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What is AdBlue?

Date: 01 September 2016   |   Author: Daniel Puddicombe

Most new diesel cars and vans now contain a filler cap named 'AdBlue' which can usually be found under the vehicle's fuel cap, but what is it and what is AdBlue used for? BusinessCar investigates.

Since the tighter, more stringent, diesel Euro 6 emissions regulations came into force in September 2014 for cars, many manufacturers have found that using 'selective catalytic reduction' technology makes it possible for the engine to meet these targets. The technology works by injecting tiny amounts of urea and water into the exhaust, thus cleansing the gases before they reach the tailpipe.

What is AdBlue used for?

Despite it having the word 'blue' in its name, AdBlue is actually colourless. At a high temperature, the liquid aims to break down harmful gases into oxygen and nitrogen oxides as the car travels along the road, significantly reducing the particles being emited.

While the technology is relatively new for cars, bus and lorry drivers have been using the additives since 2006.

How long does AdBlue last for?

Only small amounts of AdBlue are used at a time and for most drivers, a tank (generally up to 30 litres) should last between services, however high-mileage company car drivers may not have that luxury. According to Volkswagen, its Passat model uses 1.5-litres every 620 miles, however, like diesel, the faster you drive, the more AdBlue your car will use thanks to the car burning through fuel more quickly.

What are the benefits of using AdBlue?

The main advantage of using AdBlue is that it reduces exhaust emissions by converting NOx to nitrogen and water which in turn reduces the amount of pollution in the air, while it is claimed a car fitted with AdBlue consumes between 2-5% less fuel than a similar vehicle without the technology.

How do you refill AdBlue?

Your car should warn you via messages on the dashboard when its time to top up your AdBlue and most engines won't start if the tank is completely empty, to avoid putting off refilling it for too long. 

To fill up your AdBlue tank, you have one of two options - getting a dealer to do it, or doing it yourself.

The former can be quite pricey - we recently had to refill our long-term Land Rover Discovery Sport and was charged £62.20 by the dealer. We noted in the future we could save the £29 labour fee by buying our own bottle and filling up the car ourselves as it is very similar to refilling a screenwash bottle.

AdBlue typically has a 12-month shelf-life and it is recommended it is stored  between 11-30 degrees.

How much does AdBlue cost?

AdBlue is readily available from fuel stations and also motoring accessory stores, but the AdBlue price varies. Halfords will sell you a 10-litre can for £20, however, if you have a large fleet of new diesel vehicles it may prove more cost effective to bulk-buy your additives.

Commercial Fuel Solutions, for instance, offers 10 litre cans in packs of 40 for £340.

For fleets which have fixed-price service plans included in the cost of the vehicle, AdBlue top-ups should be included.

Why should fleets pay attention to AdBlue?

It is likely that more and more diesel cars will be fitted with AdBlue tanks in the future as the regulations get stricter. Also, for those fleets which operate a number of vans, it is also worth noting that the Euro 6 regulations are coming in from next month, so several new vans on the market may be fitted with an AdBlue tank moving forwards.

Read more:

Alphabet warns of Adblue misuse ahead

Vauxhall offers free labour when filling up with AdBlue

Northgate highlights Adblue Euro6 issues