RV Driving Tips
- Written by Gary Lewis
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- Written by Gary Lewis
Most commercial vehicles and large diesel housecars use Air Brakes to stop. As part of the Pre-trip inspection test for a CDL, a driver must demonstrate knowledge of how an Air Brake system works and how to check it. Noncommercial Class B applicants are not required to pass this portion of the test, but all Class B Boot Camp Grads will be proficient in the Air Brake Test.
Recently while doing the pre-trip on a mobile clinic with a diesel engine I noticed something I have never seen before, an empty DEF fluid gauge. Unfortunately the drivers I was training had no idea what DEF fluid was or why it’s important, hence this explanation.
What is diesel exhaust fluid?
DEF, is an elixir that’s necessary to make sure that what exits a diesel vehicle’s tailpipe is as sweet as an Alpine breeze. The DEF fluid gauge is usually beneath the fuel gauge and in this case, shows 0. When full it would show four green bars.
DEF, is a fluid consisting of urea and deionized water in a 1:2 solution. It’s contained in a reservoir separate from the fuel tank and is metered into the engine’s exhaust stream to control certain emissions. Inside the exhaust pipe, the DEF vaporizes and decomposes into ammonia and carbon dioxide. Those two compounds then react with oxygen and detrimental nitrogen oxides inside the vehicle’s selective catalytic reduction (SCR) catalyst. This produces three benign tailpipe gases: nitrogen, water vapor, and carbon dioxide.
What happens if you run out of diesel exhaust fluid?
Diesel exhaust fluid is used to reduce NOx emissions. You will get a lot of warnings to refill the DEF tank before you run out. If you decide to ignore the warnings or the circumstances do not allow tank refill, the engine is designed to limit its power and fueling dramatically. This is a form of punishment to the driver if you like, but also it is a way of mitigating and controlling the increase of NOx emissions due to the lack of fluid.
Is it bad if I ingested DEF?
Drinking it should be avoided at all costs. If that happens, contact a doctor immediately. Also, refer to any warnings that may be present on the jug or package (if applicable).
What happens if DEF goes into my eyes?
If it gets into your eyes, flush with large amounts of water immediately for at least 15 minutes. Consult a doctor if you have any doubts or symptoms that are concerning.
What happens if I spill DEF, how do I clean it up? DEF residue can be easily cleaned up by washing the area with warm water.
Is DEF fluid corrosive?
It is corrosive to most metals used in automotive applications. Carbon steels, iron, zinc, nickel, copper, aluminum and magnesium are some of them. If it comes into contact with any metals, you should clean the area with plenty of warm water to eliminate accelerated corrosion.
Can DEF go bad?
The fluid typically has a shelf life of 18 months. It does not expire technically, but it can lose its water content and the ratio of Urea/Water could change. This will affect engine emissions, since all the calculations in the ECU expect urea to be 32.5% of the DEF solution injected.
How can I check the DEF quality?
Its quality can be easily checked using a urea refractometer (available at Amazon.com). What happens if DEF freezes? How can you keep DEF from freezing? 67.5% of DEF is water. DEF freezes at -11 C or 12.2 F. When DEF thaws and goes back to liquid form, it maintains it consistency. It is suggested that you store DEF at a temperature between 5°C and 25°C (23°F and 77°F).
How do I store DEF?
Store in sealed containers to avoid contamination and avoid direct sunlight to prevent water evaporation. How long can you store DEF? Is there a shelf life? It can be stored for 18 months at a temperature between 5°C and 25°C (23°F and 77°F). For every 5° (9°F) above the recommended temperature, shelf life is reduced by six months.
Is DEF fluid all the same?
All DEF fluids that are supposed to be used in automotive applications should meet ISO 222411-1 specifications. Assuming that all Diesel Exhaust Fluids meet the ISO specifications, they should all be the same.
- Written by The RV Guy
At our RV Boot Camp Trainings, we begin by determining what our audience knows about the operation of large vehicles. See if you need to learn more about driving your RV - test your RV knowledge.
- How wide is an Interstate freeway lane?
- In your State, what is the maximum width an RV can be?
- In your State, what is the maximum legal height a vehicle can be?
- If your motor home is over 40 feet, what do you require?
- What is the weight of your RV?
- What is the height of your RV?
- What is Off-Track?
- In your State, what is the maximum combined length of your truck and RV?
- Can you tow more than one vehicle in your State?
- When towing, what is the legal speed limit in your State?
- What is a Gator?
- What is an easy way to keep your RV centered in the lane?
- Why is it important to adjust your mirrors?
- What is the easiest way to get more miles per gallon?
- If you double your speed, your stopping distance increases by...
- If you double your weight, your stopping distance increases by...
- If you double weight and speed, stopping distance increases by...
- Name the primary braking system when descending a steep hill?
- If you're in high wind conditions, what should you do?
- If there are 3 lanes, in which lane should an RV travel?
- When stopping in urban traffic, how must space should you leave between your vehicle and the one in front of you?
- On the freeway, how far ahead should you scan the road?
- When driving on the freeway, how many seconds should there be between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you?
- At 55 MPH, how many feet will you travel in 1/2 a second?
- If your vehicle has air brakes, why is this figure important? Explain the COLA check?
If you didn't know many of the answers, you're not alone. At our RV Boot Camp Trainings, very few non-commercial drivers know the answers.