What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
letsgobobby
Posts: 10478
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2009 1:10 am

What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by letsgobobby » Tue Jun 12, 2012 11:22 pm

This could be labeled "new car saga, continued." I admit that I am feeling completely overwhelmed by the choices out there. Bottom line seems to be that there are lots of perfectly good vehicles to choose from. That's almost making it harder, as there is no 'obvious' answer. Always one to get the best 'deal' I'm feeling stymied.

This is my original thread, which somehow devolved into side arguments about the definition of safety:

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=94379&start=150

Reminder I drive 20,000 freeway miles per year 60-70 mph with no traffic. I need reliability and want fuel economy. I'm thinking I might splurge a little and step up from an econobox which has essentially made my shopping list about 40 vehicles long.

That said, both Car and Driver and Consumer Reports rave about the VW Golf, including the (diesel) TDI which in real world driving gets in the 45-50 mpg range with diesel. I can get a very nice one for well under $30k. I stopped by the dealer and they seem kind of nice for a small car, but the salesperson was pretty clueless, didn't know anything about diesels.

Question: for a lifelong Honda and Toyota owner, my impression of German cars and diesels in general are as follows. Please refute or confirm any impressions, and tell me what else I would need to know about driving a diesel VW?

Impression 1: diesels will last forever (hundreds of thousands of miles) because the heavier manufacturing required to sustain the higher pressures also lead to more durable parts.

Impression 2: diesels will have less maintenance overall, no oil changes, no sparkplugs.

Impression 3: German cars are more expensive to maintain, in terms of frequency of needed repairs, cost per hour of labor, and required hours to make said repairs.

Impression 4: acceleration from zero won't be blazing fast, but new diesels otherwise drive like gasoline vehicles. The actual driving experience won't be notably different.

What else?

Note: both the VW forums on the internet have some useful info but aren't particularly active and don't specifically address changing from a Japanese car to a German diesel. Thank you for any thoughts.

Valuethinker
Posts: 32898
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by Valuethinker » Wed Jun 13, 2012 4:00 am

letsgobobby wrote:This could be labeled "new car saga, continued." I admit that I am feeling completely overwhelmed by the choices out there. Bottom line seems to be that there are lots of perfectly good vehicles to choose from. That's almost making it harder, as there is no 'obvious' answer. Always one to get the best 'deal' I'm feeling stymied.

This is my original thread, which somehow devolved into side arguments about the definition of safety:

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=94379&start=150

Reminder I drive 20,000 freeway miles per year 60-70 mph with no traffic. I need reliability and want fuel economy. I'm thinking I might splurge a little and step up from an econobox which has essentially made my shopping list about 40 vehicles long.

That said, both Car and Driver and Consumer Reports rave about the VW Golf, including the (diesel) TDI which in real world driving gets in the 45-50 mpg range with diesel. I can get a very nice one for well under $30k. I stopped by the dealer and they seem kind of nice for a small car, but the salesperson was pretty clueless, didn't know anything about diesels.

Question: for a lifelong Honda and Toyota owner, my impression of German cars and diesels in general are as follows. Please refute or confirm any impressions, and tell me what else I would need to know about driving a diesel VW?

Impression 1: diesels will last forever (hundreds of thousands of miles) because the heavier manufacturing required to sustain the higher pressures also lead to more durable parts.


Probably not true because the 'common rail' diesel in your modern passenger car is not like the diesels of old. The engine controls etc. are much more complex. It will probably last similar to a gasoline engine of similar size and use.

Impression 2: diesels will have less maintenance overall, no oil changes, no sparkplugs.


Maybe. When a diesel goes, it really will go - expensive. But should have fewer stops on the way, as it were.

Impression 3: German cars are more expensive to maintain, in terms of frequency of needed repairs, cost per hour of labor, and required hours to make said repairs.


Even in the UK they show high total cost of ownership (they have relatively high depreciation compared to Japanese). They do cost to repair, and the more so in the US I believe.

Impression 4: acceleration from zero won't be blazing fast, but new diesels otherwise drive like gasoline vehicles. The actual driving experience won't be notably different.


That's a fair assessment. You shouldn't really notice the difference.


Note: both the VW forums on the internet have some useful info but aren't particularly active and don't specifically address changing from a Japanese car to a German diesel. Thank you for any thoughts.



German cars are generally more 'fun to drive' if you like a firmer suspension and more precise steering. It's a kind of love em or hate em thing. Although it is only the case there are no speed limits in very small parts of Germany, now, they are designed for highways with no speed limits.

You are the type of person who would get clear benefits from a diesel car (not more than a hybrid, in fuel economy, probably). The rest is something of a gamble-- the technology has moved along so fast to meet environmental regs that these are just different cars. I think that the Golf you are looking at is still made in Germany? VW has historically (in the North American market) not been good at making reliable cars outside of Germany.

My view is you'll have fun with this thing, if you buy it. Owners tend to love them. It won't necessarily be a great economic decision nor a car you can keep 10 years without major expense.

In your shoes, my benchmark would be a hybrid (Prius or the new hatchback Prius-- I think that latter is being sold as a Lexus here, and the commentary basically revolves around it not being enough of a luxury car for that-- great ads you can watch on Youtube with Kylie Minogue, though;-)).

One thing gives me slight pause. Most European markets diesel cars are more than 50% of the market. That is not true, I don't think of Sweden. The difference perhaps being Sweden has one of the harshest winters in Europe (don't misunderstand: southern Germany has plenty cold and snowy winters, comparable to NE USA). If I lived in the US Midwest/ Great Plains/ Alberta etc. I'd want to be pretty happy that diesel cars were now OK with that kind of cold. I don't know why the Swedes don't buy diesels like the rest of us.

User avatar
SpringMan
Posts: 5293
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2007 11:32 am
Location: Michigan

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by SpringMan » Wed Jun 13, 2012 4:16 am

It is not true that diesels don't require oil changes. I have no experience with German cars but have owned a diesel Chevy pickup in the past and it needed regular oil changes. My brother has a diesel Jeep Liberty (common rail diesel) and he uses synthetic motor oil in it.
Best Wishes, SpringMan

User avatar
Frugal Al
Posts: 1660
Joined: Fri May 28, 2010 10:09 am

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by Frugal Al » Wed Jun 13, 2012 4:30 am

letsgobobby wrote:Impression 2: diesels will have less maintenance overall, no oil changes, no sparkplugs.

Diesels do require oil changes, and they demand the proper oil to handle the soot they produce. With platinum spark plugs and petrol engines that can go 100k miles without maintenance other than oil changes, I don't think todays automotive diesel applications (especially the TDI variants) are lower maintenance than a good petrol engine. And when something does go wrong it can be expensive, requiring a tech trained in diesel maintenance.

I agree with virtually everything VT points out about the TDIs. Most owners seem to love them. The type of driving you do would suit a TDI very well.

As far as longevity, the engine will outlast the body anyway.

I really like Volkswagen and some of their designs, but their reliability in general leaves a lot to be desired. You might be disappointed if you think you are going to get the trouble free performance Toyota and Honda generally offer. Still, if you're willing to tolerate the occasional reliability glitch, I thing one of the Volks TDIs would be a good choice.

User avatar
Epsilon Delta
Posts: 6492
Joined: Thu Apr 28, 2011 7:00 pm

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by Epsilon Delta » Wed Jun 13, 2012 8:07 am

Frugal Al wrote:
letsgobobby wrote:Impression 2: diesels will have less maintenance overall, no oil changes, no sparkplugs.

Diesels do require oil changes, and they demand the proper oil to handle the soot they produce. With platinum spark plugs and petrol engines that can go 100k miles without maintenance other than oil changes, I don't think todays automotive diesel applications (especially the TDI variants) are lower maintenance than a good petrol engine. And when something does go wrong it can be expensive, requiring a tech trained in diesel maintenance.

The TDi has a timing belt. Like most engine with a timing belt it should be replaced, at significant expense, before 100k miles.

In my personal experience* most of my maintenance expenses are things that would not depend on what type of engine I have. My expenses for exhaust, brakes, suspension, tires, glass, batteries, corrosion repairs etc. dwarf the oil changes and timing belt costs. These costs will depend on the manufacturer and model because of the quality of original design and build, and the availability and cost of parts and independent mechanics.

* Toyotas and Hondas with gas engines.

retiredjg
Posts: 30326
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2008 12:56 pm

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by retiredjg » Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:08 am

I saw a couple of headlines yesterday about diesel and cancer. This is not a new idea, just some recent research (which I didn't read).

NHRATA01
Posts: 434
Joined: Sat Oct 22, 2011 1:57 pm
Location: New York City area

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by NHRATA01 » Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:28 am

retiredjg wrote:I saw a couple of headlines yesterday about diesel and cancer. This is not a new idea, just some recent research (which I didn't read).


Diesels emit soot particulate, aka DPM (diesel particulate matter) that is considered carcinogenic. On diesel pickup trucks most utilize a particulate filter since around '08 to meet the new, tougher US emission standards. I don't believe the smaller diesels in cars require that though. DPM has been somewhat correlated to lung cancer, and similarly nanoparticles (extremely tiny particles who's danger to human tissue are not fully understood yet) are part of diesel emissions. On that front gasoline is better for the environment, despite the worse CO2 per mile emissions. It comes down to greenhouse emission vs. air quality...and that starts to touch on politics I have no desire to go to, nor does the board, so I will stop there.

However I do agree that for the OP's situation (long highway trips at steady speed) a small diesel is most ideal. Hybrids tend to make better sense in stop and go driving, and don't have as much benefit on the highway.

Also be aware that diesel is usually more expensive then regular grade gasoline, particularly in the winter in the northern areas where demand increases for home heating oil (which is essentially diesel fuel).

NateW
Posts: 448
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:44 am

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by NateW » Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:29 am

[quote="letsgobobby"]....
Question: for a lifelong Honda and Toyota owner, my impression of German cars and diesels in general are as follows. Please refute or confirm any impressions, and tell me what else I would need to know about driving a diesel VW?

Impression 1: diesels will last forever (hundreds of thousands of miles) because the heavier manufacturing required to sustain the higher pressures also lead to more durable parts.

Impression 2: diesels will have less maintenance overall, no oil changes, no sparkplugs.

Impression 3: German cars are more expensive to maintain, in terms of frequency of needed repairs, cost per hour of labor, and required hours to make said repairs.

Impression 4: acceleration from zero won't be blazing fast, but new diesels otherwise drive like gasoline vehicles. The actual driving experience won't be notably different.

What else?....quote]

I've been driving VW diesels exclusively since 1991 and I perform ALL my own repairs and maintenance on them and am a regular reader and contributor to TDIclub.com (the premier VW diesel discussion group), so I feel qualified to comment. BTW, I am going to actually attempt to persuade you to not buy a diesel automobile.

First, let me try to answer your questions:

#1: Diesel automobile powertrains last about the same length of time as their gasoline-powered cousins. Yes, diesels are built stronger, but the combustion pressures are higher and they must use high exhaust gas recirculation volumes to meet strict emissions requirements. The diesel soot in the EGR flow is abrasive to cylinders and piston rings. Gasoline engines do not have this issue (little soot in their exhaust, pre-treatment). Also, lubricating oils have gotten remarkably good at controlling engine wear that a gasoline engine, properly maintained, will wear about the same rate as a well maintained diesel engine.

#2: Diesel engine maintenance, as compared to gasoline engine maintenance, is about the same. There are oil and oil filter changes, fuel and air filter changes and coolant changes (about every 100,000 miles) Oil must be changed on schedule since modern diesels are turbocharged (oil change neglect is especially a good way to shorten a turbocharger’s life and replacements are very expensive) and diesel soot is somewhat abrasive and should not be allowed to build up. Oil change intervals in the VW diesel are every 10,000 miles. The VW diesel does have a timing belt that must be changed. If it breaks, the cylinder head is ruined and it’s about a $3000 - $4000 shop repair to fix. I believe the timing belt change interval is up to a 110,000 miles now.

#3: Possibly repairs on German cars are a little more expensive. The complication of the repairs is about the same as other makes. The big problem is many of the VW dealers do not know how to properly repair TDIs and can cause severe engine damage in some instances. An example is they tend not to replace single-use engine mount bolts when replacing the timing belts (have to remove the engine mount since the timing belt goes around it) and later the bolt(s) break and the right side of the engine falls out, causing big damage.

#4, you are correct, and in addition, diesels have extremely high torque (pulling power, the ability to increase acceleration) in the low RPM range. Step on the go pedal and they move. Full engine torque begins at about 1600 RPM and remains fairly constant up to redline of 4500 RPM. Bottom line is diesels accelerate extremely well (neck-jerking quick) from a stop, but in the upper speed range (over 70 MPH) don't behave like a really fast car.

The VW TDI is ideal for someone who either performs all their own maintenance and repairs, or has found a competent mechanic who can and is priced reasonably. VW diesels are not forgiving of neglected maintenance or repair. Very expensive damage can result (failed turbochargers and ruined cylinder heads are the biggest offenders).

I drive a 2004 Jetta TDI and I will not buy a newer diesel. So most likely this is my last. Reasons being are a) diesel fuel has gotten consistently more expensive over the years compared to gasoline (right now its at about a 15% price premium to regular gasoline). I won't go into the multitude of reasons, but it will only get worse with time. At the same time, gasoline engines have grown more efficient over the years. There is no longer a fuel economy advantage by going diesel, or if there is, it’s very small and soon will be gone.

b) Diesel cars, in order to meet US emissions regulations (they now have to meet the same exhaust standards as gasoline-powered cars) require very expensive and complicated technology (of which my '04 does not have). This includes high and low pressure EGR systems on the same engine, high pressure common rail electronic direct diesel injection and particulate traps that have automatic regeneration (soot burning). The electronics and valving for the EGR and regeneration systems is mind boggling. There have been fairly high failure rates for some of these systems on new VW TDIs.

--Nate

User avatar
rustymutt
Posts: 3621
Joined: Sat Mar 07, 2009 12:03 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by rustymutt » Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:33 am

That the upkeep cost are very high compared to American made vehicles.
Knowledge is knowing that the Tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing better than to put the tomato in a fruit salad.

Valuethinker
Posts: 32898
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by Valuethinker » Wed Jun 13, 2012 11:09 am

NHRATA01 wrote:
retiredjg wrote:I saw a couple of headlines yesterday about diesel and cancer. This is not a new idea, just some recent research (which I didn't read).


Diesels emit soot particulate, aka DPM (diesel particulate matter) that is considered carcinogenic. On diesel pickup trucks most utilize a particulate filter since around '08 to meet the new, tougher US emission standards. I don't believe the smaller diesels in cars require that though. DPM has been somewhat correlated to lung cancer, and similarly nanoparticles (extremely tiny particles who's danger to human tissue are not fully understood yet) are part of diesel emissions. On that front gasoline is better for the environment, despite the worse CO2 per mile emissions. It comes down to greenhouse emission vs. air quality...and that starts to touch on politics I have no desire to go to, nor does the board, so I will stop there.


Interesting about larger truck diesels. Didn't know that.

Diesel cars are an issue in Europe where we have *lots* of them, but not in the USA-- almost irrelevant. Even if the USA does not adopt diesel cars en masse, you will still have trucks and delivery vehicles.

The 'causes cancer' is an interesting trope (the Daily Mail headline generator, a satire of what is now the world's 3rd most popular press site has a setting that goes Do {asylum seekers, Labour, housing price crash, wind turbines, Chavs} cause {crime, housing price crash, cancer}). Yes of course cancer is a worry- but it's a statistical worry. Most of us will not die of lung cancer.

I think that, in fact, the issue is more around the other damage to respiratory systems that micro particulates cause (lung obstruction etc.)?

The other factor is that it's directly dependent on distance to the road. So poor people living next to busy motorways will suffer worse. Living even 250 yards away? Very large percentage reduction. The problem is social class-based, largely.

It's also urban. A relatively small number of urban vehicles (many not properly meeting emission standards) cause something like half of urban air pollution (it's something like 10% causes 50%). Delivery vehicles, pickups, old cars and trucks.

The biggest source of particulates for most Americans is coal fired power stations *not* diesel fumes?

A factor you don't mention is that being more efficient, diesels also save on oil consumption.

However I do agree that for the OP's situation (long highway trips at steady speed) a small diesel is most ideal. Hybrids tend to make better sense in stop and go driving, and don't have as much benefit on the highway.


Good point. I have colleagues here who in highway driving are getting 60-65 mpg (so around 48 mpg US gallon). This on Skoda estate (ie a VW Golf as a station wagon, built in Czech).

Also be aware that diesel is usually more expensive then regular grade gasoline, particularly in the winter in the northern areas where demand increases for home heating oil (which is essentially diesel fuel).


People here seem to be suggesting 10-15% higher in US markets.
Last edited by Valuethinker on Wed Jun 13, 2012 11:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

Valuethinker
Posts: 32898
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by Valuethinker » Wed Jun 13, 2012 11:16 am

retiredjg wrote:I saw a couple of headlines yesterday about diesel and cancer. This is not a new idea, just some recent research (which I didn't read).


See my other post. It feels a bit 'storm in a teacup'. Living close to a highway or busy road is not good for your respiratory health (and may be particularly bad for children). This we already knew. Particularly if you are a smoker, have asthma etc. Asthma is one of the few diseases in the developed world where the mortality rate is *rising*.

It's also true that living downwind of a coal fired power plant, particularly and older one, leads to a big increase in your mortality risk (which still doesn't mean it's highly dangerous). I saw some maps once, and the 'black plumes' of higher mortality and morbidity are impressive. I think the latest particulate control technology includes bag houses on the plants (which is expensive) and that significantly reduces the problem.

The long burning issue is that we don't know much about micro particulates and their harmful effects, and those are the particulates that are very hard/ impossible to control. The problem both for power stations and for diesel engines.

letsgobobby
Posts: 10478
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2009 1:10 am

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by letsgobobby » Wed Jun 13, 2012 4:08 pm

Thank you all for the information. Very helpful.

Reliability is an absolute must. Being unable to get to work for me is inconvenient, dangerous, and very expensive.

If the potential fuel economy advantage of a diesel is not substantial (over an efficient gas car), it sounds like it may not be right for me - someone who is a 'set it and forget it' type of car driver, and for whom reliability is king. I don't neglect my cars but I know hardly anything about them, and I don't want to spend a lot of time thinking about them. I just want them to go when I turn them on, stop when I turn them off, not cost me an arm and a leg at the pump, and - least important - be kind of fun to drive.

I will return to looking at gas vehicles.

NateW
Posts: 448
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:44 am

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by NateW » Wed Jun 13, 2012 6:09 pm

You've pretty much answered your question. You appear to be a Toyota or Honda kind of guy.

--Nate

hicabob
Posts: 2537
Joined: Fri May 27, 2011 5:35 pm
Location: cruz

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by hicabob » Wed Jun 13, 2012 6:16 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
retiredjg wrote:I saw a couple of headlines yesterday about diesel and cancer. This is not a new idea, just some recent research (which I didn't read).


See my other post. It feels a bit 'storm in a teacup'. Living close to a highway or busy road is not good for your respiratory health (and may be particularly bad for children). This we already knew. Particularly if you are a smoker, have asthma etc. Asthma is one of the few diseases in the developed world where the mortality rate is *rising*.

It's also true that living downwind of a coal fired power plant, particularly and older one, leads to a big increase in your mortality risk (which still doesn't mean it's highly dangerous). I saw some maps once, and the 'black plumes' of higher mortality and morbidity are impressive. I think the latest particulate control technology includes bag houses on the plants (which is expensive) and that significantly reduces the problem.

The long burning issue is that we don't know much about micro particulates and their harmful effects, and those are the particulates that are very hard/ impossible to control. The problem both for power stations and for diesel engines.

My Fedex ground driver just got a Mercedes Bluetec truck/van - I couldn't see/smell any particulates when he was showing it off to me. Same with my dear old Dad's new Audi A3 TDI. The Bluetec system seems to work from observation. I hate following the old diesels due to the stankiness ... but I suppose it stops tailgaters.

User avatar
rustymutt
Posts: 3621
Joined: Sat Mar 07, 2009 12:03 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by rustymutt » Wed Jun 13, 2012 6:16 pm

NateW wrote:You've pretty much answered your question. You appear to be a Toyota or Honda kind of guy.

--Nate


I'd avoid Honda's myself right now. They seem to have their share of recalls and issues with brakes on the Accords.
Knowledge is knowing that the Tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing better than to put the tomato in a fruit salad.

brad_g
Posts: 80
Joined: Sun May 15, 2011 5:14 pm

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by brad_g » Wed Jun 13, 2012 11:10 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
retiredjg wrote:I saw a couple of headlines yesterday about diesel and cancer. This is not a new idea, just some recent research (which I didn't read).


See my other post. It feels a bit 'storm in a teacup'. Living close to a highway or busy road is not good for your respiratory health (and may be particularly bad for children). This we already knew. Particularly if you are a smoker, have asthma etc. Asthma is one of the few diseases in the developed world where the mortality rate is *rising*.

It's also true that living downwind of a coal fired power plant, particularly and older one, leads to a big increase in your mortality risk (which still doesn't mean it's highly dangerous). I saw some maps once, and the 'black plumes' of higher mortality and morbidity are impressive. I think the latest particulate control technology includes bag houses on the plants (which is expensive) and that significantly reduces the problem.

The long burning issue is that we don't know much about micro particulates and their harmful effects, and those are the particulates that are very hard/ impossible to control. The problem both for power stations and for diesel engines.


On the topic of diesel pollution, shipping is a major contributor that is often overlooked: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/apr/09/shipping-pollution

- just 15 of the world's biggest ships may now emit as much pollution as all the world's 760m cars.

Impressive! Fortunately news regs going into place this year will require low-sulfur fuels near North American coastlines. Ref: North American Emission Control Area

natureexplorer
Posts: 4191
Joined: Thu Sep 03, 2009 10:52 am
Location: Houston

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by natureexplorer » Wed Jun 13, 2012 11:17 pm

This country is not made for diesels. Just get a tricked-out Accord or Camry.

markpa
Posts: 187
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2008 11:55 am

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by markpa » Thu Jun 14, 2012 12:57 am

My vote is FOR the Diesel car. I've read reports within the next 5 years, one in six US cars will be a diesel. Diesel has more BTU per gallon so even paying more per gallon it's a better buy than gasoline.

I have owned two Jetta TDIs. First was automatic, second (current) is a manual (much more fun, much better mpg, and much less maintenance/repair probability). Torque on these cars is so high that they are a treat to drive.

Someone just broke the world record by driving a 2012 Passat on one single normal-size tank of fuel -- 1626.1 miles. Let's see a hybrid or electric do that.

There are several reports on tdiclub.com of newer TDI diesels used as escort vehicles for wide loads etc driven 80-100k per year, and nothing wrong. In fact, driving 20k a year is much better for a TDI than driving it 5k a year. People there gripe about high pressure fuel pumps and failures, well some of those failures occur after 100-150k+ miles, which to them is way too low. A Gasoline vehicle the whole engine or tranny will have failed at 100-150k miles. Oil change repots (at 10k-25k) on the Diesel TDIs indicate that the engine just gets broken in at several hundred thousand miles, and shows no significant engine metal wear up through 300, 400, 500k.

You WILL want to find a TDI guru but with the kind of driving you do, it doesn't sound like it'll be that hard to show up at a Guru's place of business once every 100k for a timing belt change. the tdiclub community is so strong that there have been countless 'help I am stranded in city xyz because my (insert a unique part that napa doesn't have or napa's closed) broke. several times I've read the thread later to see that someone in the community replies "I'll get on the road now I have what you want, no charge. So sorry that I live 6 hours away from you, so that means I won't be there until 3am". If I'm having trouble I rest easy knowing that many others have already documented whatever the fix is. I print their instruction guide and have do the repair (OR take it to a competent mechanic with a printed copy of the guide).

During the several years I've owned VW TDIs and been on the tdiclub forums, VW have TDI's held their value and attacted buyers from across the country who will pay a top dollar and fly on a one way airline ticket to buy your car and drive it back home. Heck , many flock to a particular dealer via one way flight (tdiclub handle is 3193) who sells TDIs at or under invoice.

Valuethinker
Posts: 32898
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by Valuethinker » Thu Jun 14, 2012 3:13 am

brad_g wrote:On the topic of diesel pollution, shipping is a major contributor that is often overlooked: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/apr/09/shipping-pollution

- just 15 of the world's biggest ships may now emit as much pollution as all the world's 760m cars.



Glad you wrote 'may' (which I have highlighted) because that is, for sure, an urban legend. There was somewhere I read someone trying to track that one-- how it emerged and went viral.

1. the cars would produce far more CO2 and CO (Carbon Monoxide)

2. they almost certainly would produce more NOX

3. it's possible they produce less SO2 (ie acid rain) but that's the least of our environmental problems these days (again, once the scrubbers were put on the coal fired power stations, So2 emissions droppred radically

Valuethinker
Posts: 32898
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by Valuethinker » Thu Jun 14, 2012 3:23 am

hicabob wrote:My Fedex ground driver just got a Mercedes Bluetec truck/van - I couldn't see/smell any particulates when he was showing it off to me. Same with my dear old Dad's new Audi A3 TDI. The Bluetec system seems to work from observation. I hate following the old diesels due to the stankiness ... but I suppose it stops tailgaters.


Microparticulates are not necessarily visible. That's the issue, we don't know much about their effects-- asthma, COPD etc. We can, however, observe higher morbidity and mortality within certain distances of urban roadways and busy highways (and downwind from coal fired power stations). I do not know to what extent Bluetec reduces those.

The smell was just a sign of what was going on, rather than an issue per se (the smell is largely, I think, the sulphur in the old diesel fuel).

The impact is largely in respiratory disease though, and related heart conditions, rather than in cancer per se.

The nasty one with cancer is benzene, which sticks to the particulates and thus gets into your longs. Health and safety standards allow *no* safe level of benzene.

The big breakthrough with auto exhaust was getting lead out. Lead turns out to have been one of the great environmental poisons of the 20th century (and the inventor of leaded gasoline, Thomas Midgely of GM, also invented the CFC chemicals that destroy the ozone layer-- what a legacy).

It's the old struggle with air (all) pollution, when we clean up one issue (photochemical smog, NOX, SO2) we then discover new ones. In the case of Los Angeles (and Tokyo) reductions in air pollution from cars in the 70s with EPA legislation then led to new discoveries:

- a small number of older vehicles, particularly heavily used delivery and taxi vehicles, account for a large fraction of air pollution

- badly tuned or non working emission controls are a real issue (remember when people would put leaded gas in, because it was cheaper? And destroy catalytic converters?

- dry cleaning is a significant issue-- the chemicals used

- vapour from gasoline pumps (put gasoline in, displace the vapour out of the tank) was a major source of air pollution

Interestingly the most deaths from air pollution are currently caused in poor countries from cooking in poorly ventilated areas or with leaky stoves.

Valuethinker
Posts: 32898
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by Valuethinker » Thu Jun 14, 2012 9:10 am

letsgobobby wrote:I will return to looking at gas vehicles.


1. look at the leading hybrids. That Prius C gets impressive fuel economy

2. look at Hyundais, who seem to have filled the niche that Toyota and Honda once filled

3. Ford Focus gets good reviews here, I think, but it is a Ford

User avatar
Epsilon Delta
Posts: 6492
Joined: Thu Apr 28, 2011 7:00 pm

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by Epsilon Delta » Thu Jun 14, 2012 10:02 am

Valuethinker wrote:
Interestingly the most deaths from air pollution are currently caused in poor countries from cooking in poorly ventilated areas or with leaky stoves.

In particular from cooking on an open wood fire. Which brings us to the firepit thread.

http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=97844

brad_g
Posts: 80
Joined: Sun May 15, 2011 5:14 pm

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by brad_g » Thu Jun 14, 2012 10:08 am

Valuethinker wrote:
brad_g wrote:On the topic of diesel pollution, shipping is a major contributor that is often overlooked: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/apr/09/shipping-pollution

- just 15 of the world's biggest ships may now emit as much pollution as all the world's 760m cars.



Glad you wrote 'may' (which I have highlighted) because that is, for sure, an urban legend. There was somewhere I read someone trying to track that one-- how it emerged and went viral.

1. the cars would produce far more CO2 and CO (Carbon Monoxide)

2. they almost certainly would produce more NOX

3. it's possible they produce less SO2 (ie acid rain) but that's the least of our environmental problems these days (again, once the scrubbers were put on the coal fired power stations, So2 emissions droppred radically


I should have put a quote around that line as it's from the Guardian's article, along with:

The calculations of ship and car pollution are based on the world's largest 85,790KW ships' diesel engines which operate about 280 days a year generating roughly 5,200 tonnes of SOx a year, compared with diesel and petrol cars which drive 15,000km a year and emit approximately 101gm of SO2/SoX a year.


You're right about the CO2 differences. The focus of the article was health effects and related costs due to SOx. Either way, I'm glad to know low-sulfur is becoming mandatory.

letsgobobby
Posts: 10478
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2009 1:10 am

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by letsgobobby » Thu Jun 14, 2012 11:28 am

Valuethinker wrote:
letsgobobby wrote:I will return to looking at gas vehicles.


1. look at the leading hybrids. That Prius C gets impressive fuel economy

2. look at Hyundais, who seem to have filled the niche that Toyota and Honda once filled

3. Ford Focus gets good reviews here, I think, but it is a Ford


I'm looking at:
Toyota Camry
Subaru Impreza
Buick Lacrosse
(new for 2013) Nissan Altima
(") Chevy Malibu
(") Ford Fusion
(") Lincoln MKZ
(") Mazda6

For whatever reason, I just don't want a prius or a Hyundai.

NHRATA01
Posts: 434
Joined: Sat Oct 22, 2011 1:57 pm
Location: New York City area

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by NHRATA01 » Thu Jun 14, 2012 2:47 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
brad_g wrote:On the topic of diesel pollution, shipping is a major contributor that is often overlooked: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/apr/09/shipping-pollution

- just 15 of the world's biggest ships may now emit as much pollution as all the world's 760m cars.



Glad you wrote 'may' (which I have highlighted) because that is, for sure, an urban legend. There was somewhere I read someone trying to track that one-- how it emerged and went viral.

1. the cars would produce far more CO2 and CO (Carbon Monoxide)

2. they almost certainly would produce more NOX

3. it's possible they produce less SO2 (ie acid rain) but that's the least of our environmental problems these days (again, once the scrubbers were put on the coal fired power stations, So2 emissions droppred radically

#2 is incorrect. NOx emissions are higher with a diesel engine because they run a leaner air/fuel ratio and generally run higher combustion temperatures which leads to greater formation of NOx compounds. Gasoline engines will utilize either through timing control or exhaust gas recirculation, methods to reduce combustion temperatures. Diesels by nature are lean burn since they are compression ignition. This is why most diesel vehicles require urea injection to meet US emissions standards for NOx (VW's TDI I believe is the lone exception). I am certain no large diesel ships use any such method of NOx reduction.

brad_g
Posts: 80
Joined: Sun May 15, 2011 5:14 pm

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by brad_g » Thu Jun 14, 2012 3:01 pm

NHRATA01 wrote:#2 is incorrect. NOx emissions are higher with a diesel engine because they run a leaner air/fuel ratio and generally run higher combustion temperatures which leads to greater formation of NOx compounds. Gasoline engines will utilize either through timing control or exhaust gas recirculation, methods to reduce combustion temperatures. Diesels by nature are lean burn since they are compression ignition. This is why most diesel vehicles require urea injection to meet US emissions standards for NOx (VW's TDI I believe is the lone exception). I am certain no large diesel ships use any such method of NOx reduction.


I think Valuethinker meant the total NOx emissions from all cars would exceed those from ships.

NHRATA01 wrote:(VW's TDI I believe is the lone exception)


VW uses urea injection in it's larger TDI vehicles (Touareg and Passat). I don't know why the Passat needs it since it has essentially the same engine as the Golf/Jetta, but presumably being heavier it ends up exceeding some regulatory limit for NOx.

timmy
Posts: 429
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2012 2:57 pm

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by timmy » Thu Jun 14, 2012 3:27 pm

I drive a 2006 vw golf TDI. I love it. I've had almost no issues after 60k miles.

Reminder I drive 20,000 freeway miles per year 60-70 mph with no traffic. I need reliability and want fuel economy.

This past year, I've been driving almost that much. It is a nice highway car and fun to tool around local drives too.

Impression 1: diesels will last forever (hundreds of thousands of miles) because the heavier manufacturing required to sustain the higher pressures also lead to more durable parts.

Yes. Simpler, less moving parts = less chance for mechanical issues.

Impression 2: diesels will have less maintenance overall, no oil changes, no sparkplugs.

You need to change the oil every 10k.

Impression 3: German cars are more expensive to maintain, in terms of frequency of needed repairs, cost per hour of labor, and required hours to make said repairs.

Not here locally. I live in a large metro market.

Impression 4: acceleration from zero won't be blazing fast, but new diesels otherwise drive like gasoline vehicles. The actual driving experience won't be notably different.

Mostly true. It does feel different, more "torquey". Handles well in snow.

What else?

Do you live near or passby gas stations that sell diesel. Not a huge deal for me, as again, I live in a large metro market.

Overall, I would buy one again. I wish they sold diesel minivans. Drove one in Germany...

Good luck.

Random Poster
Posts: 1486
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:17 am

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by Random Poster » Thu Jun 14, 2012 5:37 pm

timmy wrote:Overall, I would buy one again. I wish they sold diesel minivans. Drove one in Germany...


Doesn't Mercedes offer a diesel Sprinter van? It is pretty much a minivan, if you get the seating package.

timmy
Posts: 429
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2012 2:57 pm

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by timmy » Thu Jun 14, 2012 8:24 pm

Random Poster wrote:
timmy wrote:Overall, I would buy one again. I wish they sold diesel minivans. Drove one in Germany...


Doesn't Mercedes offer a diesel Sprinter van? It is pretty much a minivan, if you get the seating package.


Hmmm... didn't know that. But likely more car than we would need.

letsgobobby
Posts: 10478
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2009 1:10 am

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by letsgobobby » Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:58 am

letsgobobby wrote:
Valuethinker wrote:
letsgobobby wrote:I will return to looking at gas vehicles.


1. look at the leading hybrids. That Prius C gets impressive fuel economy

2. look at Hyundais, who seem to have filled the niche that Toyota and Honda once filled

3. Ford Focus gets good reviews here, I think, but it is a Ford


I'm looking at:
Toyota Camry
Subaru Impreza
Buick Lacrosse
(new for 2013) Nissan Altima
(") Chevy Malibu
(") Ford Fusion
(") Lincoln MKZ
(") Mazda6

For whatever reason, I just don't want a prius or a Hyundai.


My list has shrunk.

VW Golf TDI - I really loved the way this car drove. I am very close to getting this car.
Toyota Camry - the safe choice, but only slightly less boaty than my 96 model
2013 Ford Fusion +/- Hybrid - intriguing and tempting, but I'd have to wait 6-12 months to get the Hybrid, and even then I'm still in the first year of a redesigned model, so I worry about reliability

Cars I have eliminated after driving or researching more:
Did not like the transmission or road noise in the Subaru Impreza
Buick not my style
new for 2013 Nissan Altima, Chevy Malibu - mileage not impressive enough
new for 2013 Lincoln MKZ - ugly IMO
Audi A3 TDI - no hatchbacks in the 2013 model year and reliability not that great
BMW 335d - reliability issues and too expensive but pretty sweet looking
Ford Focus - subpar reliability

User avatar
aja8888
Posts: 484
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 11:28 pm
Location: The Woodlands, Texas

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by aja8888 » Thu Jul 12, 2012 6:52 am

I have a 2000 Jetta TDI approaching 200,000 miles (198,700). Superb car with no headaches, just normal maintenance. It's my daily driver. I just returned from New Mexico with it and averaged 46 MPG at highway speeds over 1400 miles (cruise set at 75 MPH).

This is my 4th TDI and all were great. In Texas, the bodies last forever so our 2000 looks fresh as a daisy. Our 2005 Passat TDI has ~ 150,000 on it with no real issues. These are great cars for the person who likes performance and spends a lot of time on the highway. Plus, the resale value of these cars is very good with gasoline over $3/gallon.

If you like driving an appliance, get a Honda or Toyota. If you want a little spice in your driving life, get a diesel (VW, BMW).

staustin
Posts: 107
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2011 9:36 am

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by staustin » Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:15 am

2010 jetta tdi owner.... wife and i LOVE, LOVE that car. Always a toyota owner before. For performance and mileage, it's easily the way to go. Don't buy one though unless there is a reliability german mechanic in town. Fortunately we have a shop just down the street that's very affordable. Otherwise, you will be subject to dealer prices. Not pretty. We're about to begin year 4 with our car and no issues to date.

User avatar
aja8888
Posts: 484
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 11:28 pm
Location: The Woodlands, Texas

Re: What do I need to know about diesel German cars?

Post by aja8888 » Thu Jul 12, 2012 8:52 am

staustin wrote:2010 jetta tdi owner.... wife and i LOVE, LOVE that car. Always a toyota owner before. For performance and mileage, it's easily the way to go. Don't buy one though unless there is a reliability german mechanic in town. Fortunately we have a shop just down the street that's very affordable. Otherwise, you will be subject to dealer prices. Not pretty. We're about to begin year 4 with our car and no issues to date.


Dealer prices for repairs in other cars are not so cheap anymore. My neighbor needs his timing belt changed on a 2000 Camry. Dearer quoted $1400.00. That's without "extras" like the water pump, serpentine belts, etc. My timing belt AND water pump on my old TDI cost less than that ($900).

Post Reply