The Real Deal: Why Using Genuine AdBlue™ is Essential for Your Diesel Vehicles

Thu, Oct 3, 2019

With AdBlue® being another cost associated with running a fleet, and fleet managers under continuous pressure to reduce their outlays, we have seen temptation arise in the haulage industry to cut corners when it comes to using the fluid and lets just say it doesn’t end well!

AdBlue Tank

In this article we explain the pitfalls of cutting these corners and the importance of both using and buying REAL AdBlue®.

The rise of the emulator, the fall of the transport manager!

An emulator

When a vehicle has run out of AdBlue® it goes into what we in the industry call “limp mode”, where the engine performance is reduced to limit emissions, forcing vehicle operators to refill. This has given rise to the introduction and illegal use of “emulators”; an electronic device that fools the system into thinking that the AdBlue® tank is full, allowing the vehicle to run as normal without it.

After finding widespread use of such devices, the DVSA have now announced a real crack down on haulage companies found with these installed on their vehicles. In this precedent setting case where around 15 vehicles were fitted with an emulator, the director was disqualified as acting as a Transport Manager and the company’s operator licence was suspended for 5 years.

This single example demonstrates how attempting to illegally save a few £’s is just in no way worth putting your company’s operation, job and future career at risk.

Beware! Not all urea solutions are AdBlue®

To capitalise on fleet managers seeking to cut costs, some companies have popped up selling cheap, inferior products, trying to pass them off as AdBlue®. At worse, there’s even been cases of farmers trying to make their own out of pig urine!

It is pretty much impossible to make homemade fluid to the quality standards your vehicles’ SCR system needs to function properly. For a start, whilst the chemical urea is found in animal and human urine (alongside many other elements), it is in much lower concentrations and is definitely not the high purity, chemically produced fluid your system needs.

AdBlue® is a registered trademark of the Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA), the German Association of the Automotive Industry, for a fluid made with 32.5% urea and 67.5% deionized water. Only diesel exhaust fluid produced to ISO 22241 standards under extremely pure, clinical conditions can be VDA accredited and legally advertised as AdBlue®.

To meet the standards, AdBlue® must also be stored and sold in clean, properly sealed containers, made of materials that will not corrode when in contact with the fluid such as stainless steel and polypropylene, to protect against contamination of the fluid – something which is not guaranteed when buying a cut-price fluid.

The dangers of buying cheap, non-accredited “AdBlue®”


We see the temptation in finding a cheaper solution online – you can save the company a quick buck and think: “What can be that different in the fluid? It’s probably just a brand name?” Wrong! Unfortunately, you’ll only ever be a short-term hero. In the end, buying a cheaper fluid costs the company more than buying the real deal in the first place. And here’s why…

  • A vehicle’s SCR system is extremely sensitive to any impurities in the urea solution; with even the smallest quantities capable of severely damaging it. In order to be VDA accredited, AdBlue® has had to have been manufactured and stored in extremely pure conditions to prevent any contamination. Non-accredited fluid however has not been approved as following these standards, leaving you at risk of £0000s of damage to the SCR and the costly downtime that goes with your vehicle being off the road.
  • Most vehicle and equipment manufacturers do not support warranty claims if non-licenced diesel exhaust fluid is used. An invalidated warranty, combined with the fact that your vehicle is much more likely to have a problem when cheap, non-pure fluid is used, means you’re going to be left with a hefty bill at the end!
  • Non-accredited fluids are often not as concentrated as AdBlue® to allow for the reduction in price. Diluted solutions increase consumption rates, meaning you need to buy the fluid more regularly, making it more expensive in the long run.
  • Fleet managers knowingly using an inferior product that doesn’t adhere to ISO 22241 are also in breach of emission legislations, leading to potential fines and reputation damage!

3 top tips to make sure you’re buying the real deal!

Of course there’s always the chance you may not intentionally be buying a cheap AdBlue® alternative, but have unfortunately been a victim of the supplier trying to pass off their product as the real thing. To help you tell the real from the fake, here’s our top tips:

  1. Look out for “Urea Solution” or similar names. This is some suppliers’ way of getting around not being able to legally call their product AdBlue®.
  2. Check the packaging for mention that it is produced in accordance with ISO 22241. A traceable batch number will also be present if it is the genuine AdBlue® product.
  3. A reputable supplier will happily provide a copy of their VDA certificate – usually these will be downloadable from their website. Alternatively, you can always check the VDA’s database of brands and licensees here.

If you’re responsible for the AdBlue® on site, make sure you’re buying the real deal to avoid downtime, invalid warranties and potential emission regulation breaches. If the price seems too good to be true, it almost always is…

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