Pros And Cons Of Diesels – If You Are Considering Buying A Diesel-powered Car
If you’re considering buying a diesel-powered vehicle, take a good look at this article before you decide.
To accurately compare diesel vehicles with traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, you need to consider a number of pros and cons.
PRO: Diesels get great mileage.
CON: So do vehicles with fuel-efficient gasoline-powered engines, which often cost a couple of thousand dollars less than diesels. You can buy a lot of gas for a couple of thousand dollars! Diesel fuel is not available at many service stations, and although it used to be cheaper than gasoline, it now often costs as much – or more – than gasoline, and it may become even more expensive, depending on availability and demand.
PRO: Diesel fuel contains more usable energy than gasoline.
CON: Although diesel fuel is considered more efficient because it converts heat into energy rather than sending the heat out the tailpipe as gas-powered vehicles do, it doesn’t result in flashy “high performance.” A gasoline-powered vehicle is like a racehorse – high-strung, fiery, and fast -whereas a diesel vehicle is more like a workhorse – slow, strong, and (hopefully) enduring.
PRO: Diesels have no spark plugs or distributors. Therefore, they never need a tuneup.
CON: Diesels still need regular maintenance to keep them running. You have to change the oil and the air, oil, and fuel filters, and you may need to bleed excess water out of the system. If you neglect the maintenance, and the fuel injection system breaks down, you’ll probably have to pay a diesel mechanic big bucks to get things unsnaggled.
PRO: Diesels are built more ruggedly to withstand the rigors of higher compression. Consequently, they usually go much longer before they require major repairs than conventional vehicles do. (Mercedes-Benz holds the
longevity record with several vehicles clocking more than 900,000 miles on their original engines!)
CON: Do you really want to hang on to the same vehicle for 900,000 miles?
Also, there have been cases where automakers have simply plunked diesel engines into vehicles that were originally designed to be gasoline-powered. Because these vehicles weren’t constructed to stand up to the stresses imposed by the high compression that diesel engines require, they suffered failures that contributed to their swift decline in popularity.
PRO: Turbocharged diesels have better fuel efficiency and are much more powerful and responsive than traditional diesel vehicles.
CON: Turbocharging will probably get cheaper and even more efficient as time goes on, but you can buy a turbocharged, gasoline-powered vehicle and have the advantages of both.
PRO: Diesels have become easier to start in cold weather.
CON: Although they’re better than they used to be, diesel engines are still more difficult to start on cold days than gasoline engines are.
PRO: Diesels put out much less carbon monoxide than ordinary vehicles do, which means less air pollution.
CON: This is a major misconception. Diesels put out 30 to 90 percent more nitrogen oxides and carbon particles (soot), and recent studies show that diesel emissions can cause cancer. As a result, recent legislation is aimed at getting diesel-powered vehicles off the road completely unless they can find a way to meet increasingly stringent EPA standards.
Ultimately, you’re going to have to check out what’s available and make up your own mind. However, based on the current situation, unless you do a lot of driving in parts of the world where gasoline is scarce and diesel fuel is plentiful, I’d stick to gasoline or consider one of the alternatively powered vehicles. If you do decide to buy a diesel vehicle, be sure to choose one that allows you to do most of the maintenance yourself, without requiring a great deal of time, money, or skill. Check the owner’s manual and talk to diesel mechanics to be sure that the oil is easy to change, because you’re going to have to change it quite often.