480A, 481A Fault Codes, DPF Blocked

As of May 2018 a removed DPF is now an instant MOT Fail, the check is not only visual but the emissions test limits have been drastically lowered. If your vehicle has had the DPF removed, contact us for solutions to get your car legal.

One of the more common sets of fault codes we see come from the BMW diesel engines produced after around 2005/2006. They relate to the Diesel Particulate Filter otherwise known as the DPF. 

These fault codes are 480A and 481A. Both of these fault codes relate to the DPF being excessively clogged, in other words blocked. Usual symptoms include the DPF light on the dash, and a lack of power.

Whilst it is true that very short stop-start type journeys can cause these filters to block up it is not always the case, we would say this is only true in a very low percentage of all the cases we see, say around 5%.

In all other cases we are usually able to identify another cause which has had the knock on effect of causing the filter to block up, we simply carry out the diagnostics, identify any faults, rectify any faults found, and then regenerate the DPF using the diagnostic software.

What we are seeing more than ever are customers who have been to “non-specialist” garages who don’t really understand what is happening with the DPF filters and who instantly brand them “troublesome” “a nuisance” and convince the customer to either:

A. Have them replaced at a considerably costs, usually between £1200-£2000 – this will only provide a temporary solution and any underlying faults will quickly cause the filter to block back up.
B. They will remove the filter, sometimes with a straight through pipe, sometimes by simply smashing the internals of the filter to pieces. – This is illegal and should it be detected is a straight MOT FAIL. It will also cause the car to smoke under acceleration. The cost then to replace the DPF can be between £1200-£2000.

Having been an Independent specialist since 2011 and with over 30 years of BMW experience and training ( the majority of which was at a local BMW Main Dealer ) with have yet to have to replace a DPF, saving our customers thousands in repairs.

So if you have been told the filter needs replacing or you are better off ripping it out, get in touch and we will happily carry out a diagnostic check, talk with you and decide on the best plan of action to get the fault resolved quickly, efficiently and most importantly cost effectively.

Remember DPF filters are there for a very good reason. Diesel engines produce very fine soot particulates which when inhaled can end up in the lungs – not very good for obvious reasons.

There are ways in which you can lower the chances of your DPF becoming blocked up in the first instance such as:

  • Using a premium diesel fuel – this will give a cleaner burn and lower the soot being produced by the engine
  • Use the correct grade oil – engine oil absorbs soot, the better the oil the more soot it can absorb
  • Interim oil changes – Long life servicing pushes engine oil to the limit, an annual oil change will reduce the chances of the expensive repairs.
  • Keeping the tank topped up. – BMW cars will not regenerate the DPF if there is less than 10L of fuel in the tank.
  • Longer Drives – if your diesel is mainly restricted to town driving, take it for a run once a week for around 30-40 minutes at speeds between 50-70mph this should enable the DPF to regenerate should it need to.
  • DPF Fuel addatives – We stock and sell Forte DPF Cleaner, this goes in the fuel tank and aids DPF regeneration.


For BMW and Mini DPF Faults in the West Midlands, Birmingham, and South Staffordshire areas BM Automotive Solutions, have the solutions!



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