Will a Diesel Engine Save You Money?

April 6, 2012

Fuel economy is only one factor in the total cost of a diesel engine. Learn about maintenance costs and trade-in rates compared to gas engine cars.

Diesel Engine View

A diesel engine has the ability to provide you with thousands of dollars worth of savings. However, this statement will only prove true if the engine receives the necessary care and maintenance. Plus, you must own a car with a diesel engine over an extended period of time to see the cost saving benefits. Over short periods of time, cars that run on diesel do not save their owners exponential amounts of money.

Diesel Engine Operation

In the typical gasoline engine, the fuel combines with air. This mixture gets compressed by the working pistons and then ignited by small outputs from the spark plugs. The diesel engine first compresses the air, and then fuel gets added. The compression is so great that the air temperature rises enough to ignite the fuel.

Fuel Cost Savings

Diesel fuel burns slower and produces less carbon emissions than gasoline. This helps diesel car owners spend less at the pump, while harming the environment less as well.

Diesel fuel prices are typically above gasoline. However, the fluctuating economy causes major differences in fuel costs. Gasoline and diesel fuel often share similar price marks on the per gallon basis.

Even though diesel fuel often costs the same or more than gasoline, a diesel engine burns the fuel slower, resulting in increased MPG. On average, the diesel engines found in a variety of automobiles provide consumers with 20 to 30 percent higher fuel economy when compared to their gasoline counterparts. This factor alone often saves diesel owners thousands of dollars a year.

Maintenance Savings

Diesel engines do not contain some of the parts that gasoline engines require. The ignition systems between gasoline and diesel engines differ greatly. Diesel engines have no spark plugs or distributors. Therefore, diesel engines never require ignition fixes or tune-ups which often carry moderate to high costs.

High Trade-In Rates

Customers who trade in their diesel cars or trucks often receive higher payments when compared to gasoline trade-ins. Diesel engines generally last much longer than gasoline engines. Mercedes reported the longest running engine at more than 900,000 miles in one vehicle.

Car traders and sellers realize the durability and strength of diesel engines when accepting trade-ins. This gives car owners the incentive to purchase diesel power when considering a lease or future trade-in opportunity.


As previously stated, diesel engines typically last far longer than gasoline powered engines. This simply means that the money spent on a vehicle powered by a diesel engine will serve as a better investment compared to one that runs on gasoline. Of course, these statements do not always prove true based on car size, engine maintenance and other variables of individual cars and owners.

Maintenance Misconceptions

Diesel engines do require general maintenance, including oil and filter changes. Many consumers develop ideas regarding the lack of maintenance required by diesel engines. The main difference in maintenance costs between diesel and gas engines stems from the ignition mechanisms previously mentioned.

Besides the need for these general maintenance steps, owners must pay special attention to the fuel injection process and the parts involved. The majority of problems caused in diesel engines stem from the fuel injection system. Fixing these potential issues becomes even more difficult, largely because paying a diesel engine specialist grows costly for even the smallest technical problem.

Still, drivers who regularly change their vehicle fluids and the parts that easily sustain damage see longer running life and better performance.

Diesel Fuel Availability

Even though diesel fuel provides positive fuel economy for its drivers, many owners struggle to find fueling stations that sell diesel for regular fuel ups. Many diesel owners drive a lengthy distance in order to reach a station that has a diesel pump.

Many people who own diesel powered cars fuel up at truck stops along interstate highways. For some, this remains the only feasible option.

This problem diminishes the positive effects of diesel engines and diesel fuel in that the slow burning fuel becomes necessary just to reach a fuel up destination.


Noise is probably the only area in which gasoline cars outperform diesel in repeated trials. Gas vehicles offer a much smoother and less jerky ride than diesel engines, a noise and fuss which might seem hard to explain as the engines themselves are very similar in their uptake of fuel. However, many drivers become used to the noise of a diesel engine, and are prepared to put up with the noise due to the fuel savings and reduced impact upon the environment.

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