Target audience: This blog post is aimed at the general buying public who might be considering a change to a diesel powered car. It would be suitable for a general consumer information site or for a more specialised automotive site where a person looking for information on diesel engine cars might find it.
Diesel Deceit – modern diesel engines have been promoted as having outstanding fuel economy combined with low emissions. The advent of turbocharging and modern electronic engine management systems has allowed these engines to be become more user friendly – but should you believe the hype?
One reason diesel engines have been touted as having low emissions is because of the decision for European (EU) countries to tax petrol engines more heavily in a bid to reduce carbon dioxide levels (probably the best known “Greenhouse” gas). Whilst diesels may produce lower levels of carbon dioxide they tend to produce much higher levels of nitrogen oxides. Nitrogen oxides can cause or exacerbate a number of health conditions, such as inflammation of the lungs, asthma and bronchitis; increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes, and lower birth weight and smaller head circumference in babies. Tests conducted by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) show that modern diesel cars emit on average seven times the EU limit for nitrogen oxides. Why? Because the limits are determined by tests done under laboratories conditions and do not reflect real world driving. And that’s without “cheating” software in the case of Volkswagen. But it gets worse.
In June 2012 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) updated the diesel engine exhaust classification from probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A) to carcinogenic to humans (Group 1). This is mostly due to particulates that are emitted in diesel exhaust and whilst most modern diesels have effective particulate filters, maintaining them can be difficult and\or expensive depending on the type of driving you do. Many owners have been known to remove them as a cost saving measure.
Finally, if that doesn’t put you off there is the handling of the fuel itself – it’s sticky and greasy, the smell won’t even wash off readily and it gets on your shoes. It really is on the nasty side!