Emergency bypass solution for Adblue shutdown?

Discussion in '2012-2016 VW Passat TDI forum' started by dk952, Mar 14, 2013.

  1. dk952

    dk952 New Member

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    I have read a few comments stating that an Adblue pump failure caused a shutdown in frigid conditions. Is there any way to bypass this problem? Or what if the solution tank runs low, my wife ignores it too long, and the car won't restart? Is there a Plan B if you out in the sticks and your TDI won't start simply because of an Adblue issue - whatever it is? I know you supposedly get plenty of warning and 99.9% of the time there wont be a problem. I just don't like the idea of the car refusing to start simply because of an Adblue problem. It's not oil, fuel, or coolant.....
     
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  2. chittychittybangbang

    chittychittybangbang Administrator

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    As far as I know, no.

    Also, your car is a B7 (NMS) so moving out of the mk4 section.
     
  3. lwt42

    lwt42 Well-Known Member

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    AdBlue is a trademarked name for Diesel Exhaust Fluid -- it's part of the car emissions system.

    I remember the thread about cold weather and AdBlue, but I don't know if we ever saw a reply that said it was in fact due to AdBlue freezing or some other issue.

    As I remember, the conditions weren't really cold enough.

    The car will start complaining when it has 1500 miles of AdBlue left. From what I've been able to figure out, it's fairly insistent -- far more than say low oil.

    1500 miles is fairly generous, and it isn't hard to buy DEF.
     
  4. lightflyer1

    lightflyer1 Member

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    If it really worries you keep a spare VW bottle of it in the trunk. Nothing to do about a broken pump though but see the dealer if under warranty.
     
  5. lwt42

    lwt42 Well-Known Member

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    If I remember correctly, it takes THREE bottles to turn the warning off -- and you have to let the car sit 30 seconds with the "key" on for it to notice that it has been topped-up.

    AdBlue has a shelf-life.

    According to the FAQ (and a little math) the car uses about a half-gallon every 1500 miles.

    I think I'd just check the odometer periodically and add based on miles driven.

    Call it 3 1/2 gallons every oil change.
     
  6. VW_norm

    VW_norm Member

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    First oil change at 9800 miles, required 2.75 gallons DEF to refill tank using VW filler bottle for the first 1/2 gallon, twisting off the plunger top, and refilling the VW bottle from the bulk 2.5 gallons I got at NAPA for $10.50. Was cheaper than wally world. And no spills, drips or muss to clean up afterwards.
     
  7. dk952

    dk952 New Member

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    There is a deeper issue here -

    Thanks for all the replies.
    My concern is about the unusual circumstance which I read in this forum about the Adblue system malfunctioning for whatever reason - even though it was full; but yet disabling the car. It doesn't make any difference what the reason is, running w/o Adblue until you can get it fixed is not going to hurt the engine.
    The engine needs the other fluids - coolant and oil and fuel; but not Adblue. If it runs out of coolant or oil I would hope the engine would shut down before it's damaged- after all, it wont go very far w/o it. And I would hope it shuts down shortly before it runs out of fuel, cause that's hard on pumps. But if it runs out of an Adblue what is it going to hurt?
    Running out of Adblue is not an emergency for the engine, but shutting down the car because of Adblue could conceivably be a life and death emergency for the driver & occupants. Is our environment more important than a human life?
     
  8. lwt42

    lwt42 Well-Known Member

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    Here is the original thread: http://www.myturbodiesel.com/forum/f26/adblue-error-no-re-start-very-cold-day-22224/

    The original poster, DonZ, says that "wrench" light came on and the MDI had "an error" on it.

    He then goes on to speculate -- and it's speculation.

    The car didn't shut down on him. He was smart enough to keep driving until he got to a safe place where someone could look at the car. The car did re-start at the dealer.

    The temperatures were above the freezing point of AdBlue and the AdBlue tank on a Passat is heated, so it's not that.

    ... and DonZ never came back to tell us the final resolution: all we know is what he said in his three posts.

    It would be nice to find out, but there are so many potential failures on any car that I wouldn't single out one system as being dangerous. You could even argue that protecting the HPFP (which you said is acceptable) isn't worth a single human life.

    I'll give you a far more critical example: the fly-by-wire system on Airbus planes will not let the pilot exceed the strength of the airframe, no matter what. The fly-by-wire system on a Boeing plane will. Both philosophies have saved lives -- and caused crashes.

    P.S. shutting down the engine while you're in motion is a huge safety issue, so no car is ever going to do this by design.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 16, 2013
  9. dk952

    dk952 New Member

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    Will you get a warning that the car will not restart until the problem is fixed?
     
  10. lwt42

    lwt42 Well-Known Member

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    Normal operation is for the car to start warning you that you have 1500 miles of AdBlue remaining.

    It will continue to warn you every time you start the car, with a revised estimate of how many miles are left.

    When that reaches zero, it will tell you that the car will not start again until you top off the Adblue tank.

    So, for normal operation, you have to ignore the warnings for 1500 miles. If you commute 300 miles per week, that's five weeks of warnings.

    It's possible for a malfunctioning AdBlue system to warn you that you won't be able to start the car again until it's fixed. If it's a true malfunction, you'd want to stop close to a diesel mechanic, preferably a german one.

    We don't know the final resolution of DonZ's problem (if any). It could have been extreme cold, or something totally different. Be nice if he reported back....

    He did say his car started without difficulty at the dealer the next day.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 17, 2013
  11. rico567

    rico567 Member

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    I have to think that there's no bypass for the AdBlue shutdown mechanism because some people would simply employ the bypass to avoid having to buy any more. I'm sure we're not talking about any of the folks on this thread, but it's inevitable that there would be people doing this, effectively defeating the emissions system, like the old "test tube" installations that were used back in the day to avoid having a catalytic converter (and that are strictly illegal now).
     
  12. dk952

    dk952 New Member

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    If the catalytic converter fails or goes bad it will not restrict your car from starting, will it? This Adblue system could potentially fail w/o giving any warning and restrict the car from starting. Sure, some people may abuse it, or neglect it for a while, but that would be a small percentage.
     
  13. lwt42

    lwt42 Well-Known Member

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    That's wonderfully optimistic thinking.

    I suspect there is a percentage who, for whatever reason, would run the AdBlue tank to Empty, turn off the warning and leave it that way.

    .... and I suspect there are a whole lot of people who would be a little bit too lazy, invoke the bypass, and then drive the car, never quite getting around to figuring out what AdBlue was, why it matters, where to buy it.

    Some that won't bother to find a cheap source of AdBlue and be unwilling to spend the money to refill the tank.

    The only way a manufacturer can get a diesel approved in 50 states is to make sure it runs clean, or doesn't run at all.

    The exception, for right now, is a Jetta. It doesn't need AdBlue, but it is a smaller car, and less mileage.

    I think we're focusing on the AdBlue system and ignoring things like:

    • Failed fuel pump
    • Injector failures
    • Clogged fuel filter (dirt or cold)
    • Blown cooling system hose

    I'm sure there are a lot of other things we could add to the list, and I realize that an AdBlue failure is a rare case where the failure to restart could be intentional.

    Re-read the original thread: as far as I can tell DonZ's car didn't actually shut down on him, it just tossed up some pretty scary warnings.
     
  14. Jeff S

    Jeff S New Member

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    It turns out your concern is valid. I have a Passat 2013 tdi SEL. I get getting sporadic notices that I was low on adblue- like a 90 mile notice- when I new it was nearly full. Sometimes it would go away, or I could do a reset using the steering wheel controls. Yesterday, after having it in the shop the day before - I get a 70 warning! I stop at a highway rest stop ad some Peak DEF. it only takes about 8 to 10 oz. still reads 70 miles. I have no choice but to continue because my car is loaded and I'm taking my daughter to college with 90 miles to go and a 165 mile return trip. When it hits zero I leave the car running and call a dealer - but service is closed. I call VW roadside service- they say try reset in manual. I'm afraid to shut it down and get stuck until Monday when a dealer opens. I leave it idling all day unpacking my daughter and drive 165 miles home. The tank is fuel. I shut it down , tried the reset in manual- won't start. Disconnected battery for 15 minutes - still no start code. Have to have it towed to VW dealer. I would have been stranded for two days if I followed VW's advice!
     
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  15. ggbaas

    ggbaas Member

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    I think this is a real big issue with VWs and possibly other new emission compliant diesels. It seems that the repair is only covered under warranty. Once the warranty passes, it appears from comments from folks that have had this problem, that the repair is is not covered under emissions compliance or recall. I have a reluctor error code, but my adblue sustem is still functioning. I am going to wait for winter to check if the adblue heater is still functioning. If my adblue heater is dead I need to decide if I have it fixed or eliminate the emissions. It seems that Malone has a reflash that eliminates the adblue functions and emissions.

    I wonder if concerns like this are what keeps other manufacturers from selling more diesels into the North America. This is my main disappointed with my 2012 Passat tdi .
     
  16. lwt42

    lwt42 Well-Known Member

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    I think Chevy got this right, and wish VW would copy them. If you're "out" of AdBlue, you can still drive. Each time the car starts, the top speed is limited -- slower each time. I think the ultimate limit is 5 miles per hour -- which will at least get you to a place to call for help.

    When this thread started in 2013, my Passat was new, and so was the whole AdBlue thing. I've had no problems with the system. I even let it run down until the warnings started.

    That said, if your car starts sending warnings about something, and behaving erratically (warning about low DEF, then the warnings go away) I think you're being warned that something odd is happening, and if you can't solve it yourself (if adding DEF doesn't help, for example) then it's time to dig deeper.

    I would hope you'll come back and tell us what failed, how many miles you have on your car, and was it covered.

    I've been holding this back, but I grew up in the L.A. Air Basin in the 1960's. When I was in Elementary School there were many many days that we simply could not run and play outside -- not without getting these horrible hacking coughs. They were called "smog coughs" -- and no one warned that the air was unhealthful.

    This is around the time emission controls started turning up on cars.

    The air in Los Angeles is dramatically cleaner now than it was 50 years ago. I can breathe even on the worst days.

    Sometimes I wish my Passat smoked like the old Mercedes 300D -- people don't tailgate those. I'm just as happy that I don't have black soot all over the back of my car.

    So, that's why if the DPF clogs, I'll complain vehemently, and fix the problem so the whole emissions system works.
     
  17. lwt42

    lwt42 Well-Known Member

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    Please read this post.

    I had many of these fears when I got my car in 2013. 75,000 warning-free miles later, I intentionally skipped a fill up to see what the car does.

    The on-board tank holds about 15,000 miles. VW lists "top up AdBlue" as part of every oil change, that's 10,000 miles.

    If you follow that recommendation, you're always 5,000 miles away from running out of AdBlue.
     
  18. sthompson

    sthompson New Member

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    I am having the same issue with my 2014 Passat TDI. What did the dealer say?????
     
  19. lwt42

    lwt42 Well-Known Member

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    I don't know what Jeff's dealer said, but the only thing that occurs to me is a problem with the level sensor in the tank, or in the wiring.

    If you know the tank is full, and it's intermittently telling you that it's low, then the problem needs to be fixed. It will eventually fail "empty" which is what happened to Jeff.

    This should be covered under the emissions system warranty, since AdBlue is a mandatory part of the emissions system.
     
  20. jeremy i

    jeremy i New Member

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    Mine is currently sitting the the driveway with a full tank of AdBlue. The on dash warning is at 0 and car won't start. Guess I have to get it towed and spend my hard earned money on some German piece of crap with 42k miles.
     

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