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Old 08-11-2015, 12:03 AM   #1
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When to add DEF to engine

Brother, I get good help on this forum (2016'Grand Tour Newby).

Question-what is pattern for dealing with adding DEF? Do you wait til light comes on or do you add fluid every 1,000 miles or so?

First time I've dealt with this issue m

Thanks
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Old 08-11-2015, 12:21 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Bobsprinter View Post
Question-what is pattern for dealing with adding DEF? Do you wait til light comes on or do you add fluid every 1,000 miles or so?
When you get the first warning message, you still have a 1.5 gallons left, which should take you another 1000 miles on 0.7 gallons of it, before you start getting the "countdown to breakdown" warnings. The warnings start with "You have 16 starts left" when you have about 0.8 gallons left, which will take you another 1200 miles before you run completely out, unless you run out of engine starts first.

So if you wait until you get the first "Check DEF" warning, you'll have about 1000 miles to find a source of DEF and add more before it starts to become problematic due to the countdown.

I've never added DEF before getting the "Check DEF" message, there's no need. But opinions do differ on that score; some people like to keep the DEF tank full enough that they never even get a "Check DEF" message in the first place.
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Old 08-11-2015, 12:24 AM   #3
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I typically get about 10K miles to the five gallon tank so I usually fill around 9K. YMMV

If you wait for the lite, you only get about 25 starts after that. At least that was the way I remembered it when it happened on a trip several years ago. Wound up buying a gallon at local auto parts store and made a funnel out of aluminum foil for the very tiny fill opening.

You can get DEF in 2.5 gallon containers w/ a very handy pour spout (handy because the fill opening is very small) for about $11 @ Sam's Club or Walmart.
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Old 08-11-2015, 06:02 AM   #4
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I've tracked it very closely for the first 5000 miles of our new AI ... because of some postings and conversations, I was just a little paranoid about getting that check light.

Now that I'm pretty confident I get easily 2000 miles / gallon, I'll probably be adding a gallon every 2500 miles or so. And if I run low for some reason and the light comes on, I know that I'll be able to get a gallon at most Walmarts and a lot of truck stops.
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Old 08-11-2015, 06:05 AM   #5
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Two of the companies I've worked for have directed drivers to keep DEF tanks (19-gl) topped off. Fewer reported problems on semi tractors (15L engines).
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Old 08-11-2015, 07:53 AM   #6
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I have tryed to keep my 2011 full without wasting part of an open jug. Recently I let the light come on. It caused the check engine light to also come on. Added DEF and one light went off check engine did not. Dealer reset light. Week later poor DEF message came on. Dealer said bad nox prob and ordered one. Now all has reset and working fine and trying to decide if to carry back to dealer or wait and see. Is this all related to running out, I don't know but I intend to keep it full.
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Old 08-11-2015, 08:37 AM   #7
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Just wait till the first warning and then fill it up to the top using the DEF pump at a truck stop. It is not accurate that there is a fixed number of starts (25 or otherwise) from the first warning. Protagonist's information is correct. You will have PLENTY of time to find a DEF source before you see the second warning (the one with the countdown).

If you get a check engine light, something is broken. Your DEF habits will neither cause nor cure that.
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Old 08-11-2015, 08:44 AM   #8
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Also, no matter where, when, or how you fill the DEF tank, be sure to clean up any spills right away. Spilled DEF will damage paint.
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Old 08-11-2015, 11:39 AM   #9
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I noticed that if I wait until the DEF tank gauge gets past , then a 2 gallon box of DEF will refill it.

That concept works for me.
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Old 08-11-2015, 11:44 AM   #10
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I noticed that if I wait until the DEF tank gauge gets past , then a 2 gallon box of DEF will refill it.

That concept works for me.
If only a Sprinter van/Airstream Interstate HAD a DEF tank gauge! But if it does, I sure don't know where it is, and I'd be glad for any information anyone may have on the subject.
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Old 08-11-2015, 03:06 PM   #11
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I have tryed to keep my 2011 full without wasting part of an open jug. Recently I let the light come on. It caused the check engine light to also come on. Added DEF and one light went off check engine did not. Dealer reset light. Week later poor DEF message came on. Dealer said bad nox prob and ordered one. Now all has reset and working fine and trying to decide if to carry back to dealer or wait and see. Is this all related to running out, I don't know but I intend to keep it full.
THAT'S why I was paranoid about letting it get to the warning light

And yes, a gauge would eliminate the need for all these threads wouldn't it?!
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Old 08-11-2015, 04:02 PM   #12
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We have a 2013 Sprinter one-ton that is not in an interstate but rather which we use to tow our 28' International. We let the DEF run until the warning came on at very close to 10K miles on the odometer. It's a neat countdown that lets you know how many starts are left. We bought some DEF from NAPA, and though we are mechanical klutzes, had no problem filling it up at all. It took the entire amount, so none left over to carry around or dispose of.

A friend who drives big rigs for a living pointed out that you can get DEF at any of the diesel truck fill ups like Love's. We tend to try to avoid these as there are often major diesel spills from the faster diesel pumps, but the DEF is less expensive there and you could just put in a gallon or two.
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Old 08-11-2015, 04:42 PM   #13
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Does anyone keep a box of DEF in the back of the Sprinter for that event of the DEF message? Or do you just wait to get a box after the message and not waste the space in the back of the Sprinter?
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Old 08-11-2015, 04:48 PM   #14
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Does anyone keep a box of DEF in the back of the Sprinter for that event of the DEF message? Or do you just wait to get a box after the message and not waste the space in the back of the Sprinter?
To repeat: You have AT LEAST !000 miles to find a truck stop or a Walmart or a convenience store or an auto parts store. Carrying it would make about as much sense as carrying diesel fuel.

Note also that DEF has a limited shelf life, so keeping an "emergency" stash isn't a good idea, either.

Wait for the first warning and refill it at the next convenient opportunity. Otherwise, just relax.
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