Concerned about diesel exhaust fluid?

These guidelines for managing DEF can relieve worries


There are a few simple steps that can be taken to ensure you’re not over-spending on diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), buying low-quality product, or ruining the DEF you’ve purchased.

One of the easiest ways to ensure you’re not spending more than you have to on DEF is to make sure the amount of DEF you’re buying is aligned with the size and consumption patterns of your fleet.

DEF is available in volumes ranging from small 2.5-gallon containers to 2,000-gallon mini bulk containers and beyond. As such, it’s important to determine the number of SCR-equipped vehicles in your fleet and the amount of DEF those vehicles consume per week.

For example, small fleets, with one to four vehicles and typically using 15 to 30 gallons of DEF per week, should try purchasing 55-gallon drums of DEF for the best savings.

A manager overseeing five to nine SCR vehicles or a fleet consuming 60 to 90 gallons per week should consider purchasing DEF in 275- to 330-gallon intermediate bulk containers.

Moreover, fleets with 26 to 50 vehicles, or fleets using 300 to 600 gallons of DEF per week, ought to consider having DEF delivered in bulk. In this case, utilizing mini-bulk or other storage units with a DEF storage capacity of 2,000 or 3,000 gallons will help maximize cost efficiencies.

Your purchasing needs will likely change over time as your fleet continues to replace older vehicles with new SCR-equipped trucks.

As your fleet grows, working with a DEF specialist can help your fleet make the move to bulk as seamless as possible, with affordable and innovative equipment solutions.

Choose Quality

Another simple but often overlooked method of getting the most out of your DEF purchases is to make sure you’re buying quality DEF. DEF is a product that needs to be in its purest form to protect your engines’ catalysts.

Therefore, it’s important to use only ISO 22241-certified DEF, not just any urea solution. Even small amounts of impurities in DEF may progressively damage an engine’s dosing and catalyst systems.

Worse yet, certain contaminants may cause catalyst deactivation, which may have a negative impact on an engine’s performance.

In addition, with the U.S. DEF market expected to increase 30-fold by 2015, according to market research firm Integer Research, many fleet operators can be concerned about running out of DEF. This can put a damper on a fleet’s ability to operate, not to mention impact its bottom line.

Make sure you have a DEF supplier who can supplement domestic production with international production. The U.S. is an import market for urea, the base for DEF production, so a supplier with a strong import platform will be better positioned to ensure you don’t experience a shortage as a result of a natural disaster or local demand spike.

Further, using a fuel and lubricant distributor in the U.S. who has a vast delivery network will also help ensure you get DEF when and where you need it.

Educate your Team

Teaching your employees how to handle DEF will not only help you get the most out of your DEF, it will also help protect your biggest investment.

Based on what we’ve seen in Europe, we know that 80 percent of contamination happens at fleet terminals.

To safeguard against DEF contamination at your terminal, which can lead to vehicle downtime, make sure everyone who uses or handles DEF in your fleet follows these seven guidelines:

  • Keep DEF away from materials such as fuel, oil, grease, water, dust, dirt, metal and detergent, as these items will contaminate DEF.
  • If the DEF fueling equipment at your terminal needs to be cleaned, rinse it with de-mineralized water – not tap water.
  • Only use dedicated DEF equipment for storing and dispensing DEF. Do not use funnels or bottles that have been used for other fluids.
  • While a DEF pump’s magnetic guard will prevent you from accidentally putting DEF into the wrong tank, be sure to insert the DEF nozzle into the truck’s DEF inlet to avoid contaminating the spout.
  • Store DEF below 86 degrees F to maintain its optimal shelf life.
  • Do not store DEF in direct sunlight.
  • Do not refill previously used DEF containers, as they may be contaminated.
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