Bad DPFE Sensor Symptoms, Causes, and How to Replace It

The DPFE sensor stands for Differential Pressure Feedback EGR sensor. It is most commonly used to measure the pressure of the exhaust gases flowing through the EGR system. When the DPFE sensor goes bad, it produces different signs. This article explains the bad DPFE sensor symptoms, causes, and how to test it.

What is the function of the DPFE Sensor?

The DPFE sensor plays a crucial role in the vehicle’s engine control module (ECM) by providing essential information about the exhaust gases flow through the EGR system. By accurately measuring the quantity of exhaust gas, the ECM can effectively regulate the EGR valve and enhance engine performance while minimizing emissions.

DPFE Sensor

The EGR system of your vehicle works by reintroducing exhaust gas back into the engine, allowing it to be burned again. This latest technology greatly assists in reducing exhaust emissions emitted by the engine.  

As the exhaust gas enters the EGR tube, the two tubes connected to the DPFE sensor become pressurized. By analyzing the pressure difference between these tubes, the DPFE sensor measures the amount of exhaust gases passing through the system. The sensor then relays this data to the ECM, enabling precise control of the EGR actuator and ensuring the correct amount of gas is permitted.

The DPFE sensor is commonly found in Ford engines such as the Ford Ranger, Focus, Escape, Taurus, Expedition, and various other Ford models. Additionally, it may also be present in some Lincoln vehicles. 

Symptoms of a Bad DPFE Sensor

When the DPFE sensor goes bad, it produces one or more of the below-given symptoms:

  • Illuminated Check Engine Light
  • Rough Idle
  • Failed Emissions Tests
  • Poor Engine Performance
  • Poor Fuel Economy

1) Illuminated Check Engine Light

Check engine light

One of the initial symptoms of a bad DPFE sensor is the illumination of the check engine light. When the engine control module (ECM) of a vehicle finds an issue with the DPFE sensor, it may also trigger an error code. This code can be retrieved using an OBD-II scanner and may assist in narrowing down the specific issues.

Read More: Check Engine Light Illumination Causes

2) Rough Idle

Rough Idle

The rough idle is also one of the common signs of a faulty DPFE sensor.

As we discussed above, this sensor is responsible for monitoring the pressure difference between the exhaust gas entering and exiting the EGR system. If this pressure difference becomes excessively high, it may result in an engine running unevenly and exhibiting rough idling.

3) Failed Emissions Tests

The DPFE sensor plays a crucial role in the proper functioning of the EGR system. As your vehicle’s EGR system fails to operate correctly, it may result in a vehicle failing an emissions test.

Failed Emission Test

Emissions tests are mandated by state laws and are often compulsory for vehicle registration. Failing to pass these tests may lead to legal driving difficulties and contribute to increased pollution in the atmosphere.

4) Poor Engine Performance

A faulty DPFE sensor disrupts the engine’s optimal operation, resulting in noticeable engine performance problems. These problems typically serve as the initial indication of a problem with the sensor.

Poor Engine Performance

When the sensor provides inaccurate data to the ECM, it causes dysfunction in the EGR system. As a consequence, a rough idle and reduced power output becomes noticeable symptoms.

5) Poor Fuel Economy

Bad Fuel Economy

A bad DPFE sensor may also lead to poor fuel economy. When the DPFE sensor malfunctions, it fails to accurately calculate the pressure difference between the exhaust gas entering and exiting the EGR system, leading to incorrect data being transmitted to the ECM.

As a consequence, your engine will need to exert more effort to compensate for these inaccuracies, resulting in higher fuel consumption than normal.  

Causes of Bad DPFE Sensor

  • Clogging DPFE sensor
  • Wiring issues
  • Faulty sensor failure
  • EGR system malfunction
  • Exposure to excessive moisture

DPFE Sensor Location

It’s important to note that the precise location of the DPFE sensor can vary depending on the specific make and model of your vehicle. Typically, the DPFE sensor is usually positioned in close proximity to the EGR valve. The EGR valve itself is typically located behind the upper intake manifold, which is situated between the firewall and the engine.

DPFE Sensor Location

The DPFE sensor is generally recognizable by its compact, square-shaped design. It features a wiring harness that can be seen coming from its side and two vacuum hoses connected to its bottom.

For accurate information regarding the exact location, it is advisable to refer to your vehicle’s service manual, which often includes a diagram outlining the sensor’s placement.

DPFE Sensor Replacement Cost

The replacement cost of a DPFE sensor depends on the vehicle’s make and model. The average replacement cost of the DPFE sensor is from $130 to $500. The sensor itself costs from $80 to $420, while the labor may cost from $50 to $80.

How to Replace a DPFE Sensor

  1. Engage the emergency brakes to ensure the vehicle remains stationary.
  2. For automatic transmission, set it to Park; for manual transmission, set it to Neutral.
  3. Open the hood of the vehicle.
  4. Find the DPFE sensor, typically positioned near the engine on the firewall.
  5. Disconnect the electrical wires linked to the sensor.
  6. Take away the bolts securing the sensor in its position.
  7. Carefully pull out the sensor and inspect it for any signs of damage. If damage is present, it will be necessary to change the sensor.
  8. If it appears undamaged, clean it using a specialized solution and brush. Clean the sensor by following the provided directions diligently to avoid damaging the sensor.
  9. After cleaning or replacing the sensor, reattach the electrical wires and secure the sensor in its designated position using the bolts.
  10. Clear the error codes stored in the vehicle’s ECM and take the vehicle for a test drive. This test drive will permit you to verify whether the issue is resolved or not. If the issue continues, it may be advisable to properly check your ECM for potential additional problems.

FAQ Section

Can I Replace DPFE Sensor Myself?

It is possible to change the DPFE sensor on your own, but it is vital to consider that replacing the sensor will only resolve the problem if the issue lies specifically with the sensor itself. If the issue is still there after changing the sensor, it may be necessary to properly inspect the computer system of your car for other potential problems.

How long does a DPFE Sensor last?

Typically, a DPFE sensor is designed to last the lifetime of your car. However, certain factors can contribute to a shortened service life, such as external damage and continuous exposure to extreme temperature or vibration. Common causes of DPFE sensor failure include electrical problems or a faulty filter.

How to prevent DPFE Sensor damage?

To prevent your DPFE sensor from damage, it is recommended to frequently clean the filter of your engine and don’t drive in extremely contaminated surroundings. In regions with elevated pollen levels, it is advisable to replace the vehicle’s cabin air filter more regularly. Moreover, exercise caution when conducting engine-related tasks to prevent unintentional impacts or accidental drops that could damage the sensor.

Can I drive without a DPFE Sensor?

Yes, it is technically possible to drive without a DPFE sensor, but it is not recommended. Without a functioning DPFE sensor, your car will be unable to effectively control the recirculation of exhaust gases. This may lead to poor fuel efficiency and failed emission tests. Furthermore, driving with a bad DPFE sensor may activate the check engine light. Therefore, it is advisable to replace the faulty DPFE sensor immediately if your vehicle is equipped with one.

What happens when a DPFE sensor fails?

A failed DPFE sensor may lead to different issues. One notable issue is inefficient engine operation, resulting in excessive emissions. Additionally, your car may enter a limp mode, limiting its speed to prevent engine damage. A faulty sensor may also lead to poor fuel economy and rough idle.

What does the DPFE sensor do?

The DPFE sensor of your vehicle calculates the flow of exhaust gases by the tubes connecting the EGR system and the exhaust. It achieves this by evaluating the pressure of exhaust gases before and after an orifice within the tube. By using this information, the ECM measures the EGR system flow and, when necessary, controls it using an EGR control valve. This sensor is usually employed in Ford vehicles equipped with Modular gasoline engines, specifically the 4.6 and 5.4-liter V8 engines.

How do you clear a DPF warning light?

When the DPF light illuminates, it represents a potential issue with the passive regeneration process, and active regeneration of the DPF is required. To initiate active regeneration, it is recommended to accelerate the vehicle to speeds exceeding 40 mph for a duration of 8 to 14 minutes.

Can you clean a DPFE sensor?

To clean the DPFE sensor, one way involves soaking it in a cleaning solution for a few hours. This cleaning solution may be obtained from repair stores, or you may create it at your home by combining water with a solvent or degreaser.

What would cause a DPFE sensor to melt?

It’s important to note that the increased pressure and elevated exhaust temperatures during the regeneration process can potentially cause the DPFE sensor tubes to overheat and melt. Therefore, proper care should be taken to ensure the sensor is not exposed to excessive heat or damage during operation.

Can a bad DPFE sensor cause a misfire?

No, a faulty DPFE sensor typically doesn’t directly lead to engine misfires. The DPFE sensor is responsible for measuring and providing feedback on the EGR system, which assists in reducing emissions. Misfires are generally caused by issues related to the ignition system, fuel delivery, or engine mechanical problems.

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