The Benefits of Diesel Cars

January 27, 2012

There are many benefits to diesel cars. Diesel engines were once only found as trucks, but today many passenger vehicles are being manufactured that run on diesel. These vehicles produce lower emissions, have less of a fire risk in accidents, provide more torque, have lower associated taxes and diesel engine performance is better than gasoline performance. Current diesel engines are much quieter, cleaner, and smoother than the original versions.

  • Better fuel economy.Diesel cars have much better fuel economy than gasoline vehicles. This is because diesel engines generate more power out of less fuel due to the higher compression rate. This produces more horsepower per liter of fuel. By adding a high pressure injection system it is possible to get even better fuel economy. A turbocharger can also improve the performance and fuel economy
  • Lower emissions.Because of the type of compression and air to fuel ratios, a diesel car produces fewer emissions. This is mainly due to the fact that diesel is burned in excess air. With proper tuning of the ignition and using new filters, these are some of the lowest emission vehicles that still use an oil based fuel
  • Lower taxes.Because of how the road tax laws have changed, a diesel vehicle has a lower road tax than gasoline vehicles. The tax is based on the CO2 emissions of a vehicle. Because diesel has lower emissions, it will have lower taxes
  • Lower maintenance.Diesel engines work differently from gasoline engines, are easier to maintain and have a longer lifespan. The main difference is the lack of an electronic fuel ignition system. The absence of this system reduces repair costs, eliminates any possible electrical failures, and produces a very reliable engine. The time between required maintenance services is also much longer
  • Lower fire hazard.The chance of the fuel igniting when an accident occurs is very low with diesel because diesel is not ignited by a spark. Diesel ignites when it hits hot compressed air
  • Greater torque.The design of the diesel engine produces greater torque than other engines. Most drivers are focused on horsepower, but torque relates to the ability to pull loads and accelerate. Therefore, diesel torque can easily overcome other vehicles and also have a lot of power for low to mid RPM
  • Addtional tax incentives. The government offers tax credits for clean diesel vehicles. These can be as much as a $1,300 credit on income taxes. The amount depends on the make and model of the vehicle. There are some regulations and guidelines to the credit, for instance it only applies to a new vehicle. The credit is based around the date of purchase and there are other guidelines that apply as well

Turbo Diesel Car Pros and Cons

Turbo diesel cars share most of the benefits and drawbacks of regular diesel cars. In the past, turbo diesels were loud, polluting, dirty vehicles that did not have a great reputation. Today, these engines emit much less pollution, have more power, and do not announce produce the rumbling sound of the older generation diesel engines. When looking at a new car, a turbo diesel engine might be just what you need. Here are a few pros and cons of owning a car with a turbo diesel.


  • Better fuel economy.Probably the biggest advantage of owning a turbo diesel vehicle is the fuel consumption. You will get approximately 20 to 30 percent better fuel economy over a regular gas engine. This percentage makes a big difference and adds up to big savings. You do not have to run to the pumps as often. Even where the price of diesel fuel is the same as, or in some cases, more than regular gas, the savings are still there
  • Power to spare.People like to have vehicles that are big enough, and strong enough, to be able to haul trailers, campers, or other tow behinds. Today's new diesel engines have a lot of power that can haul large loads, while not using as much fuel as a gas powered engine would under that heavy strain
  • Better value retention. When you buy a vehicle with a turbo diesel engine, the depreciation is much less than a gas powered vehicle. One of the biggest cons against any vehicle is that you instantly lose money on it after you buy it. This depreciation rate is different for all vehicles and can be hundreds of dollars a year, to thousands of dollars per year. If you hold onto your car for at least three years, you will see that the turbo diesel will be sold more up to $500 to $800 more than the same model that has a gasoline engine


  • Higher unit cost.A turbo auto that runs diesel fuel is that they will cost a little more at the dealership. For example, a Jetta TDI starts out at around $20,000. A normal Jetta with a gas fueled engine is approximately $1,500 less. However, the savings you receive by not having to fill up the tank as much will eventually pay for the $1,500 you paid for the turbo. After that, you will begin to see more savings
  • Higher maintenance costs.Having a turbo diesel engine does mean that your diesel auto services will cost you a little more because of the specialized parts. The newer TDI engines from Audi, Volkswagen, and Mercedes are highly engineered and require special parts and training
  • Sluggish performance in cold climates. During frigid weather, diesel engines have a propensity towards gelling up. To fight this, many people who have diesel engines must have an engine block heater installed or keep their vehicle running during colder weather. If you live in a warmer area, where freezing is not an issue, your diesel auto will be more fuel efficient

A Mileage Comparison

Diesel engines provide not only better power, usually in the form of a V6 engine, but also more torque, which allows for quicker acceleration. Diesel cars are more popular in Europe than in the United States, as not all states have passed diesel cars due to their rigorous emission standards. The big reason to buy diesel cars is their fuel economy, which is typically 35 percent more than gasoline engines.

VW Diesel MPG
Volkswagen has a fleet of diesel cars that all get great mileage, and also don't cost that much to buy. There are four diesel models, the Jetta TDI (Turbocharged Direct Injection), Jetta SportsWagen, Golf and the Touareg SUV model. The automatic versions are usually just a slight bit higher than the manual transmissions. The Golf, SportsWagen and Jetta TDI are the tops in the diesel class, coming in at 42 miles per gallon on the highway, and 30 miles per gallon in the city. The manual transmission models get the same ratings in the city, but one mile less per gallon on the highway. The Touareg has great fuel mileage for its class. It can get 25 miles per gallon on the highway, and 18 miles per gallon in the city. It is tied with other diesel SUV's, such as Mercedes and BMW comparable models that get around the same ratings.

Audi MPG
Audi also has a line of diesel cars. The Audi A3 wagon is their most fuel efficient model. It is tied with some of the Volkswagens, coming in at 42 miles per gallon on the highway and 30 miles per gallon in the city. The Q7 SUV also comes with a diesel engine and gets 25 miles per gallon on the highway, and 17 miles per gallon in the city.

BMW, another European car maker, has a few diesel cars of their own. Their top model is the 3 Series sedan, which gets 36 miles per gallon on the highway, and 23 miles per gallon in the city. The X5 SUV gets 26 miles per gallon on the highway, and 19 miles per gallon in the city.

Mercedes MPG
The Mercedes ML350 BlueTec can get 25 miles per gallon on the highway and 18 miles per gallon in the city. The R350 gets the similar ratings, with just one mile per gallon less.

Negotiation Tips for Buying a Diesel Car

With the growing popularity of diesel cars, there are a lot of different options to choose from today. No longer is it only European vehicles or large trucks that are diesel. Here are a few tips to help you negotiate the best price when looking at diesel autos.

Define What You Want
One of the worst things you can do when walking onto a new car lot is to still have some mixed feelings about what you want. If you can be swayed by the salesperson from one vehicle to another, they have you. However, if you've done your research and know what vehicle you're looking for, you will be able to stick to your guns and show the salesperson you are not going to be easily moved or shaken.

Look at Reviews and Price Guides
One of the best tools you have is to be able to tell the salesperson about the vehicle you want to buy. Read a lot of consumer reports, car reviews and price guides. These will give you ample ammunition to take with you so you're not left in the dark about prices, value and satisfaction. You can use these things to help negotiate a better price.

Be Firm on Price
Once you know the value of a vehicle, and how well it will retain its value, you can set a fair price limit for the vehicle you want to buy. If you're looking at a Volkswagen Jetta and know that they start at $27,000, you should not be paying more than $30,000 for the car you want. Be firm in your price, but not so firm that you close off the salesperson. Let them think you're willing to talk, but will stay close to your price.

Shop During Winter
The best time of the year to buy a new car is during the winter months at the beginning or end of the year. This is when the dealers are trying to get rid of their old inventory. They are willing to deal on the price in order to move older units to make room for the newer models. This is where you can negotiate with things like warranties, add-ons and your trade in. All of these will help you get more value for your eventual purchase.

Get Pre-Approved
You can use a diesel cost calculator from a loan website or a local bank. They will help you determine the price that you can afford. Once you are approved by the bank for a specific amount, you can talk with the dealer. Let them know that you're already pre-approved for a specific price and cannot really go over that. Salespeople like to see pre-approvals because they know they're not talking to someone that will not be able to get financed.

Related Questions and Answers

What's the Most Common Problem With Turbo Diesel Trucks?

The most common problems with turbo diesel trucks relates to the injectors and the turbo. Scheduled maintenance must be done on these trucks to ensure that they will continue to run properly. Oil changes are important. When the oil gets dirty, it tends to plug the injectors. This can be an expensive repair. Turbo diesel engines also need a cool down period after hauling a heavy load. It is extremely important to let them idle for a bit before turning them off. Failing to do this can lead to issues with the turbo. A turbo lifesaver can be handy in these trucks. These devices allow you to remove the key and lock the truck. The device turns the truck off at a certain amount of time.

Who Makes the Best Turbo Diesel Engine?

There is no commonly accepted best turbo diesel engine. Like most engine discussions, there will be thousands of opinions, everyone will have a favorite, and will defend that choice to the end. A few of the more popular turbo diesel engines would be the Cummins, which is in Dodge vehicles, Duramax, which is made by GM and Ford turbo diesels. In the majority of rankings, the Cummins comes out on top, closely followed by the Duramax. Ford turbo diesel engines do not rank well with experts and customers. It really comes down to your personal choice and which vehicle and engine meet your requirements best. 

What is a Turbo Diesel Lifesaver?

A turbo diesel lifesaver is an add-on accessory that will idle your turbo diesel truck for a set number of minutes before shutting it off. The key does not have to be in the truck, which means you can take the key out, exit and lock the vehicle and not worry about your turbo overheating. Heat related problems are common with turbo diesel engines, and an idling cool down period is necessary if you are using the truck to haul a heavy load. The livesaver makes it easy to idle the engine without having to sit around in the cab.