What is AdBlue?

You may not have heard of AdBlue, also referred to as diesel exhaust fluid, but owners of diesel cars with Euro 5-or Euro 6 compliant engines will have heard of it. This guide explains what AdBlue is used for, how it works, where to buy it and what will happen if your car runs out.

AdBlue is a fluid which is automatically sprayed into a car’s exhaust system to reduce the nitrous oxide emissions of diesel engines. AdBlue is made of a mixture of urea and deionised water. The widespread usage of AdBlue in modern diesel trucks coincided with stricter Euro 6 emissions standards that have been in effect since 2016. AdBlue makes it much easier to lower the emissions of diesel cars so they comply with these regulations.

AdBlue is usually checked and topped up if necessary during a normal service, but it’s a good idea to check it and top it up between these intervals. Almost all cars that use AdBlue are fitted with a gauge on the dashboard to warn you if you’re running low. You can buy AdBlue from major retailers such as Halfords.

How does AdBlue work?

To comply with Euro 6 regulations, many new diesel-powered cars built since 2016 use SCR technology to inject tiny quantities of AdBlue into the car’s exhaust gases. When this solution combines with exhaust emissions, it breaks down the harmful mono-nitrogen oxides in diesel exhaust. This technology has been used in buses and heavy lorries for a long time, so its effectiveness has been proven and its reliability is better than ever.

Does AdBlue affect fuel consumption?

Manufacturers have yet to release any data to suggest that AdBlue has an adverse effect on fuel consumption. Economy figures for a new diesel car on sale in the UK will factor in any effect from the use of AdBlue in any case.

Developments in engine technology, changes to the way economy figures are calculated and a range of other variables means it’s essentially impossible to find differences in fuel consumption between new and older cars and attribute them solely to the use of AdBlue.

What is AdBlue made of?

AdBlue is a non-toxic liquid that’s colourless in appearance and is essentially a solution of water and urea – a substance found in urine. However, in AdBlue, the urea is exceptionally pure and is of a higher grade than that used in cosmetics, glue or fertilisers. Similarly, the water is demineralised, which is far cleaner than water from the tap.

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