oops… Diesel In America: Meh

‘scheduled’ repairs WILL be needed… $5,000 to $9,000 worth

two elements that turn on intentional design decisions of the manufacturers, including VW.
I speak specifically of the decision to design fuel injection systems that have failure modes that inevitably cascade through the entire fuel system, along with emissions decisions that are utterly destructive to vehicle value.

The first rests with the use of extremely high-pressure “common rail” fuel injection. By itself this is a good system; better atomization of the fuel means better (more-complete) combustion and that leads to both more power and lower emissions, along with a more “social” (e.g. lower noise) engine. However, the decision to not isolate the high pressure pump from the rest of the fuel system in the event of a failure means that when the fuel pump fails it contaminates the entire fuel system with tiny shards of metal, requiring not just the replacement of a $1,000 pump (reasonable) but replacement of everything in the fuel system (a $5,000+ proposition) — definitely not reasonable.

In warranty this is the vehicle manufacturer’s problem. Out of warranty it’s your problem, and one that the manufacturer intentionally designed into the vehicle. This sort of crap is similar to what GM did back in the 1980s with vehicles that had spark plugs that could not be reached for replacement without removing the engine from the vehicle first!

Oh, yeah, while we’re on that let’s talk about the other related problem — the DPF. Modern diesels have a “particulate filter” for emissions reasons that is a wear item — that is, it is expected to wear out (as opposed to something that breaks such as the fuel pump.) The expected life of this device is somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000 miles.

That would be ok except that it is not reasonable to both access and replace, with the replacement cost more than being doubled ($2,000+, and perhaps as much as $4,000!) because the manufacturer combined it with the catalytic converter — which does not wear out! As a result you wind up throwing away a perfectly good catalyst because the company put both an expendable and very expensive but non-expendable device in the same case!


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