AdBlue: where to buy, how to top up and what to look for? All information!

To the Reduce the content of nitrogen oxides in the exhaust gas by around 80 to 90 percent, will most modern diesel vehicles AdBlue injected into the exhaust system. The cars have an extra tank for this urea solution, which is usually refilled during the inspection. But the AdBlue– Consumption strongly depends on the driving style – and so it can happen that the messages “AdBlue empty “or”AdBlue refill “light up earlier. If you ignore these messages, the car will no longer start at some point. AUTO BILD explains what to do when your car AdBlue demands, and what to look for when dealing with AdBlue should pay attention.

What is AdBlue anyway?

AdBlue is a brand name of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) and denotes a solution made from urea and demineralized water. The industrial name of this ISO standardized solution is AUS 32. AUS stands for “aqueous urea solution”, 32 stands for the urea content (32.5 percent).

What is AdBlue needed for?

Because emissions standards are becoming stricter, car manufacturers are being forced to reduce their vehicles’ nitrogen oxide emissions. An important step in this development was the introduction of the Euro 6 standard, which has been in force for all type approvals since September 2014 and for all new approvals since September 2015. It prescribes a limit value of a maximum of 80 grams of NOx per 100 kilometers for diesel cars, which can hardly be adhered to without exhaust gas aftertreatment. In addition, modern engines emit a particularly large amount of nitrogen oxide. They are trimmed for efficiency and should use as little fuel as possible. In order to achieve this, the combustion is significantly “leaner” and warmer, so the following applies: the better the combustion, the higher the temperature and the greater the NOx formation. One solution to still comply with the EU limit values ​​is the so-called SCR-Katwhich has been used in commercial vehicles for a significantly longer period of time. So that the exhaust gas cleaning works in the SCR-Kat, AdBlue needed.

How does exhaust aftertreatment work with AdBlue?

AdBlue is injected into the exhaust system via a metering pump. The amount depends on the speed and vehicle load. A chemical reaction then takes place in the catalytic converter. The exhaustAdBlue-Mixture is heated, releasing ammonia. The ammonia reacts with the nitrogen oxides and converts them into harmless nitrogen and water vapor.

When do I have to top up AdBlue?

If the AdBlueWhen the supply is running low, the car sends a warning on the display in good time and shows how many kilometers the urea will last. The remaining range is usually generous and is usually more than 2000 kilometers. The warning must not be ignored, however, because once the AdBlue-Tank is empty, the car switches to the emergency program. He then no longer performs at full capacity. If the car is out, it jumps without it AdBlue no longer on. Technically everything is fine, but it works without it AdBlue the exhaust aftertreatment does not comply with regulations.

How is the AdBlue tank topped up?

Practical test of pollutants - AdBlue in the car

In older cars like this Passat, built in 2009, the filler neck is still in the trunk.

Mostly located a second opening next to the regular tank filler neck for the AdBlue-Tank. Older diesels, for which exhaust aftertreatment was not at the top of the specification sheet, are either “refueled” through an opening in the trunk floor or in the engine compartment. If in doubt, take a look at the operating instructions. Some gas stations now offer special AdBlue-Fuel pumps for cars. Here, the urea can simply be refueled like regular fuel. Apps like “Find AdBlue” can help find these gas stations. But be careful: it mustn’t AdBlue be filled into the fuel tank. If it does happen accidentally, the consequences are similar to those of a misfuelling with petrol. Therefore: Do not start the car and notify the workshop.
Some drivers try theirs AdBlue-Filling the tank at the truck petrol pumps – but this is not advisable in several respects. There is a magnet on the filler neck of the truck tank so that the nozzle switches off when the tank is full. This magnet does not exist in cars – the tank can overflow. Meanwhile there are AdBlue-Buy adapters for cars, which should solve this problem, but the small tanks of the cars are not adapted to the flow rate of the car AdBlue designed for trucks. Even if you refuel very carefully, the refueling process at the truck pump often ends in a mess. As an alternative to the petrol pump, you get AdBlue also in canisters in stores (e.g. in hardware stores) or online. It is essential to ensure that a suitable filler neck or funnel is included. The urea is then simply tipped from the canister directly into the tank.

Why is AdBlue running out right now?

Ammonia is required for the production of urea, and natural gas for the production of ammonia. Since the price of natural gas is currently at a record level, ammonia manufacturers have significantly reduced their production volumes. This leads to the current supply bottlenecks for AdBlue.

What does AdBlue cost, are there cheaper alternatives?

The prices of AdBlue vary greatly. One liter costs at the pump AdBlue currently between 89 and 99 cents (Daily price from January 10, 2022, requested via On internet portals like Amazon you can currently order a ten-liter canister from 16.50 euros. That corresponds to a liter price of 1.65 euros. This also roughly corresponds to the prices in hardware stores. Usually canisters with a capacity of five, ten or 20 liters are offered. The capacity of a AdBlue-Tanks is between eight and 22 liters, depending on the vehicle.
From time to time, cheaper alternative products appear on the market, which are simply referred to as “urea solution”. But the rule here is: hands off! AdBlue is protected by the VDA (Association of the Automotive Industry). Only for products with the official one AdBlueLettering ensures that they comply with the ISO 22241/1 and DIN 70070 standards. Anyone who allegedly wants to save money here by using cheaper, non-certified substitutes, risks damage to the catalytic converter and possibly also to the control unit and loses his warranty claims. For the same reason, you should not try to make AdBlue yourself.

How much AdBlue do cars use?

That depends entirely on the car and ultimately also on the driving style. Most cars use 1 to 1.5 liters AdBlue on 1000 kilometers. The AUTO BILD long-term tester Mercedes E 220 d T-model was satisfied with 1.5 liters of urea over 1000 kilometers. The Seat Alhambra also complained about an empty one about every 11,000 kilometers AdBlue-Tank (approx. 1.5 liters / 1000 kilometers). The Audi A6 Avant treated itself to an average of less than one liter per 1000 kilometers.

Is AdBlue harmful?

For man is AdBlue non-toxic. However, on contact, the urea can irritate the eyes, respiratory tract and skin. So he should quickly rinsed off with water. The same is true if something AdBlue comes onto the paintwork or plastic parts of the car: after a long time it can AdBlue damage these parts, so it is best to wash them off directly with water.

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