The chances are, if you own a new diesel car, you’re going to be keeping it topped up with some AdBlue. Most diesel cars use it these days as well as fuel. Our guide explains it all.
What is AdBlue and what does it do?
When the Euro 6 came into force in 2016, this changed the game when it comes to emission regulations. This change meant that it was time to minimise nitrogen-oxide emissions and along came AdBlue.
AdBlue is a liquid that is added to diesel cars, helping to reduce the harmful emissions that it can create. When this liquid meets a hot exhaust it acts as a catalyst. It converts your vehicle exhaust gases to produce a chemical reaction that neutralises harmful emissions.
The solution itself is distilled water and urea, which is a substance that you find in urine and fertilisers, sounds crazy when you think about it. It’s non-toxic, has a slightly sweet smell, and can be a bit sticky if you get your hands on it, nothing you won’t be able to handle.
How does AdBlue work?
You don’t need to know much more than how to fill up your AdBlue, it's pretty basic. AdBlue works on a metered system that is pre-set by your vehicle’s manufacturer. If you look in your vehicle handbook it will explain everything in detail there too. Just in case you are interested and fancy learning more about AdBlue, the main thing is, that it’s safe to use. It’s mainly ionised water and urea, there’s not much more to it than that.
Its effectiveness in being able to break down the harmful mono-nitrogen oxides in diesel exhaust has been proven. You could say that it’s pretty reliable too.
Which cars need AdBlue
If you’ve got a diesel car that was registered after September 2015, you’re probably going to find that it will use AdBlue to help reduce emissions. Generally, if you own a Euro 6 compliant diesel, such as Audi or BMW, then you’re probably also going to find that it uses AdBlue. Sometimes you can tell by the vehicle’s model name as it might have ‘Blue’ in it.
What happens if you run out of AdBlue?
It’s not the end of the world, but ignoring your AdBlue warning light isn’t ideal. If you run out of AdBlue while you're driving, it will more than likely affect the way the performance. By this, we mean your car will be trying to reduce its emissions and will go into ‘limp mode’ at the same time. This means that it will be reducing the speed and sometimes it will turn off your radio or your air conditioning as it helps to preserve the power.
The main thing is that you refill as soon as you can, because letting your AdBlue completely run out isn’t the best idea. With the majority of modern cars these days, once you’ve stopped and you’ve run out of AdBlue, it's unlikely you’re going to be able to get your car restarted again. If you’ve got refills, bonus. These are pretty straightforward and usually pretty cheap for you to do them yourself and fill up when you need to.
Where can you buy AdBlue
Your AdBlue levels should be checked regularly. You’ll probably find that at every service you’ll have it topped up and checked. In between this time, your dealer will probably be happy to refill it for you as well. If you run out, your safest bet is to check out the fuel stations, that’s where you’re likely to find some.
These days you’re looking at either 10 or 20-litres and you should expect to pay anything from around £1.50 per litre too if you’re buying it in a bottle or about 60 per litre from a fuel station pump.
How to top up your AdBlue
Not every car allows for you to refill the AdBlue tank, but the majority will do. Most of the time you’ll find your AdBlue filler spout next to your diesel filler and it will usually have a blue cap on it. If you can’t find it there, then it could be in the boot or the spare wheel well. If you’re stuck and haven’t got a clue, then your handbook should be able to guide you to where it is.
Once you’ve got your AdBlue, the key is to just make sure you don’t accidentally pour it into the diesel tank. If you do, your tank will need draining and flushing. Fingers crossed this wouldn’t happen as the nozzle is too big.
You normally get a nozzle with the AdBlue to help make pouring it a bit easier. If not, you could check out your nearest fuel station for an AdBlue pump if that makes filling up easier for you. If you find that your car doesn’t have a dedicated AdBlue filler, then your best bet is to go to your garage to get it refilled.