VW has been a strong diesel supporter for many years. In 2009 they released the Common Rail engine. This new Common Rail (CR) engine is very powerful, fuel efficient and ultra clean. VW dealers have a hard time keeping them on the lot, because everyone wants them.
I have been asked a couple of times over the past week or so, “Should I buy a Jetta TDI?” My answer usually surprises people. I almost always say “NO”. That is always followed up by, “Charles, they get 40+ MPG”. I know they get great mileage, but a TDI is not for everyone. Here are some reasons why I would give a TDI real consideration before jumping right in.
They cost more initally
The Jetta for example, is about $2550 more for a TDI than a similarly equiped Jetta with a 2.5L engine. That means you are down about $2500 from day 1
Fuel is more expensive
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, I know that sounds fake! Regular unleaded fuel is about $0.20 cheaper a gallon than diesel. Yeah, I know its only a couple of bucks for each fill up, but remember in 2008 when diesel was $0.40 more per gallon?
The new TDI is super fuel sensitive
As little as 1% of gas in the fuel will cause catastrophic damage to the fuel system. At this point, I dont think that the diesel quality in the USA is high enough. I have replaced, or have seen several fuel systems replaced because of bad fuel, algee in the fuel, or because gas was put in the tank. A few gas in the tank issues were the customers fault, some were proven that the station had the wrong fuel in their tank, and some are still unknown. Its a much higher risk than having bad gasoline
Maintenance costs are higher over the life of the vehicle
The current TDI needs a fuel filter at least every 20,000 miles. This will run you about $80 at the dealer. At 80,000 miles, your car will need a timing belt. Get ready to spend $1200 or so on that. The other common VW engines are chain driven and do not have a maintenance interval for replacement.
Based on all that, I dont think that a TDI is right for a lot of the people that buy them. They need more love than other VWs do. I will say that I really do like diesel technology. I think for the person that burns up the road, a TDI is perfect. It bothers me that people will buy a TDI without the proper research.
I do support our TDIs. I think its a great engine. In heavy traffic, the air coming out of the tail pipe is cleaner than whats coming into the engine. So before you buy a TDI, make sure its right for you and it fits your vehicle needs.
Post what you think in the comments. I know there are lots of hardcore diesel folks that would not trade a TDI for anything, but thats not most people.