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A guide to AdBlue

A guide to AdBlue

Over the years, significant efforts have been made to introduce stricter emission regulations throughout the car industry, in a bid to improve air quality and to decrease pollution levels.

One of the technologies used to reduce harmful emissions is a technique known as selective catalytic reduction (SCR), a solution used to remove harmful pollutants.

Also known as AdBlue, this fluid can only be used by diesel powered cars or vans fitted with SCR. However, an increasing number of car manufacturers are now recognising the many benefits that come hand in hand with AdBlue and factoring this into the design of the vehicle.

Let's look at AdBlue in more detail, including which vehicle owners should be using it and how often.

What is AdBlue?

AdBlue is a liquid solution that has been formulated to successfully treat exhaust gases and remove harmful pollutants such as NOx and NO2. Unlike petrol and diesel, which are injected into the engine, AdBlue is stored in a tank and then fed into the vehicle's exhaust.

Working on a metered system that has been pre-set by your vehicle's manufacturer, AdBlue (a liquid solution of urea) releases ammonia when it comes into contact with a hot exhaust system and converts dangerous nitrogen oxides into water vapour and nitrogen, which are harmless.

AdBlue was developed to help minimise harmful emissions from diesel engines so that they meet official emissions regulations, which have become more stringent in recent years.

Which type of cars use AdBlue?

Not every car is able to use AdBlue, just yet. It is mainly used in large diesel vehicles due to the size of the system. Many heavy goods vehicles, such as buses, lorries, trucks, commercial vehicles and coaches, also use AdBlue and have done since 2004.

However, this is not to say that smaller diesel cars without SCR won't be able to use AdBlue in the future.

How to use AdBlue

One of the main benefits of AdBlue is that your vehicle will monitor consumption automatically and let you know when your AdBlue levels drop and need topping up. Don't ignore your AdBlue alert - failing to act on these warnings will ultimately result in your vehicle refusing to start until the AdBlue tank is filled.


An increasing number of service stations now have AdBlue dispensing pumps and many dealerships are also happy to dispense AdBlue when needed, at a cost. You can buy portable containers of AdBlue from service stations, starting from £5 per 4.7 litre container.

How do I refill AdBlue and how often?

When AdBlue was first introduced, it was designed to be a dealer service item, meaning motorists wouldn't have to worry about topping up until they had their yearly service. However, with the vast majority of motorists now travelling more than 10,000 miles per year, motorists need to be able to top up as and when required.

How frequently you will need to top up will depend on the size of your tank, as this can vary from five to 20 litres. AdBlue will need topping up every 600 miles or so and remember - failure to respond to these warnings will result in your vehicle refusing to start.

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