Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF) – avoiding an expensive bill

What is a Diesel particulate filter?

Diesel particulate filters or DPF’s have been fitted to many diesel vehicles exhaust systems over the last few years.  Manufacturers fit this device as part of their compliance with ‘Euro 5’  emission standards.

DPF’s act as a soot trap within the exhaust system and can reduce the vehicles emissions by up to 80%.  As you are driving around urban areas, particles of soot are trapped within the DPF, thus cutting emissions within our towns and cities.  The soot then sits within the filter waiting to be emptied.  The process of emptying the DPF is referred to as ‘regeneration’.   Regeneration of the particle filter occurs automatically when  the exhaust is hot, such as when driving on a motorway at speeds of over 50mph.  On this type of journey, the soot trapped in the DPF is burnt off leaving only a tiny amount of ash in the filter.

Urban driving and DPF’s

If you own a diesel engined car fitted with a DPF and are mainly using your vehicle for driving around town or stop-start runs, then you may run into DPF problems.  The AA advise  ‘If you’re buying a new car and plan to use it mainly for town-based, stop/start driving it would be wise to avoid a diesel car fitted with a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) because of the possible hassle of incomplete ‘DPF regeneration’.’

If you do own this type of vehicle, we would suggest you take time to schedule a monthly motorway run into your diary.  This small step can help to avoid expensive repairs down the line.  The vehicle needs to travel at a sustained speed with high revs, so a 20 mile trip travelling above 50 mph will help the DPF to regenerate.

Oh no! The DPF warning light has come on the dash.

If full regeneration of the DPF has not taken place for a while then first, the vehicles ECU will step in and try to control the problem.  If the ECU cannot force regeneration by changing the way the car runs then a dash warning light will appear.

DO NOT ignore this warning

If you have been doing regular motorway type runs and the light has appeared, it could indicate other problems with your vehicle.  You should go and check with your local mechanic for the cause of the warning light.  If the light has only just come on and you have been using the car for urban driving,  you could try going for a motorway run to clear the filter.  If successful the DPF will regenerate & the light will go off.  This should help to prevent the soot load building up again.  If the warning light remains on, get the car into your local garage to be checked out.

I ignored the light, oops

If you ignore the warning light and carry on driving around at low urban speeds then soot in the DPF will continue to build.  More warnings will probably appear on your dash and a motorway run will no longer be enough to clear the DPF.  You now need to take the vehicle into your local garage for repair.  If the DPF filter needs to be replaced this could well cost you over £1000.  In some cases, the filter can be cleaned out without needing to be replaced.  We would suggest obtaining advice from several garages, as often what one mechanic says needs replacing, the next mechanic may well be able to repair.

Back Home Performance are always happy to offer advice and give no-obligation quotations.


Impulse buying, we’re good at that!

I woke up this morning to be told it was ‘Mega Monday’.  Today was expected to be the busiest ever online shopping day in the UK.  In my head this sounded awful.  I shop online to avoid queues and to find stock in places I have no intention of driving to.  ‘Mega Monday’ sounded like a lot of hard work trying to beat other browsers to the tills.  I decided instead to go to a real shop!  Local shops are great!  We should all do more to support local business!   Impulse buy of the day, freshly made scones. Yum!

Don’t get me wrong the internet has its place.  My youngest son collects TVR toy cars and I’ve spent the last month trying to hunt down out-of production models.   Hours and hours spent trawling websites, home and abroad, trying to find any he doesn’t already own.  Why on earth are there so many TVR Tuscan toy cars and hardly any other TVR models?  Anyway, after being faced with a very limited choice, I rather impulsively spent a little too much on Santa’s behalf.  Usually I’m really good.  I say usually, there was this one time when I tracked down the wreckage of the exTVR Cerbera 4.5 press car.

TVR 100 hidingTVR 100 it looks fine!TVR100 eekTVR 100 ouch!TVR100 doesn't look too bad...TVR100 it's just a scratch


It was winter 2006.  The TVR factory was on its last legs.  We’d just taken part in a very emotional ‘TVR London Thunder’ and we we’re getting everything in place for a big party for the TVR workers, the ‘TVR Thunderball’.   I had seen some photo’s on an internet forum that my favourite ever TVR had been involved in an accident.  I had always loved this car from the first day I started work at TVR and caught a glimpse of the purple leather interior.  It sounds awful purple leather in a yellow car, but trust me it just works!  When my daughter had visited the factory, she decided it was her favourite TVR too.  The ‘egg’ between the rear seats was not for helmets!  My daughter decided this was the place your cuddly toys were supposed to sit.  I loved this car so much that when the factory sold her, Dave brought her round to say goodbye to me on her final road test as a factory owned car.

Back to 2006.  I eventually tracked the poorly Cerbera down to a place in Cheshire and rather impulsively, we decided to buy her.

The good bits about our impulse buy

We bought the car as repairable salvage.  Fortunately the damage to the Cerbera, although it looks quite bad, is mostly cosmetic.  The only structural damage is a bent upper rear suspension arm.   The beautiful purple interior remains intact and it still has its special yellow clocks & dials.

The bad bits about our impulse buy

When we made our buy, the original engine had been removed as well as all the control units.

Our progress so far

Although we’ve been really busy planning and starting our business, we have made some progress.  We have managed to source and acquire all the items on our shopping list.  Everything is ready to go!

What happens next?

Our plan is to carry out a full body-off restoration.  We’d like to strip the car down to all its basic components, every last nut and bolt.  Our aim is to rebuild this very special Cerbera to the very highest standard.  All we have to do now is find some time……

You have the “Right2Choose”


The Right to Choose Campaign (Right2Choose) is an initiative by UK independent aftermarket parts suppliers, parts distributors and repairers which aims to create greater public awareness of motorists’ rights when servicing and repairing their vehicles, and to create greater trade awareness of those rights, and the consequent responsibilities and opportunities.

Information for Consumers can be found here

As a small local Independent garage, Back Home Performance is supporting the Right2Choose campaign.

What’s included in our FREE vehicle health checks?

Want to know if your cars in good health?  At Back Home Performance we offer free vehicle health checks all year round.  Whether you want to check your cars up to surviving the cold winter weather, a pre-MOT check or simply for your own peace of mind, our free service could be just what you need.  But what exactly does it include?

Free Vehicle Health Check Schedule

Our vehicle health checks all follow the same checklist & upon completion you will be given a written copy of our findings.

We assess each vehicle using a traffic light system to rate all the elements we check.  RED – Requires urgent attention, AMBER – advisory will need attention soon, GREEN – Visually OK. 

  • Wheels & TyresWe check all wheels & tyres, incl. the spare for condition.  We check the tread depth & tyre pressure.  Each wheel is checked for any damage.  We visually check the tread of each tyre for signs of poor wheel alignment and uneven tread wear.

  • Brakes – As brakes are so important to the safety of everyone, we check all aspects of the braking system.  We check the brake discs for wear, cracks, corrosion and pitting.  The brake pads are checked for sufficient friction material and signs of contamination.  We also inspect the wheel bearings for play and noise.  Brake hoses and pipes are checked for cracking, signs of leakage and damage.  We check that flexi hoses are not fouling anywhere.  We check brake pipes are secure, not excessively corroded and that there are no leaks.  Brake cables need to be checked for fraying and corrosion.  We make sure the brake fluid level is correct.

  • Under Bonnet –  The engine oil level is checked.  It is surprising how many people are running their cars on very little oil.  The antifreeze is checked for strength.  This is very important in winter as a frozen cooling system can cause no end of damage!  A visual inspection for water, oil and fluid leaks is also carried out.  We check the alternator belt for tension and any signs of wear.  We do a battery drop test to check the battery is up to it’s job and we make sure it is fixed securely.

  • Underside – When the car is on the ramp we look underneath the car.  The exhaust system is checked for condition and that it is secure.  We check for play and damage to the steering components.  The suspension is also checked.  Whilst underneath we inspect the condition of the driveshaft gaiters.

  • Lights & Electrics – All lights, the horn, wipers & washers are tested.
  • Further checks – We visually inspect around each vehicle for damage & broken glass/plastic components.  When the vehicle is driven in and out the workshop we assess the operation of the brakes, clutch and transmission.  Any engine noise or smoke is also reported on.

This free of charge vehicle health check is available to everyone regardless of what vehicle you drive and you are under no obligation to use Back Home Performance to rectify any problems we find. As always, no work will be carried out unless you instruct us to do so.

Please telephone 01253 766085 or email blackpoolbhp@btinternet.com to book yours now.

Winter driving tips for car drivers | Sainsbury’s car insurance (sainsburysbank.co.uk)
Motorists urged to take time to check their tyres (etyres.co.uk)
Just because your tyres are not bald, does not mean they are safe (etyres.co.uk)
Worn tyres warning for drivers (confused.com)

Pre-book your TVR service now!

It’s nearly Xmas and here’s our gift to you!  Pre-book next years TVR service now and you will save a fortune and help raise funds for the BEN – Motor and Allied Trades Benevolent Fund.

tvr christmas back home performance

BEN – Motor and Allied Trades Benevolent Fund

Each year BEN, the Motor and Allied Trades Benevolent Fund helps over 15,000 people aged from 3 to over 100 years with problems ranging from physical disability, cancer, financial difficulties, drug and alcohol related problems to age associated infirmities.

This is a limited time offer!  Grab a bargain 12K Service now for only £300!  For full details click here

There really is no catch.  You will still receive the same high standard of service from us.  We will still comply with the full TVR recommended Service Schedule and all parts, fluids and labour are included.  The only exception from this deal is Tappet Adjustment.


It all started at the bus stop…

A knight with 368 black horses is always best!

After a long day of “Where’s my Speed Six engine?” type calls, the last thing you want is to be standing at the bus stop waiting for a bus that was due 20 mins ago.  Well I say that, but it’s actually not all that bad, especially when alternative transport arrives in the form of a 3 door Sierra Cosworth.  Good old Blackpool Transport!  Without their reliability, Back Home Performance may never have been born.

Dave was newish in the TVR Service Department.  I didn’t really know much of him. I liked him though as he was the bloke who ordered me a chip barm cake occasionally, he filled in his job cards properly (massive brownie points in my book) and unlike most the other lads, he didn’t poke fun at me.  Well not to my face anyway 😛  Until the bus stop I hadn’t a clue what he drove.  Needless to say I was instantly impressed!

Dave bought ‘ELF’ for £7000 in 1996, just six weeks after he started work at TVR.  The car was completely standard spec when he took delivery and on a rolling road test produced 218 bhp.  This was still enough to make Dave question what he’d just traded his Mark I Escort in for.  As he left the showroom the car was sideways after the first corner.

Castle Combe Track Day

The first work to be carried out was changing the head gasket to a group A gasket and the chip was replaced with a stage 1 chip to produce 270bhp.  Unfortunately, on a track day at Castle Combe, the engine bottom end went.  The number 4 big end bearing picked up on the crank resulting in Dave needing to carry out a full engine rebuild.

Whilst rebuilding the engine, Dave overbored the engine block and replaced the original pistons with 4×4 pistons.  This cured the pistonslap which all 2 wheel drive Cosworths suffer from.  This then lowered the compression ratio which allowed it to run with higher boost.  The valve guides were replaced, along with some of the valves. After a running-in period, the chip was replaced with the fitting of dark green injectors and a 3 bar map sensor.  ‘ELF’ was getting quicker!

In between the regular track days, RS Owners Club meetings and events, Dave was kept busy making more and more improvements to the car.

RS Owners Club meeting

Improvements & Upgrades

Over the following couple of years, Dave upgraded the stereo system, including base sub, 20cm rear speakers, uprated dash speakers, amplifier, head unit, 6 disc changer and graphic equalizer.  Carbon fibre panels were custom-made by Trevor at TVR.  The panels were used to fit the graphic equalizer, oil pressure gauge and boost gauge to the dash.  The front light units and indicator lenses were replaced with new.  Dave acquired a tatty looking replacement front bumper, which thanks to our friends in the TVR paint shop, was resprayed to look as good as new!  RS500 front splitters were also fitted.  Both of the Recaro front seats were replaced along with the dash top that had cracked.

Under the bonnet, Dave fitted a strut brace, to restrict the inner wing movement that occurs under load.  An aluminium header tank replaced the original plastic tank which were known for cracking when old.  An aluminium swirl pot was introduced to cut the hot spots that occur when the engine is hot along with silicone hoses to the cooling system and air intake.  An RS 500 intercooler replaced the original intercooler.

ELF looking mighty fine!

All this cosmetic improvement was fine but the handling could be better.  Koni adjustable shock absorbers with uprated and lowered springs were fitted.  This added to the new AP 4 pot calipers, 325 mm front discs, new 4×4 rear discs, rear calipers and 17 inch wheels meant ‘Elf’ was looking and feeling mighty fine!

Time to hit the track and enjoy!

Engine rebuild Mark II

All was going quite well for a while, apart from the clutch was starting to slip a bit.  Dave was on the way to work at TVR, possibly a little too enthusiastically, when the centre shaft in the turbo snapped.  A huge cloud of oil smoke came out of the exhaust and there was suddenly no boost.  With all the work required to repair the car, Dave thought that is was a good time to carry out some further upgrades to the Sierra.

Once the engine had been removed, the engine bay was re-painted.  The cylinder head was removed to be replaced with a ported RS 500 cylinder head allowing for more air to enter the engine.  The cams were also swapped for higher performance BD10 cams with vernier pulleys.  The destroyed turbo was replaced with a hybrid T34 turbo.  This was used because it has a larger intake housing for increased boost.  The T34’s smaller exhaust housing also means less turbo-lag.  The clutch was changed for a Borg&Beck heavy duty clutch.  The flywheel was also replaced.

Time to say goodbye

Over the 6+ years of ownership it’s hard to say just how much money we spent on this Sierra 3dr Cosworth.  Even before the second engine rebuild, Dave had stopped counting at £20,000.  Was it worth it?  Hell yes!  The car had gone from producing 218bhp to 368bhp and a big improvement in torque!  Dave says it was great fun owning & driving this car.  He drove all over the country, meeting lots of different people and heads always turned wherever we went.  I miss the dump valve sound effects and the spitting of flames from the exhaust.  I don’t miss the polishing that happened as soon as we arrived at an event (and I only did this once).

We sold the car in 2003.

Dave Bradley Sierra Cosworth

Sad to see the back of this labour of love