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Is Diesel right for us ?


Russethouse
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 I'm probably going to look at a car on Saturday, it has all the bells and whistles and it looks like its an ex demo, very low mileage, but its Diesel and we haven't run a diesel car before. Most days I do  a very short journey, probably under 2 miles and I have read that this is not good for diesel cars - any thoughts ?
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Conventional thinking is that you need to do at least 10,000 miles per year to make diesel more cost-effective than petrol.

Most vehicles dislike very short journeys as it drains the battery (especially in winter) and the engine/exhaust systems don't get a chance to warm up properly but whether it's petrol or diesel probably makes little difference.

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If it is a very recent diesel, then it will have a particulate filter. These trap the particles that diesels produce before their exhaust heats through, and then burn them off once the system has fully heated up. On short journeys, this will not happen, and without longer runs the particulate filter can give problems.

The second point I would make is that if you live in the UK, which I think you do, then with the increased cost of diesel fuel compared with petrol, plus the higher purchase price of diesel-engined cars, coupled with what looks to be a low annual mileage, you may be wasting your money and a petrol car may be more suitable.

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Conventional wisdom is based on the extra cost of a diesel model, no arguments there from me apart from unless buying new or nearly new it is likely to be mostly recovered on resale, and secondly the extra garage servicing costs of a diesel, fuel filters injectors, catastrophic convertor, glowplugs etc.

All I can say that in 7 years of predominantly short journeys and of doing my own servicing, with the vehicle now 11 years old and close to 300000 miles I have saved on servicing costs compared to a petrol engine, mine has the original battery, injectors, glowplugs, and the fuel and air filters only changed once. I would at the very least have bought several sets of spark plugs in that time and the petrol engine would have lost economy as they deteriorated, she returns better mileage now than 7 years ago averaging 60 + mpg.

Diesel is still significantly cheaper than petrol in France although the margin is being eroded, short journeys are where it really comes into its own as after a few seconds the combustion chamber is at operating temperature and there is virtually no enrichment, a petrol engine will be "on the choke" effectively for a few miles, after 200m when my fuel computer cuts even at minus 10 degrees in I am already doing over 30mpg, by my return from town less than 3 miles round trip it is up to full economy even though the heater still barely puts out any warmth, unless things have changed a lot a petrol engine would be doing well to get into double figures on that type of journey.

Editted, I agree wholeheartedly with Pickles, I forgot RH was in the UK.

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I was going to buy diesel when I will go to change for a smaller car soon but our mechanic friend has advised against it because I will be paying higher servicing bills and not running a diesel engine enough to make it pay, compared to coming down to 95 super from current 98 on my petrol car and what I pay for servicing on that per year. Basically, unless you do a great deal of motoring regularly, diesel is not more economic in the long run.
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No modern vehicle, petrol or diesel, is going to like the sort of use you describe so your question is moot.

The differential in the cost of servicing for petrol -v- diesel is a bit of a red herring nowadays and in practice the only real rationale for diesel is the extra mpg but for the sort of distances you say you drive it would be pointless buying one so stick with petrol would be my advice - or buy into electric !

TBH if you are only going 2 miles would you not be better off walking or going by pushbike [blink]

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My experience with a modern diesel Euro IV spec vehicle less than 3 years old was extremely expensive, despite doing some round town motoring the majority was about 12k on UK & French motorways cruising at legal speedlimits.
The DPF (diesel particulate filter) failed, resulting in the engine limping along in get home mode until it finally conked on the motorway. The replacement, including several sensors cost well into a painful four figures, the dealership advised that it was not unusual; but despite requesting a contribution from the maufacturer (just out of warranty) it was declined. This together with failure of flywheels and autoboxes on new diesel technology has put me off of the later spec vehicles.

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TBH if you are only going 2 miles would you not be better off walking or going by pushbike

 I no longer have my trusty bike (after 40 years my 'Star rider' bit the dust) and walking takes too long, by the time I've walked down there, shopped then walked back (uphill) it's about 90 minutes - I simply don't have time, plus its a pretty boring route.

No modern vehicle, petrol or diesel, is going to like the sort of use you describe so your question is moot.

Our trusty Citroen Xsara (sp?) Picasso has really only had one problem since 2004, we do have it regularly serviced and maintained though.



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I had a C3 diesel, the 1.4 HDI 16 valve model. With 92 bhp it had some real performance and gave around 65 mpg in the 80,000 miles I owned it. Only servicing ever done was oil changes every 12,000 miles.

Best bit about the C3 is the modern stiff chassis which meant that it was a great car for long fast motorway journeys from the UK to the Dordogne, it felt as comfortable as a much bigger car.

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[quote user="Russethouse"]

TBH if you are only going 2 miles would you not be better off walking or going by pushbike

 I no longer have my trusty bike (after 40 years my 'Star rider' bit the dust) and walking takes too long, by the time I've walked down there, shopped then walked back (uphill) it's about 90 minutes - I simply don't have time, plus its a pretty boring route.[/quote]Perhaps you should consider buying a new bike[:)]

[quote user="Russethouse"]No modern vehicle, petrol or diesel, is going to like the sort of use you describe so your question is moot.

Our trusty Citroen Xsara (sp?) Picasso has really only had one problem since 2004, we do have it regularly serviced and maintained though.[/quote]Modern cars when properly serviced can take this sort of usage but would be even better with more regular longer runs

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[quote user="Val_2"]I was going to buy diesel when I will go to change for a smaller car soon but our mechanic friend has advised against it because I will be paying higher servicing bills and not running a diesel engine enough to make it pay, compared to coming down to 95 super from current 98 on my petrol car and what I pay for servicing on that per year. Basically, unless you do a great deal of motoring regularly, diesel is not more economic in the long run.[/quote]

Agree that a mechanic might not be the best person to advise - has he experience of diesels or is he just a petrol man.

There are other things to take in to account........

I know it is an older model but I run a Rover 75 Diesel. How does it compare with the petrol engined models - well the petrol models have cambelts that require changing for several hundred pounds at a time. The diesel (a BMW engine) has a timing chain that does not require changing. There are no spark plugs or ignition system to go wrong, as for glowplugs well mine are the originals and the car has done nearly 220k miles. MPG - average 45, petrol possibly 30.

To my mind the right diesel cannot be beaten.

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[quote user="Pads"]I have always found the diesel cars start better than petrol in the cold weather . But that may just be mine ....[/quote]

The cylinder head pre-heaters help! However, they didn't do much good for the diesels around us in Austria a couple of weeks ago - even winter diesel waxes up below about -17C. The sensible diesel owners either tucked up their cars overnight or else bought additional winter additive and dosed their tanks ahead of time. The others had to get their cars moved to somewhere where they could heat up slowly (once you have a tank full of wax, there's not a lot you can do until it heats through from a higher ambient temperature!).

Yes, I know, these were extreme conditions, and car batteries - which you need whether you have a petrol or a diesel - don't like extreme cold.

Personally, I like diesels - the current car is one - but if I were driving a low annual mileage, predominantly at UK diesel fuel prices, mainly very short journeys, with a choice of a modern particle-filter-equipped diesel vs a petrol car, I'd be hard pushed to justify the additional cost of the diesel engine.

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"once you have a tank full of wax"

Does not happen like that, the wax only restricts the flow through the filter. A diesel heater normally only heats the filter.

Mine was fine a couple of weeks ago when at 6am the outside temperature had gone up to -19 and stayed there for the first 30 miles of my 110 mile journey. It started fine and ran well all the way.

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