintenance costs. Some users also report improved fuel efficiency.

Yet, while it sounds great, there are some risks and drawbacks involved with performing a DPF delete. The diesel particulate filter is intended to reduce emissions and air pollution, so removing it will by necessity raise both of those effects.

How does DPF delete work?

DPF delete is performed by first physically removing the diesel particulate filter from the vehicle (assuming that all the necessary tools and programming skills are in place). The vehicle is then connected to DPF delete kits or specific tools that are capable of reprogramming the ECU.
Reprogramming the ECU is necessary because performing a DPF delete would otherwise cause the vehicle to output fault codes, force the car into limp mode, and cause other operational issues.
Additionally, all DPF functions are also removed from the ECU. Alternatively, a DPF delete kit could allow the user to circumvent regular operations to avoid deleting the functions.
Once the operations are performed, the vehicle is then tested for proper operation to ensure that no mistakes were made during the DPF delete process.
Close-up view of the underside of a car showing a stainless steel aftermarket exhaust component, with surrounding heat shielding materials.

Why is DPF delete useful?

Removing the diesel particulate filter has several advantages, mainly related to performance and maintenance costs. DPF delete promoters usually state that the primary reason for performing such modifications is to improve the car’s performance, which is, in fact, highly likely in many cases.
DPF delete removes limitations that are usually imposed upon the exhaust process, allowing gasses to be expelled more freely, reducing exhaust backpressure. As a result, torque and horsepower increase slightly.
Additionally, the DPF requires periodic regeneration cycles to burn off accumulated soot. These regeneration cycles require some fuel to be performed, therefore fuel costs may decrease slightly. Improved exhaust flow may also allow the engine to operate more efficiently, which may also lead to further reductions in fuel consumption.
Finally, the obvious benefit is reduced maintenance costs as you’re simply removing a part of the car. You also won’t have to clean up a clogged DPF filter. As such, assuming no other issues arise due to DPF delete, maintaining the vehicle may be a little cheaper.
It should be noted, however, that DPF removal isn’t a magic bullet that will turn a regular car into a supercar. Performance and fuel economy gains will likely be somewhat marginal, so it’s only beneficial to those people that want to squeeze out all the horsepower and torque out of their vehicle.
Close-up view of a car's digital dashboard displaying various information, including a warning light for the diesel particulate filter.

Why is DPF delete risky?

While DPF delete may bring performance benefits to cars with diesel engines, there are several drawbacks associated with the process. These risks are heightened in countries or states where environmental restrictions are more stringent.
Since DPF delete removes a filter intended to reduce emissions, it’ll increase nitrogen oxide and other particulates in exhaust gas. Outside of environmental concerns, many countries restrict vehicle exhaust gas emissions, and DPF deletes may put your vehicle outside of those limits. As such, there are potential negative legal implications if you perform such a modification.
Hefty fines aren’t the only risk. DPF removal will almost certainly void any warranty on your car and may affect insurance rates. In some areas the car may become uninsurable due to custom modifications that make it illegal to drive.
Additionally, outside of DPF delete enthusiasts, the car's resale value will likely be lower due to these modifications. Some drivers may see the removal of the DPF system as a drawback, especially if they will want to add it back as it would raise maintenance costs for them.
Finally, it’s worth noting the social costs imposed on other people. While you may want to delete DPF for engine performance gains, the exhaust system is also used to protect the environment and other people from harmful particulates.
For example, the World Health Organization states that the exhaust gasses of diesel engines are carcinogenic to humans. DPF deletes may raise the carcinogenicity of the exhaust gas due to a higher number of particles emitted. So, while it won’t directly affect your health, it may cause serious damage to other people.
Exhaust from a car's tailpipe emitting a thick cloud of black smoke, indicative of an engine malfunction or excessive pollution, on a road surface.


DPF deletes are often performed to improve engine performance and to reduce the total cost of maintaining the car. While there are marginal gains in both fuel mileage and performance, there are major risks associated with using a DPF delete kit.
Primarily, there are fairly large legal ramifications in some countries where car emissions are heavily restricted—driving a car without the filter installed could lead to fines. Additionally, the vehicle may become uninsurable or require larger payments to maintain insurance.
There are other things to be considered as well, such as the negative health effects on others. In the end, DPF removal is a tradeoff wherein you get more power for your car but raise the financial and social risk of driving it as well.
If you decide to perform such modifications, make sure that the entire process is performed by a professional. Improper engine control unit tuning may lead to reduced longevity or damage due to exhaust backpressure or other changes that move the vehicle outside of safe engine operating conditions.