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How to reset/regenerate/clear your DPF warning light (Diesel Particulate Filter)

How it works and why the light may come on

The Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) is part of your exhaust and controls the 'soot' that would otherwise be expelled from the system. You may have noticed that modern diesels no longer leave you in a cloud of smelly black smoke when they accelerate off.

The filter collects a certain amount of these harmful deposits and then burns them off at an extremely high temperature (450 degrees c). In normal driving this will happen without you being aware but on continued short journeys the particals can build up and remain 'stuck' in the system. It's at this point the warning light will come on and your intervention is required.

How to clean, clear and reset (regenerate) the system

You should drive your vehicle for approximately 15 minutes keeping the engine revs between 2000 - 2500 rpm. This is probably best done on an A road. Keep the car in a lower than normal gear (use 'S' on an automatic) in order to keep the revs up.

What happens if I ignore the light?

The simple answer is DON'T! If you continue to drive and simply hope the light will go off (which it won't) you risk two things. Firstly the filter will become so blocked it can no longer be cleared, even by your dealer. It won't be covered by warranty and you'll have no change from £600+. Worse still the Cat/DPF will get so hot in it's attempt to burn off the soot, it can catch fire!

I've tried but the light won't go out

When the filter reaches a certain percentage full it can no longer clean itself and neither can you by driving in the correct style. At this point the vehicle must be taken to a VW dealer (See - "What happens if I ignore the light")

I've got more than one warning light on

If the Emmission Control Light and/or the Engine Managment warning light come on at the same time as the DPF there's a more serious fault. At this point you should contact your recovery company or Volkswagen Assistance on 0800 777192 if your VW is under 1 year old (Phaeton & Touareg have a 3 year breakdown cover).

The “How to” information on this site is for guidance only. Do not attempt a repair if you are not appropriately trained or do not have the correct tools or equipment to conduct a repair safely. Please refer to your drivers handbook. takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for any loss, injury or damage however caused. No claim can be made against us for loss of earnings, inconvenience or any other incurred expenses. Unless otherwise stated, all contents are copyright ©


The light on your dash board will look like this.


Drive the vehicle for approx 15 minutes keeping the engine revs between 2000 - 2500 rpm.


For automatic vehicles use the 'S' setting in order to keep the revs up.


If the light doesn't go off consult your Volkswagen Retailer. Don't continue to drive as there is a risk of fire!


If additional lights come on, stop the vehicle and arrange recovery to your dealer.

Related Links: VW dash warning lights - what they mean

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