Is it cheaper to service a diesel-powered vehicle?
A diesel IS more expensive to service, but there are some factors of which you need to be aware.
They are that when a diesel is serviced correctly it will outlast a petrol combustion engine and a diesel-powered vehicle will tow a heavy load with ease, reducing other failures while using less fuel than a petrol engine.
The biggest-selling diesel passenger vehicle is the dual cab utility. Often, these are 4WD which gives you an advantage when you go camping in places suitable for 4WD-only vehicles such as Fraser Island or Moreton Island.
The disadvantage is a 4WD has an extra diff and transfer case that do require replacement of oils, whether you use it off road or not. And ‘sealed for life’ does not mean it outlasts you.
Sealed for life is the life of the warranty.
Reducing the cost
Let's focus on the engine and fuel system.
A diesel requires regular replacement of its fuel filter. I own a diesel and take my own advice on how often these should be replaced.
The OEM (original equipment manufacturer) has this crazy idea that we are all going to fill up with good quality diesel every time. I think they stretch the fuel filter replacement intervals too far and I advise to replace the fuel filter every 15,000km. Regular replacement of the fuel filter ensures the avoidance of premature failure.
Another item I avoid is ‘magic wonder drugs’ for diesels such as an induction clean.
With the sales of diesel-powered passenger cars peaking, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon for the ‘quick fix’ upsell product without understanding how the diesel thermal combustion engine operates.
The carbon and oil sludge build-up is normal in a diesel combustion engine. Excessive build-up can be reduced when the vehicle is driven correctly (see our article on Diesel Particulate Filters).
The removal of the intake manifold, including EGR & cooler, for cleaning at regular intervals of 60-80,000kms will ensure everything is completely spotless. This labour-intensive procedure ensures no damage, unlike the induction clean carried out every service which only removes a small quantity of carbon and itself creates uneven flow of air in each cylinder, creating further issues.
It’s not even preventative maintenance!
The white smoke from the exhaust during the induction clean process is unburnt diesel fuel - a chemical reaction when temperatures are reduced that creates a highly corrosive film on vital engine components.
Hundreds of diesel technicians are listening to this advice and the result has been positive outcomes for their customers, reducing long-term servicing costs.
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Clinton Brett is a qualified Heavy Vehicle Mechanic and Diesel Fuel Injection Specialist.
In 2013, he established Diesel Help Australia, an innovative business providing cost effective diagnostic and repair solutions for the automotive industry.
DHA delivers on-vehicle common rail diesel diagnostic training across Australia to the light and heavy industries.
Clinton is a Technical Writer for The Automotive Technician, Australian Workshop Manager and Australian Diesel Mechanic Magazine, as well as the Diesel Guest Speaker for the AAAA Conventions for the last 3 years.