How many miles should a Volkswagen TDI be expected to go?

Posted By on February 6, 2009

VW TDI ALH enginePeople often ask me what make a diesel car attractive enough that one would be willing to not only pay the couple thousand premium on the sticker, but find fewer marketing promotions at dealerships? I’ll usually point to the solid resale and better fuel economy, which is usually a topic of conversation at our GTGs. But, a couple days ago I was reminded when reading an automotive question and answer section in the newspaper that diesel owners also expect longer service from their engines. Jonathan Welsh of the Wall Street Journal hints when discussing a VW TDI that getting “300,000 miles is a reasonable goal, though some diesel fans would say it’s merely a starting point.”

Q: I am classified as an extreme commuter, typically driving 50,000-plus miles per year. I
purchased my VW diesel new with the intention of turning it over to my kids at school. The car has been maintained on schedule for all parts.

This is my first diesel automobile. What type of mileage could/should I expect from a diesel motor?
–Vincent J. McMahon
Louisville, Ky.

You did a nice job of matching the vehicle to the mission. Diesels perform especially well in highway driving, and as a high-mileage driver you will also sooner recoup the extra cost of the diesel over a similar gasoline-powered model. Diesels generally are more durable and capable of racking up more miles with less fuss than gasoline engines. So 300,000 miles is a reasonable goal, though some diesel fans would say it’s merely a starting point.

It is also worth noting that many drivers have enjoyed similar endurance from well-maintained gasoline-powered cars.

LINK – WSJ 2/3/2009


  • jimbreen

    Still the price and availability of diesel fuel could be a problem. I think diesel is still more costly than the difference in fuel economy?

  • Jim,

    Availability has never been an issue for me … its a worry of the past. (besides getting 600-700 miles per tank is pretty nice)

    As for the cost … I worked the numbers using the neighborhood prices for fuel today which put diesel at a 23% premium to regular gasoline (many of today’s Euro Sport models use premium?) Anyway, taking 2009 VW Jetta TDI (41/30 mpg) to the 2009 Jetta (4 cylinder – 29/22 mpg) the fuel difference for every mile drive, splitting 50/50 – highway/city, still goes to the TDI even with higher fuel costs — by 17% no less.

    That said, with fuel prices at today’s lower levels, I can see you’re point IF fuel efficiency is your only concern. On the other hand, when yearly fuel costs for car owners double, that 17% difference for every mile make a big difference.

    Back to the point of ‘longevity and resale value.’ — the VW TDI will hold onto a significant portion of its original value where the gasoline powered car does not. I plugged in two 6 year old VW Jetta’s with the exact mileage (120,000) and equipment, but ended up with significantly different resale prices: Gas – $8005 vs. Diesel TDI – $12,255.

    Conclusion: Saving a few hundred dollars on fuel every year is small change compared to saving $4000+ when it comes time to sell … besides I really enjoy driving a car with more ‘torque’ since most of my driving is not at high rpms.

  • Judge N. Jury

    and now years later… Diesel is cheap! Go Figure?

Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
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