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The good, the bad, the diesel

Okay, I have done a bit of research and found many argument for getting a diesel car over a gas car if you can afford the up-front cost, but these arguments come from “experts”. I want to hear what people who have owned diesel have to say about owning it. What was maintenance like, what were unforeseen troubles, what you liked the most and the least about it, did it feel worth it in the end, etc. Please mention what your experience was and when as I know the technology has changed so when you had a diesel car could provide a different experience from other people.

My experience with diesel is that when I stop at the gas station at a gas-only pump it’s clean, neat, and doesn;y smell. When I stop at a pump island that also offers diesel, the diesel pump and the ground around it are full of grime and filth and they snell horribly.

Gas dissipates much more completely and more readily than diesel. Disel stink and leaves behind filth.

@Trickster - given your other question, you need to be more specific. Are you talking about a brand new diesel car, or an old one? Very different.

Actually info on both new and old diesel cars would be beneficial. Just mention which one you are talking about. i.e. I had an 82 Mercedes and I loved/hated it because… or I have a 2005 VW jetta and I love/hate it because…
Thanks

My wife has a 2011 diesel BMW X5. As for the advantages, it accelerates very strongly at passing speeds, thanks to all the torque, so it’s enjoyable to drive, especially on hilly two-lane roads. On highway trips, the gas mileage is close to 30 MPG and the range is close to 600 miles, so that’s convenient.

As for the disadvantages, occasionally it’s a bit more work to track down a station with diesel (and auto-diesel-sized nozzles), although using GasBuddy helps there. The pump handles are usually dirty, so I keep disposable plastic gloves in the car. There’s a bit of diesel clatter at idle, mostly noticeable only from outside the car. By the way, there’s no bad smell, if you’re wondering about that.

Overall we’re very happy with it. My wife has also met many interesting people when they rush over to try to stop her from putting diesel into what they assume is a gasoline car! (Interestingly, they never do that to me.)

I will talk in terms of compact cars. I still have my later 1980s non-turbo VW diesel. It is my second diesel car; have owned one since 1981 and I completely enjoy driving it but will not buy a modern diesel when mine is finished. Mine normally gets 50 mpg if not driven aggressively. We use it as a daily driver errand runner and for occasional 100 mile trips but have two much newer gasoline cars, one a mid size for longer trips and formal occasions. Gasoline compacts can get almost the same fuel mileage (around 40 mpg) as a modern turbodiesel compact. In addition, modern VW diesels need special expensive engine oil and also $25-30 part cost fuel filter changes every 20,000 miles. Diesel fuel used to be fairly consistently lower in price than 87 octane gasoline. For a few years the comparative prices frequently alternated between each other and then for the past couple of years, diesel fuel, except for a few weeks earlier this year, has been more expensive than gasoline. Those three things do a lot to equalize the cost of driving a diesel vs gasoline compact car.

My old VW diesel has been very reliable; has never left us stranded, is easy to maintain, needs no special engine oil other than diesel oil and parts are still easily available from the internet and local car part stores.

The last old fashioned simple diesel car that VW made was a 1992.

A diesel is not necessarily more difficult to own than a gasoline car; is just a little different.

Where I live in the upper midwest, diesel fuel is commonly available.

Don’t expect to save money driving a modern turbodiesel if that is your goal.

“My wife has also met many interesting people when they rush over to try to stop her from putting diesel into what they assume is a gasoline car! (Interestingly, they never do that to me.)”

Any excuse will do to talk to a beautiful woman.

My experience with diesels concerns the mediocre pickup diesels that have been foisted on us in recent years,thankfully they have been getting better those old powerstrokes werent nothing to write home about or the early GM diesels,but the Isuzu developed Duramax seem to do pretty good as do the Case-Cummins ,Dodge engines(they were pretty good from the get go) I’ve done my homework on these things,there is nothing stellar about a diesel for automotive apps,These large displacement gas engines are a blast to drive in hilly country too,they tell me those new supercharged gas engines are no slouch either,most of the old school diesels I’ve been around have been pretty messy(I’m not even going into the back and forth Ford and Navistar had going on for a long time)If you are going to save money in a car or pickup truck with a diesel engine,you had better hope if you have any breakdowns they are covered by warrenty,but all that aside there is just no substitute for diesels in certain applications.Buy clean fuel and keep your filters clean-Kevin

Here’s my comment to Trickster in an earlier post: “Oh gee, forget the diesels from that era. You will be much better off with like a late 80’s or early 90’s GM with a 4 speed Auto and fuel injection, like a 3800 engine. You’ll get close to 30 MPG on the highway and fewer problems. I bought a diesel Olds brand spanking new and put close to 500K on it before I either had to shoot it or me. I can’t recall how many $500 injector pumps I put on it, and at least several head gasket jobs at over $1000 each, and two engine replacements at $2500 and $1200, and on and on and on. I wanted to get the $800 extra that I paid for the diesel out of it and ended up costing me many times that. About the best mileage I got was in the mid 20’s. In the end I got $200 for it with new tires, and the rest of it looking brand new.”

I paid $10,000 for it and two years later they offered me $3000 on a trade. I should have taken it and would have been money ahead. No more diesels for me thank you.

I had a VW Golf diesel. It was a very nice car. I now have a 2002 New Beetle TDI (Turbo Diesel Injection. Also a very nice car. I would buy either car if I had it to do over.

If you are going to buy one, buy a new one with a factory warranty… A used one “That’s just broken in” at 100K miles can present you with staggering repair bills and very limited repair options…

I guess the question I would ask is if you can get 3-500K on a standard gas like a GM 3800 and get 30 MPG, how much better would a diesel be for longevity than that and what do you really gain cost wise with the additional mileage? To me the scales just aren’t tipped in the right direction. Now in Germany gas is $13 and Turkey $11. That gets closer to a pay off but still don’t see tons of diesel cars. How’s that for a run on sentence?

From JosephEMeehan Quote: “I had a VW Golf diesel. It was a very nice car. I now have a 2002 New Beetle TDI (Turbo Diesel Injection. Also a very nice car. I would buy either car if I had it to do over.” Unquote

Please provide an explanation of why you would do this. That you would do it means nothing to those seeking reasons including myself.

30 MPG. in a 3800 GM gas engine? Yeah…Maybe if you’re driving 55 MPH on level highway with no headwind. In a car with a very low drag coefficient. In city driving you’d be lucky to get 17 MPG out of one of those things. Diesels, all other things being equal, will use quite a bit less fuel under low-power conditions than a gas engine will, and some of the newer turbocharged models run very nice. LOTS of torque!

Lesabres were rated 27 mpg highway. Some folks reported 30-31 mpg at the epa web site.

“I had a VW Golf diesel. It was a very nice car. I now have a 2002 New Beetle TDI (Turbo Diesel Injection. Also a very nice car. I would buy either car if I had it to do over.” Unquote

Please provide an explanation of why you would do this. That you would do it means nothing to those seeking reasons including myself.

I would buy either of those two cars again means just that either of those cars filled my needs for a car.  Those specific reasons include:

*High mileage 
* Reliability
* Reasonable or better comfort for two people
* A different/fun personality
* Reliability (in my hands)  I have had other VW's including A Rabbit. 
* Reliability in various conditions including -24F or 100+ in the desert 

I have to admit that a lot of the reliability has more to do to the care and maintenance I do to my cars than the cars design.

The LeSabres with the 3800 did get 27-30 MPG on the highway, and they ran very well (although they handled like crap). If you drive exclusively on the interstate, that’s great! In the city, especially here in Pittsburgh with all the hills, 16-17 MPG is much more realistic.

There are tons of diesels in all of Western Europe, including Germany. Diesels have made up over 50% of sales there in recent years. They aren’t noticeable because they don’t look, sound, or smell significantly different in operation. Sorry I can’t help the OP with firsthand experience.

They aren’t noticeable because they don’t look, sound, or smell significantly different in operation.

I would guess that few people who have been in one or another of my diesels I have had, ever knew it was a diesel.

Other than filling up at a different pump, there is really little difference between gas or diesel.

Back when I had my garage open I had a sign that told customers that we don’t work on diesels, simplly because any time a diesel is broght to an independent shop is when it’s on its last legs. Most garages, mine included don’t have the equipment for diesel maintenance except routine filter changes and such. Even the elec system is different and complicated. They are not worth the time and aggravation. Rail adjustments and such is too complicated to spent time on.
LEE