When you’re in the market for a vehicle, there’s an almost overwhelming number of things to consider. What make & model? Color? What fuel economy works best for you? What about your budget? But while there are countless things prespective car buyers think of, many may often forget to consider purchasing a used diesel car. But is one worth your hard-earned cash? Or are you at risk of driving home in a lemon?
To help you through the process, it can help to look at the pros, cons, and problems to look out for, so you can decide whether buying a used diesel car is the route you want to go down.
Why You Might Want to Buy a Diesel Car
There are some serious benefits to choosing diesel over a traditional gas-powered engine. Firstly, diesel fuel is denser, so it burns much slower than gas, which means you get much more range from a diesel vehicle, with some of the newer models reaching 40mpg on the highway. And yes, diesel fuel is more expensive, but for some vehicles, this kind of fuel economy can reach an impressive 500-600 miles on a single tank, so you won’t need to fill up as often.
If you prefer torque to horsepower, you’re better off buying a diesel vehicle as it will often have a much quicker acceleration. Torque also gives added towing power, so diesel engines are ideal for pulling heavier loads, like those you’d find at a worksite or towing camping gear and equipment.
Is It Better to Buy a New Diesel Car, Or a Used One?
Sure, buying a new car means it’ll include a factory warranty, but you can save quite a bit of money by opting for a used diesel vehicle and adding an extended warranty later. Whether you’re looking for a luxury cruiser or just something that will get you to work and back, several major automakers have produced reliable diesel models in the last ten years—most of which you’ll find on the market today.
Higher-end used diesel cars are generally in the $20,000 to $40,000 range, but you can often purchase models lower down the scale for less than $20,000. And with electric vehicles on the rise, demand for diesel cars has dropped significantly, so that you can use the situation to your advantage. Shop around, and you’re sure to find something that suits your budget.
Things to Look for When Buying a Used Diesel Car
There are plenty of upsides to buying a used diesel car, but like any major purchase, it can come with some risks. That’s why if you’re considering a used diesel vehicle, you’ll want to check a few key areas before you hand over any money:
A healthy diesel engine will emit a small amount of soot, but a buildup on the exhaust is a sign of a problem. Likewise, if the engine is on and the exhaust fumes are thick and black—or even white—there’s something untoward going on under the hood.
Take a look at the oil on a dipstick. If you notice a white, milky substance on the stick, this indicates engine issues. Also, check for oil around gaskets and if there’s any leaking underneath the car.
Radiator fluid should be clean, without gunk or debris. If it isn’t a consistent color, streaky, lumpy, or contaminated with oil, it’s best to consider a different car.
Diesel vehicles are notoriously bad at starting in cold weather. Diesel fuel is much thicker than gas, making it harder for it to move through the fuel lines when temperatures are low. But if you’re experiencing the same issues during the warmer months, try cranking the engine, and if it takes a long time to start, there are problems with glow plugs in the head. These are expensive to replace.
It’s important to take the car for a test drive to see how it handles. Check for vibrations, responsiveness, and hesitations in power, as well as any excessive smoke.
Protect Your Diesel Car with an Extended Warranty
Buying a used vehicle generally means that the factory warranty has long since expired, so it’s always recommended that you take measures to protect yourself from expensive repair bills. There are various options available—from extended warranties to vehicle service contracts—which you can check out here. We also have an extended auto warranty buying guide, which offers a step-by-step breakdown of everything you need to consider before you sign any contracts.
New to the world of extended car warranties? No problem. We have an introduction to the service, including information on what an extended auto warranty is and why you might need one. Head over and take a look now.