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Old June 8th, 2010, 01:25   #1
JIESEL
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Default Maintenance costs, Diesel vs. Gas, help please!

I was talking with my cousin yesterday and he basically told me that TDI maintenance costs are generally so much higher then petrol engines that it outweighs any fuel savings I might have. Is there any truth to this? He's also a mechanic so I'd assume he knows what he's talking about, but perhaps he just ran into a few TDI's that wern't taken care of properly? what are your experiences/ opinions? I still REALLY want a golf TDI but if the maintenance is rediculous then I might not get one.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 03:23   #2
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he basically told me that TDI maintenance costs are generally so much higher then petrol engines that it outweighs any fuel savings I might have.

And how does he know this?

My personal experience is that there is little or no difference in maintenance cost.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 04:09   #3
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I thought we had a longer thread than this one. Okay, I'll reply basically the same as I did before. Where's the difference? Oil changes on both gas and diesel are basically once/year for most people. There are NO spark plug changes. Glow plugs will last about 3 or 4 times sprark plugs. The ones on our 240D had to be replaced in about its 20th year. Fuel filters are changed the same about 30k miles. The 240D required valve adjustment every 15k miles; not so on the TDI.

About the only significant difference between gas and diesel is that its a bit more effort to find a diesel station.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 04:13   #4
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I agree that, anecdotally, there is no difference in maintenance costs. Believing, as I do, that automobiles are not disposable commodities, the lifetime cost is the essential evaluation.

I'd rather pay to maintain a paid-for car than pay for marketeering. I will walk before I drive a Government Mandated Car - GMC.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 04:31   #5
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Based on my ownership of vehicles over my driving lifetime I would say that the ownership costs are similar based on recommended schedules. However, often times items wear out or break prematurely requiring attention and the dreaded "unscheduled" repair.

My previous 1999 model VW Golf TDI needed far more glow plugs than my 1999 BMW 323i has ever needed and the cost of a glow plug is about double the cost of a spark plug that the BMW requires. This parity jumps up to 10 times the price difference if you compare to a basic Toyota or Chevy. The BMW plugs are quite pricey at $12 a pop. The cheapest Bosch glow plug I ever found for my TDI was $20 and as stated, they rarely lasted over 100,000 miles whereas the replacement interval for the spark plugs in the BMW is 100,000 miles.

Fuel filters are required at more than double the frequency on the diesel and they too are twice as expensive as they are for my gasser BMW.

Timing belts are costly along with the additional need to change bolts, pumps, o-rings, etc. whereas the BMW requires only a coolant flush every four years regardless of mileage. After 11 years of ownership my BMW is on the original water pump.

I have a box of miscellaneous parts that my VW Golf TDI required to keep it running after 10 years of ownership. For my gasser BMW,,, I have only one spare oil filter on the shelf.

Yes, I definitely agree with the OP's mechanic friend. Owning a TDI for financial preservation probably isn't a wise decision. Driving it for the fun of driving it is another story. Personally I'd never try to sell a TDI based the low cost of ownership. That would be dishonest,, plain and simple.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 04:32   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Huffman
I agree that, anecdotally, there is no difference in maintenance costs. Believing, as I do, that automobiles are not disposable commodities, the lifetime cost is the essential evaluation.
Anecdotes are not facts.

If you do all your own wrenching and repairs and don't consider that to be a cost, then a TDI may well cost less than the gasser.

If you have to pay someone else to service and repair your TDI, then it will cost far more than a gasser. Really it will depend on how much you drive. Drive a lot, expect to pay a lot. That's not an anecdote, I have a stack of bills 1.25" high for the last 137,000 miles detailing over $18K in dealer & guru service, including the $5600 01M transmission.

VW parts are expensive and not very well made, so expect to replace them frequently.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 05:25   #7
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It really depends on what cars your are comparing, and how long and how much you drive them.

For instance, the ALH cars popular 2.0L gas counterpart (there were actually 3 different 2.0L engines during the ALH's run: AEG, AVH, AZG, but the are all pretty comparable for this post) is actually a decent enough engine for most people. And its PM costs will generally be lower than the ALH. And here is why:

oil: same, 5w40, 502.00 spec for the gasser, 505.00 spec for the ALH, both 10k mile intervals, both hold about the same.

filter: different filter, but the ALH one is usually a couple bucks more.

air filter: same, same interval.

fuel filter: this is where the diesels cost a LOT more. ALH needs a rather pricey filter every 20k miles, the 2.0L needs one about every 100k miles and they are half the cost (comparing GOOD brand filters).

spark plugs: no, the ALH does not have any, but its glow plugs cost twice as much and while they do not need replacement every 40k miles like the 2.0L engines do, they often do not make it to even 100k miles before needing attention.

timing belt: the ALH has a complicated list of items that need to be replaced, and it takes more time. The intervals we can say at this point are the same at 100k miles, but you can figure the 2.0L will be about $250 less P&L.

ignition system: the coils and spark plug wires are generally pretty good on the 2.0L engines, with the acception of the AEG which has a slightly different one, and those sometimes have issues... but they are only about $100 and are easy to replace.

So, other differences:

ALH: complex VNT turbo that sometimes needs attention, and these are not cheap. Same for the Bosch VE injection pump.

2.0L: oxygen (Lambda) sensors are a weak spot, especially on the AEG, but are not terribly expensive nor difficult to service. However, they link into the 2.0L's biggest problem, the catalyst which is monitored, and rarely make it much past 120k miles and will set you back about $1k to replace (VW extended the warranty on these they had so many problems).

So really, in the end, the REAL comparison ends up being purchase price (2.0L wins hands down, especially if you buy used), fuel economy (no contest, ALH owns that title), and driveability (subjective, but for the highway the torquey ALH wins IMHO, despite being a little slower around town).

Then the fact that pretty much every 2.0L, especially the AEGs, seem to use quite a bit of oil puts a black mark on its column, and when it comes to tuning for extra power obviously any turbodiesel is going to have an edge over a NA gasser.

But overall, as far as PM and such, they are pretty much dead even.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 05:36   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsagoth
Anecdotes are not facts.

If you do all your own wrenching and repairs and don't consider that to be a cost, then a TDI may well cost less than the gasser.

If you have to pay someone else to service and repair your TDI, then it will cost far more than a gasser. Really it will depend on how much you drive. Drive a lot, expect to pay a lot. That's not an anecdote, I have a stack of bills 1.25" high for the last 137,000 miles detailing over $18K in dealer & guru service, including the $5600 01M transmission.

VW parts are expensive and not very well made, so expect to replace them frequently.
$18k over 7 years = $2571/yr. Even w/o the 01M trans, that's still quite expensive!

I hope your case is not typical as I will one day own a TDI. If it does cost more to own, I'll might as well stick to gas.

It could be luck but my '01 1.8T NB (01M trans) currently has 172k and I've spent $5800 for mostly maintenance. I do most of the work myself, which helps me to see what's going on with the car.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 05:53   #9
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Not including routine scheduled Fluid & Filters:


2005 TDI #1, 190,000 miles.

1 set brakes & rotors $350 @ 145,000 miles
1 Set tires @ 120,000 (Stock was Continental)
1 Timing belt @ 100,000 miles $600? from Jason (Not sure about the price)

2005 TDI #2 85,000 miles

1 set brakes & rotors $350 @ 75,000 miles
1 Set tires @ 65,000b (Stock was Michelin)
1 Antenna $20

2004 TDI had 55,000 miles

Nothing beyond fluid & filter.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 06:09   #10
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Pretty much what Oil Hammer said.

Also, it boils down tot he mount of abuse someone heaps on the car. Some people just drive ROUGH. Those cars need suspension, tires and clutch work at 2-3x's the normal rate. I see that a lot.

FWIW the coil pack, wires, and plugs from VW run $350. I see them needing replacement every 100K miles or so. So that eats up the cost difference on a timing belt service.

Longevity, other than the higher oil consumption I see several upper 200K 2.0s pretty frequently. All long distance commuter cars.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 06:17   #11
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The one thing that I have noticed is that, most often, you see people who drive A LOT owning TDIs which is a smart thing because of their longevity and fuel economy. It would probably seem like, after awhile, that your car is in the shop all the time if you drive it a ton. The fact of the matter is yes the engine is a diesel but the rest of the car is still a normal car. So you have to take care of it in order for it to last. I'd say that most of these guys here are perfect examples of owners that make their cars last.

I can say for a fact that I have spent more money on my Buick Regal GS during my time of ownership than most of the TDIers on here and my Buick gets far worse gas mileage than these cars. 90% of the stuff on my car was problems with non engine related things as well (hey I take car of the engine). Things on my car that I didn't really expect to go out that did and set my warranty company back a ton of money would be things like:

40,000 miles - underhood fuse box shorted and melted - $800.00 for parts and another $1,000.00 for an auto electrician of sorts to rerun the wiring harness

45,000 miles - trans fuild pressure control module stuck shut - I don't remember how much it was but I remember it was in the neighborhood of a couple hundred dollars parts and labor.

55,000 miles - defective supercharger nose seal. The funny thing about this doosey was that there is no replacement for that seal sold by GM so you have to get the whole supercharger as a unit.....you don't wanna know the price.

coming up on 73,000 miles one of the CV joints tore the boot and flung grease everywhere.

Got done with the CV joint taken care of and the lower engine mount tore....yet another replacement.

By 83,000 miles I am out the cost of buying and installing (on my own) three window reglulators.

and the list goes on.....so as you see, for me, the TDI maintenance looks like a cake walk.



Just an example.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 06:19   #12
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I should also add I have seen plenty of 2.0L cars with over 300k miles, and the 01M transmission for whatever reason is several hundred dollars cheaper on the gas cars than the diesels.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 06:21   #13
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Honestly, the thing that scared me most about purchasing a TDI is viewing some of the catastrophic stories. If you need to replace a turbo or an injection pump you can easily get over the grand mark.

To me, that would just suck. I think the largest repair bill I've ever had on any vehicle was about 300 for a fuel pump.

Luckily, I've tried to keep myself as informed as possible and will try to keep a little nest egg stored in case a catastrophic failure happens.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 06:24   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by procupine14
I can say for a fact that I have spent more money on my Buick Regal GS during my time of ownership than most of the TDIers on here
Wow, you have had some bad luck with your GS... and some pretty unheard of failures for the car.

I have well under a grand in repairs on mine and I'm at 190k miles.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 06:26   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by belome
Honestly, the thing that scared me most about purchasing a TDI is viewing some of the catastrophic stories.
Yeah I hear you on that. One thing that I have been able to do on this forum is to prepare for the worst if it does happen

But like I said up a few posts my Regal is in the shop A LOT and my Regal LS was in the shop even more often than my GS is so I can't say that my Buicks have been incredible in that category. But they are fun!
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