Helping you get better gas mileage, save money on fuel, find more efficient cars, and be kinder to the environment.


Updated Automatically on February 25th, 2009
better gas mileage

Have you heard about the midsize sedan that’s rated for 38 MPG on the highway? How about the performance luxury sedan rated for 37 on the highway and can drive over 750 miles on a tank? Maybe the 10 cylinder SUV rated at 23/highway? You MUST have heard about the small sedan that’s rated for 46 MPG on the highway, right? No? They’re not hybrids, they’re the secret nobody talks about: Diesels!

Forget about the lousy job car manufacturers did of converting gas models and engines into diesels during the 1970s energy crisis. If you remember anything about diesels from that era, remember the Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel. It was noisy and a little smoky, but it was incredibly reliable and a light-footed driver could easily exceed 50 MPG and sometimes even 60 MPG in them!

Now fast-forward thirty years. Remember, gasoline mileage has slowly been slipping for several years. But diesels have been getting better and better. No more rattling engine. No more clouds of black smoke. No more weak performance. Diesel fuel has gotten cleaner, diesel reliability has gotten even better, diesel mileage rivals and often exceeds hybrids, and performance is outstanding.

So why are diesels such a secret? Why aren’t more people driving diesel cars that get 30-40% better mileage than gas cars? Why are the sales of new diesel cars banned in some states?

Two words: Kyoto Treaty.

The Kyoto Treaty mandates the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and it has been signed by over 140 countries. The only major country not to sign is the United States. By refusing to sign the Kyoto Protocols, the United States is not bound by the treaty. That means that the EPA pollution standards for cars don’t include greenhouse emissions. Diesels have better emissions than gas engines in some areas the EPA measures and worse emissions in other areas. Overall, by U.S. measurement standards, the higher Nitrogen Oxide and particulate emissions of diesels mean that they’re classified as higher pollution cars than gasoline-powered cars. For that reason, some states have banned the sale of new diesels.

But take the same diesel vehicles to Europe where the Kyoto Protocols apply and they’re considered much more environmentally friendly than gasoline-powered cars and trucks! Diesels have much lower greenhouse gas emissions than gas engines. That probably explains why 40-50% of the passenger vehicles in Europe are diesel powered while less than 1% of U.S. passenger vehicles are diesels and very few new diesel models are available in the U.S. — mostly Volkswagens and Mercedes for cars, with a few manufacturers offering trucks.

But there is hope that high-mileage diesel cars could become more common in the States. Diesel engine design continues to advance and new designs may hold the promise of much lower NOx and particulate emissions. Diesel fuel standards are evolving and the fuels are being made with lower sulfur to burn cleaner and allow the addition of pollution control devices on diesel vehicles. And perhaps the most promising is biodiesel fuel made from vegetable oil (Rudolf Diesel’s original engine ran on peanut oil) that is already available in most states and is being used in current diesel vehicles with dramatically lower emissions than existing petroleum diesel fuel.

Biodiesel is a renewable fuel that can be made from many different vegetable crops. Some intrepid homesteaders are even making their own biodiesel using waste vegetable oil from restaurants and a couple of common chemicals to create clean-burning fuel for their diesel vehicles.

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Updated Automatically on February 25th, 2009
better gas mileage

4 Responses to “The High Mileage Secret Nobody Talks About”

    I didn’t know that about the diesel engines. I remember the days of crappy diesel cars, hastily converted by American car makers and others to take advantage of the anxieties of the day. Sure seemed junky then.

    It’s surprising what can affect your gas mileage. I wrote a post “Surprising Ways to Get Better Gas Mileage” at:

    Have a look and let me know what you think.

    Keep on blogging!

    I liked your post. And you made me discover, seems to be a great website !

    I own a 1998 f250 deseil pickup. I average 18 miles in the city and over 20 on the highway. Its very reliable and I have had no problems. The same truck with a gas engine gets horrible mileage (less than 12 mpg). Originally, I was looking to buy a ford ranger or a light duty F-150 with a smaller diesel engine for better mileage but found that all of the ford rangers were over 20 miles to the gallon no matter what size engine. Dont know why ford does not offer a diesel ford ranger or a light duty deisel f-150 as I would buy one.

    For now, there is no reason to get rid of my ford f250 diesel as no manufacturer offers an alternative pickup with significantly higher mileage no matter what the size unless I move to Europe.

    I had owned a F250 diesel for 5 years & in the fl.keys after several hurricanes a few years ago & having trouble getting fuel after one of the storms. We started out using one of my tanks with a 50/50 mixture but very shortly switch over to 100% vegie oil from one of the recycle fry oil tanks outside of a near by restaurant . for several years I was able to run my truck for free other than a few motor oil changes. I didn’t change a thing about my stock truck 1989 F 250 diesel. but did notice after a year or so I began leaking from the fuel line hoes in several spots. When I sold my truck about a year ago I had ran it for about 3 years. my mileage would have been about 10-14 MPG of 100% used vegie oil . & other than insurance & regaurlar motor oil changes & tires I drove 50,000 for free.

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