1. People are far more likely to take the time to go onto message boards to complain about a bad experience that they've had, versus writing about a good one. Most satisfied customers won't waste time on reviews mentioning everything is as it should be.
2. All car manufactures make lemons: Some car manufactures do a better job at making great cars than others, but more importantly, some also do a better job of catching the lemons before they are sold. These lemon owners may be few in number, but are bound to be the most vocal and most repeated.
3. I'll just say people seldom read and follow their owner's manuals:
When I talk with other clean diesel owners I discover that they are often uninformed on the most basic care facts that will promote there vehicle's longevity. So, while diesels have been around forever, the clean diesels have not. It totally makes sense why there are people in the dark. These people are likely going to be unhappy with their vehicle's reliability or performance down the road. There are some notable differences in the way older diesels and newer, clean diesels run and are maintained
When I refer to clean diesels, this means most diesels made from around 2008 or 2009. With exception to the 2009-2014 VW Jetta and Golf TDi's, these diesel engines require DEF or Diesel Exhaust Fluid to function. Unless modified, you shouldn't see any black smoke bellowing from these rigs.
In fact, the Sprinter offered the first certified Super Ulta Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) Diesel Engine in the world. These 4 cylinder turbo diesels achieved up to 90% lower emissions than an equivalent gasoline powered engine, according to Mercedes sales literature. That's quite remarkable, 90%!
Typically a conversation on new diesel vehicles stirs up a negative remark or some doubt about the new clean diesel emission technology, specifically its reliability over the long-term. Some of it may be fair, because of their relatively short time on the market. The negative testimony may be attributed in some part to owners not taking the care they ought to, again because they don't know any better. Other negative comments are made by people with an agenda, against diesels.
Most diesel owners know that clean oil is very important, they may change it often, but in many cases they may not be aware of the B-5 requirements their vehicles carry or that there vehicle was not designed for mostly low speed city driving, without a regular highway trip to burn off emission deposits. For example my 2015 Sprinter owner's manual states:
"If the vehicle is predominantly used for short distance driving or is stationary for long periods, this could lead to a malfunction in the automatic cleaning function for the diesel particulate filter. This can also result in fuel collecting in the engine oil and cause engine failure.
Therefore, if you mainly drive short distances, drive on a highway or an inter-urban road for 20 minutes every 300 miles. This facilitates the diesel particle filters burn-off process."
This could prove to be a big deal to overlook and could fuel some negative reviews by uninformed owners. It's easy to keep your Sprinter on the road once you know that it benefits from more highway miles. This maintenance exercise carries over to a variety of other diesel makes and models. The education about this really should start with your first encounter, that being the dealer. Is that really likely though?
When I was looking to purchase a new 2017 Ford Transit (T-350) diesel, I saw that there were various re-gen options available from the manufacturer literature but that these options were not included on the vehicle I was test driving. One of the re-gen option features would, as I understood it, make the emissions cleaning pretty much as easy as pushing a button or switch. This option feature is created mostly with delivery drivers in mind, as their driving naturally involves lots of idling and frequent stops. The Ford salesman expressed no real interest in ordering a model with the re-gen option, because his inventory at the time didn't have any and instead remarked that it wasn't needed and wouldn't add any real value. Mind you, this was a big dealership and the salesman was the dedicated sales guy in charge of Transit vans. Because of that early encounter I got the idea that this feature really wasn't of any value. It turned out to backfire on him though, as Ford offered this unique option feature that wasn't available on the Sprinter. Of course I didn't buy it in the end, as I found a Sprinter deal too good to pass on.
I mention this because this is a big oversight on dealers. Owners become more familiar with their vehicles as they own and operate them, the dealers should be familiar with them from the beginning and start the buyer off on the right foot.
Not to ream on Ford, but the salesmen at the time weren't touting the benefits of some of there unique diesel options and instead seemed to bury them.
Ford dealer service personal at nearly all of the half dozen dealerships I spoke to couldn't tell me the approximate oil change intervals or cost of oil changes on the Ford Diesel Transit (T-350). One dealer guessed around 5,000-7,000 miles between oil changes.
I tried to find out if dual sliding doors were available on the T-350 diesel, but that was not fruitful either. The brochure said yes they are, the dealer said no they were not, the manufacturer over the phone said yes and then they weren't certain. My conclusion was that they were not available on the diesel T-350's, although they strangely were an option on the gasoline fed models.
So, even if you are a knowledgable consumer trying to calculate the cost of ownership and features before making a commitment, it can be rather frustrating and fruitless. With Ford I have to say that the problem ran all the way to the top, not just the dealers. Even when I was trying to figure out options available, as I was trying to configure having a van made to my specifications, I learned that the sales brochure did not match what my dealer said was true and didn't match what the manufacturer directly was telling me, with various calls. ----------------------------------------
This, in my opinion is one reason why people end up with vehicles that do not suit their needs best and why many diesel vehicle owners are not informed on what they should be doing to keep their clean diesel running for the long term. If the people selling the vehicles are ill informed, it creates problems for everyone involved.
Diesels are easy to maintain, everyone needs to spend abit more effort knowing the Deadly Sins of Diesel Owner Carelessness.
1. Use B-5 diesel fuel, even if your rig is designed to accept B-20. This is even more important if your vehicle isn't driven much or is driven mostly in city. Bio Diesel soaks up water, while its still at the fuel station tank or while it sits in your vehicle tank, water is not good. This can cause mold to grow on the inside of your tank and fuel system, obviously not good. B-20 can also require more frequent oil changes, as it may contaminate your oil. The extra maintenance isn't worth the savings.
2. Diesels are made for the highway and freeway cruising, especially clean diesel engines. If you buy one, its best that you use it for its purpose, as the emissions system needs to burn off the gunk inside it. On the same token, try not to idle the engine longer than a few minutes.
3. Don't cheat the Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF). Use good quality DEF and make sure it goes into the DEF tank, NOT into the fuel tank. Never add anything to the DEF tank, except DEF. This fluid is designed to freeze and thaw without issues related to its concentration.
4. Do not cover the engine grill with blankets (in the winter) or with bug or rock netting. It seems like a good idea, however it does muck up the vehicle's ability to accurately gather temperature readings, which can cause problems with how emissions are controlled, among other issues.
5. On cold winter days or nights it is best to keep your tank full, to avoid added water in the fuel.
6. Follow the manufacturer's maintenance schedule, at the very least.
7. Many professionals say to add some Cetane additive to the fuel tank in your diesel if it doesn't start or run like it should. It's a cheap fix that has proven to begood for your diesel and isn't expensive.