Diesel Vehicles: Understanding the Truth Behind the Hype

March 18, 2013

Learn about the advantages of diesel vehicles, the top selling diesel engine cars, and ways to further increase diesel car MPG.

Filling Up Diesel Vehicle

There has been a lot of hype about diesel vehicles and their use by the general public. Many people believe that the diesel car is more efficient, more environmentally friendly and cheaper to run than a car powered by gas. As more people have become interested in the environment, there has been a greater demand for diesel vehicles, and these demands are increasing sales of diesel cars across the globe, including in the United States. While there are many good reasons for buying a diesel car, there are also some downsides which people should be aware of before they invest in a diesel vehicle. The pros and cons of all varieties of fuels should be studied by anyone considering what kinds of car to buy.

Diesel cars first gained popularity during the fuel crisis of the 70s because a diesel motor could be expected to go as much as 30 percent farther on each gallon of gas than a conventional gas motor. However there were a few disadvantages to running a diesel motor in the 70s. The good news is that as technology has advanced, so has the diesel motor. Today's clean diesel cars are nothing like the diesel cars that were formerly available.

Environmental Benefits
There are many positive aspects of the environmental effects of diesel vehicles. They produce less CO2 emissions than a gas engine, and there are also cars which have been adapted to run on green diesel, which produces even fewer greenhouse gases. However, there is the risk of higher emissions of Nitrogen Oxide, which is a pollutant.

Older diesel motors often produced foul smelling black smoke, but that has changed too. Today's diesel fuels are more refined than they used to be. The fuel is produced in a way that removes sulfur and other contaminants. Like the difference between leaded and unleaded gasoline, this has had a massive impact on the emissions that diesel motors produce. With the addition of modern emission control systems, diesel motors have cleaned up very nicely. The exhaust from today's clean diesels isn't any more harmful than the exhaust from a comparable gas engine.

On the downside, diesel cars not burning clean diesel can still produce some serious emissions which have been linked to stress and associated with increased asthma attacks. Some people even suggest that the emissions from diesel can produce cancer due to the inhalation of sooty byproducts. These have been shown to inflame the lungs, and this is obviously a serious consideration if you already suffer from asthma or other lung complaints.

Fuel Costs
Diesel fuel fluctuates in price between the summer and winter, so the same fuel which was cheaper than gas in the warmer weather may be more expensive in the winter. With this in consideration, it seems that diesel vehicles are not any cheaper or more expensive than any other type of car.

But aside from the direct cost of diesel fuel, there may be savings in the amount of fuel you need to purchase over a month. Diesel has been shown to improve the power of the engine, with better efficiency. With the higher MPG of diesel, you will have fewer fill-up than with a gas driven car. It is also possible now to purchase high-performance fuels in diesel, meaning that you can run even very demanding cars with this power source.

Engine Noise
When many people think of a diesel motor, they think of the deafening roar of a semi truck. The reality is that today's diesel cars don't make the clatter or knocking sounds that many people associate with this type of engine. Diesels have quieted down quite a bit, and most diesel powered sedans don't make any more noise than their gasoline counterparts.

Performance Levels
Performance was often a concern with older diesel cars. They tended to be sluggish and even difficult to drive because of poor acceleration and difficulties with power handling. Newer diesel cars have moved past these hurdles. They are able to function well at higher RPMs and are coupled with transmissions that are better designed to handle the unique properties of a diesel powerplant. A good example of a diesel car that offers excellent performance is Volkswagen's Jetta TDI.

Fuel Availability
It is true that fewer service stations carry diesel than normal unleaded gas. But as diesel powered cars and trucks have gained popularity with average consumers, diesel fuel has become easier to find. It shouldn't be a problem for anyone to locate a gas station convenient to their home that offers diesel gas. You may have to drive a bit out of your way or change the service station you normally visit; but the extra gas mileage you get from a diesel car should offset any inconvenience.

The Top Selling Diesel Engine Cars: A Comparison Guide

When you talk about diesel engine cars there are some names that are always at the top of the list. Because of the way that gas prices have risen in the last few years, these diesel engine cars are making a big comeback. These same names are continuing to be some of the top selling diesel vehicles.

  • Volkswagen. Volkswagen have become the one of the leading makers of the diesel car, from the the Jetta, to the VW Polo. As with everything from the Volkswagen stable, the Polo is designed to work as hard as possible, with a high performance engine, while using as little fuel as it can. The Polo is a fantastic passenger car, small and compact while still able to make the best out of its size. There are a few disadvantages, most of which concern the cost. As with the rest of Volkswagen's diesel models, the extra cost of the diesel fuel engine is passed onto the consumer directly, so you should expect to pay a lot more for this car than for a gasoline engine of a similar capacity
  • Audi Diesel. When you think about diesel, and luxury, you cannot leave out the Audi vehicle line. Audi has presented itself as one of the fastest growing car companies because of its incredible line of automatic diesel cars. With the A3 model and Q7 TDI sport utility vehicle, they are sure to give other manufacturers a run in the luxury sedan and SUV classes. While they do carry a heftier price tag than the other diesel cars, their value and top selling status is firmly established. With MPG in the high 30s, these diesel additions are already achieving great sales numbers
  • Honda Civic CTDi. When it comes to Honda diesel cars, the Civic, while not available in a diesel model in America, it is wildly popular in Europe and Asia. The new CTDi is a radically new version of the old Civic, with a new design and style. The Civic CTDi carries with it a 204 HP, 2.0 liter i-VTEC engine that can give it decent acceleration and top speeds. Honda perhaps makes the cheapest of the diesel passenger cars. While this is good news for the general consumer, Honda diesel cars tend to be less fuel efficient than many of the others. Also, there is a possibility they are not as environmentally friendly as other diesel cars, which have additional filters and converters. You do get what you pay for, and while the Honda is a sturdy little car, there are other considerations which bring its viability into question
  • Toyota Diesel. A nice, middle of the range car, Toyota diesel cars have the range of a Volkswagen while being as accessible as a Honda. Perhaps the biggest difference between the Polo and the Toyota models, aside from direct price, is the amount of savings you make on your fuel. Volkswagen beats any other car at this, so it is no surprise that Toyota should be struggling. However, this should not detract from the elegance of the car, nor the power of the engine under the hood

How to Maximize Your Miles per Gallon

Diesel gets approximately 33 percent better fuel economy than gasoline. With gas prices rising, many people are looking to maximize their fuel economy, even if they get already great mileage. Here are some ways to do so.

Tune-Up Your Engine
The first thing you should do to increase your fuel economy is get your car looked at by your mechanic. There are several parts that may be affecting your mileage. The biggest ones are your air filters and oxygen sensors. You can think of these as the lungs of the car. If they are clogged, they cannot perform at their optimal levels, and can drag you down by up to 20 percent when it comes to fuel economy. Another important part is the fuel injection system. If there is a leak, it causes the engine to work harder, using up more gas.

Check Your Tires
Something you can easily check yourself are your tires. They should be properly inflated with the right amount of air and pressure. Doing so can increase your fuel efficiency by 3 to 5 percent.

Turn off Your Air
If you don't need it, drive without the air conditioner on. The A/C system drains a lot of power, so if you need a breeze, open up your windows. At highway speeds, put your windows back up and turn on your A/C. The drag of open windows offsets the advantage of having the air off.

Limit Acceleration
Maintaining a constant speed is important. Limiting your acceleration burns less fuel. If your car has cruise control, it is recommended you use it on the highway. Cruise control allows you to set your car to go a constant speed, and you will see increased mileage on the highway. On the regular roads, you want to try to limit hard accelerations, drive steady and smooth at normal speeds.

Avoid Traffic
Avoiding traffic is a way to increase your fuel economy. Traffic causes you to engage in "stop and go" driving. This is the main culprit to your fuel economy when you are in the city. Stop and go driving is when you accelerate, then brake, accelerate, brake, and this goes on for a long time. You drain fuel and don't get very far. Try changing your travel time, or taking a different route. The route may be longer, but if it is less busy, you will use up less fuel.

Privacy Policy|Terms of Use|Cookie Policy|Disclaimer
COPYRIGHT 1999-2019 MH Sub I, LLC dba CarsDirect.com