Diesel vs Gas

Posted by John on November 8th, 2012

Hey guys!  Hope everyone is enjoying the week so far.  If you’re in the Northeast like us, I hope you’re surviving the worst week and a half of weather I’ve ever seen in November, ever.  Terrible!  Have I ever told you how much I hate the cold?  I used to love it when I was a kid.  Now I want to move to Florida.  Is it weird that I appreciate and even envy the life-choices of our senior population at the young age of 33?  Retirement?  Yes, please.  Florida?  I’d love to.

In other news, we bought a car.  We picked up a Jetta from a local dealer and we’re digging it.  Sweet ride.  We ended up buying a regular gas engine and skipping the TDI, but I have to admit, that diesel engine was tempting.  I actually made a video that illustrates the basic nerd enhanced analysis I performed to see if the fuel savings from diesel vs gas  would be worth the extra sticker price.  Alas, it wasn’t even close.  If you’ve never used Excel before and want to pick up some basic skills or just see how to figure out your own gas mileage, then check out the video.  Or if you just want to hear a nerd rant on about his daily commute, check. it. out.

I thought I would miss my Grand Cherokee a little by now.  Definitely not. I went from 15/20 mpg to 24/32 mpg.  Big fan.  Big fan.

I’m hoping to finish up the painting on our garage shoe rack, but I’m not holding my breath.  This weather cycle is “spray paint in the garage” prohibitive.  Bummer.  Lisa and I are planning some serious work over the Christmas break, so soon after we finish up that shelf, I’ll be back to planning mode.  We’re still trying to figure out if we want to work on the office or maybe start finishing the basement.  We’ll see.

What are you all working on at the moment?


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  • Diesel cars are pretty common here, since diesel is cheaper than gas (or at least, it used to be until not too long ago) and has better mileage. Our car is TDI! Well, I never drive it but anyway.

    Also, I've been meaning to tell you, I've had some issues with the comment form lately. Sometimes it won't let me place the cursor in it to comment! Not sure why…

    • John_OHFScratch

      Diesel is slightly more expensive here, probably due to the higher supply of gas available. If diesel was cheaper than gas, we would've definitely bought a TDI.

      Comments acting weird is news to me. Hmm. I may have to make some changes to our comment plugin. Thanks for the info!!

  • jan

    Before I retired, I worked on the development of diesel engines for one of the big auto companies. You made the correct choice. Diesel is really only beneficial if you need to tow. Daily drivers….no.

    Diesels also have their own quirks.

    Gas engines have come a long way. In the past, a 4 banger might give you OK mileage but no power (torque). That's all changed. I actually drive a 4 cylinder that beats advertised mileage and I have plenty of power (torque).

    • John_OHFScratch

      That's interesting about diesels. I know there have been major improvements in gasoline engines, but I never thought of diesels as ideal for towing.

  • Don

    I found your website from a link on OneProjectCloser.com, via this route:

    Anyway… couple of questions.

    1. What program are you using to record your screen while talking? I'm a data analyst and work with Excel all day, but need to make training tools.
    2. Using your Excel knowledge, why not account for the list price of each type of vehicle, then project over expected miles driven your guess about how long you would keep the care. An extra 100k miles for about $1200-1500 more seems like a good investment, especially if you are spending less for fuel.
    3. I've been thinking about a Jetta Sportwagon for about a year now. How's the comfort of a VW? Have to confess, my last VW was a 71 Super Beetle, and the few times I've been in a modern VW it seemed to me the seating was hard as a rock.

    I've been all over this world and have to say that the U.S. probably is the (per-capita) the smallest user of diesel engines in passenger cars. Now the BIG-3 have excellent diesel trucks, but we should catch up on passenger cars once the public gets over the stigma of diesel, plus the false lure of horsepower ratings.

    Good post, and really like your projects!

    P.S. Think about doing more videos, you seem to be good at it.

    • John_OHFScratch

      Hey Don! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      1. I actually used a website called screencast-o-matic.com. It was quick and super easy to use. The best part is it's free. The only draw back is they put a small watermark on the bottom corner, but I can live with that.
      2. Good point about the mileage. You may be better off projecting the cost over the life of the car instead of just a few years. If you keep a diesel for 200,000 miles, it will certainly pay for itself. Mainly I was making the video to show the process in Excel, but, yes, I certainly could've elaborated on that point.
      3. The comfort level in my Jetta is fine. The seats probable are a bit firmer than most cars I've been in. I have 2 or 3 co-workers that own the Sportwagon and they absolutely love it. They were trying to talk me into it as well, but I prefer the look of the sedan.

      I think the US would be better off if we started transitioning away from gasoline engines, although our "greenies" here might have a fit. The perception among a lot of enviro types is they're a bigger polluter.

      Thanks for the encouragement on the videos!