By Matt Burns, CE Sales Manager for the Rochester Area

Equipment dealers have become experts at working with, diagnosing, and fixing emissions-related issues. Below are a few important considerations when dealing with DEF to help set up you up for success and hopefully keep you from needing to call your local dealer for anything other than fluids and filters. 

DEF or Diesel Exhaust Fluid is a non-hazardous solution (32.5% urea / 67.5% de-ionized water) that can be sprayed into the exhaust stream of diesel vehicles to break down dangerous NOx emissions into harmless nitrogen and water. In 2015 the current EPA regulations covering Tier 4 Final non-road diesel engines came into effect. All diesel engines in this category require DEF at 75HP (Horse Power) and above. JCB utilizes a highly efficient SCR system that does not require a DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter). JCB also has a growing number of options for equipment at 74HP that do not require a DEF system.

Things to consider when dealing with DEF:

1). DEF Quality

In Tier 4 Final engines, with a DEF system, the DEF Quality is measured during the first 60 seconds after start-up. The DEF head (image below) has a sight glass that sits at the bottom of the DEF tank and ensures that the urea percentage of 32.5% is in tolerance. DEF quality can be affected by age, sunlight, air, heat, and contamination. If the DEF fluid is out of tolerance a fault code will result and will eventually lead to the equipment shutting down. DEF has a shelf life of about 2 years and I recommend that customers use 2-gallon containers. Larger containers may seem convenient but unless you are using large quantities it may expire before you can finish it. Store your DEF away from sunlight, between 12 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit and limit its exposure to air. In my opinion, the biggest issue concerning DEF quality is contamination. Any debris that gets into the def system can throw off the tolerance needed or possibly damage the system. It’s not always a clean environment where we store or fill our DEF tanks. Using a dirty funnel could be enough contamination to throw the system off. This is another reason for using 2-gallon jugs since they come with their own nozzle. 2-Gallon containers of DEF are readily available at most gas stations, but before you buy make sure they are not storing it in direct sunlight!


2). Freezing Temperatures

DEF systems are designed with cold weather in mind. DEF will freeze but the tank is built with extra room for expansion (do not overfill your DEF tank). Every time the engine is turned off the lines that supply DEF to the SCR system will be pumped back into the tank. It takes 60 seconds for the pump to get all the DEF out of the lines. If you use the battery disconnect on your JCB make sure you wait the full minute to allow the DEF lines to drain completely. If DEF stays in the lines and freezes, they will burst and make a mess! At the start of the day if the DEF is completely frozen you will still be able to work at 100% while the DEF tank defrosts. There are heating elements in the tank and lines that will thaw the DEF and keep it from freezing while you work.            

3). Idle Time

JCB’s SCR system does not require a DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) and it does not require regeneration. However, it works best when having at least an hour a week of running and working at high RPMs. Today’s equipment is meant to go to work and extended low idle time could eventually create problems. If you have an application that requires prolonged idle time, make sure you get that hour of work with high RPM time every week or consider a 74HP option that does not require a DEF system. JCB currently offers skid steers, backhoes, compact wheel loaders, Telehandlers, Excavators, Rough Terrain Fork Trucks, etc. in 74HP options.     

JCB’s 512-56 – The first 12,000lb lift capacity Telehandler with no after treatment!

Knowing how your emissions system works and using best practices will help you get the most of your Tier 4 Final Equipment. Manufacturers and Dealers have come a long way in managing the latest emissions standards and the challenges they present. If you do have an issue be assured your local dealer and technicians can get you back up and running quickly. If you are in the market for new equipment talk to your local dealer and see what options may be available. A 74HP option with no DEF, DPF, or any after treatment may be a great fit for you.

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