Interested in Driving a Diesel Engine?
Pros & Cons
by Steve Dearborn
When we think of vehicles with diesel engines, many of us may think of the large and loud semi trucks, as well as construction or farm equipment, but some of the world’s favorite luxury cars, such as Audi and BMW, have a diesel engine. As with all types of vehicle engines, there are advantages and disadvantages of owning a vehicle with a diesel engine rather than one with a gas engine. Keep in mind, however, that neither a gas powered or diesel powered engine makes for a safer car; either car has the same likelihood for being involved in a car accident, although larger diesel trucks may fare better than a smaller compact with a gas engine.
If you drive a car with a gas engine, but are interested in switching to diesel, consider the pros and cons first:
The Advantages to Driving Diesel
Although some diesel vehicles don’t always have the same horsepower as some vehicles with gas engines, diesel vehicles often have more torque (or “turning power”). Better torque can be particularly helpful when hauling a heavy trailer and your vehicle has is more likely to accelerate more quickly from a stop.
Better Fuel Economy
Not every diesel engine is created equal, but smaller cars, particularly those manufactured by Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz are about 20-30% cheaper than their gas engine versions. Larger, heavy-duty diesel trucks, on the other hand, typically don’t get better fuel economy than their heavy-duty gas-powered counterparts. Another example of a fuel efficient diesel model is the Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel which gets about 27/46 mpg city/highway versus 22/35 mpg.
Longer Highway Driving
Along with better fuel economy comes longer highway driving. While the city mpg aren’t the greatest (taking the Chevrolet Cruze as an example), but the highway driving is almost double in mpg. Many experts recommend considering a diesel vehicle for drivers who spend most of their time on the highway.
The Disadvantages to Driving Diesel
While diesel engines are proven to be more efficient, the fuel itself is more expensive, sometimes up to 20% more. If you don’t mind spending a bit more at the pump, keep your fingers crossed that you’ll find diesel fuel when you need it because it’s not as widely popular as regular gasoline.
Maintenance and Repairs
Popular diesel versions, such as Volkswagens, may cost about the same to maintain or fix as their gas-powered counterparts, however less common diesel versions may be more expensive to repair. Additionally, diesel engines are just as complex and electronically controlled as gas engines. Some technicians may need to go through special training to repair and replace any components on a diesel car, which can end up being more expensive.
Diesels also have no spark plugs or distributors, which leads to never needing an ignition tune-up, but on the downside, diesels may need more regular maintenance than their gas powered counterparts. Considering the cost of maintenance, it may not be worth the switch from gas to diesel.