Are modern diesel cars really so prone to faults?

As a regular reader of your column in ‘Motoring’ in the Telegraph I am concerned about your comments, on a regular basis, about ownership of diesel-powered vehicles. I own a 2009 Mark 6 VW Golf with the 1.9 common rail diesel, have done just over 23,000 miles and it has been regularly serviced. You imply in your column that once a diesel gets to three years old it is scrap, or at best going to cost £6500 to keep it on the road. Are you really saying that if I buy an £18,000 Golf, Audi or Astra or similar diesel-powered car that the manufacturers know it will cost me a fortune once it is three years old?

Is there a direct injection/common rail petrol engine that gives the torque, reliability and economy of the diesel plus the low carbon print?

Asked on 3 March 2012 by RY, Peterborough

Answered by Honest John
I sit here and receive around 100 emails and ‘Ask HJs’ every day of the year, so I probably know better than anyone else in the country what goes wrong with cars. And over the past few years I have been greatly disturbed by accounts of what goes wrong with diesels saddled with DMFs, DPFs, EGRs as well at turbos and timing belts. Volkswagen actually schedules a timing belt change for your engine at four years, so that will be £350 - £500, thank you very much, even assuming nothing else goes wrong.

The alternative in a VAG car is a modern, chain cam 1.2TSI 105 or 1.4TSI 122 petrol engine. They are much more pleasant to drive than a diesel, but, of course, do not deliver the same fuel economy. The one diesel engine that seems to have the potential problem areas designed out it is Renault's new 1.6DCI 130, as fitted to the Scenic and the Qashqai, but only time will tell.
Similar questions
I have driven Volvos with tremendous satisfaction since 1970, currently a V70 diesel estate, but now at 82 I am finding it difficult to get in and out of, mainly due to the low profile of modern cars these...
I am driving a 2005 Volkswagen Touran 1.9 TDI that I have owned from new. It has done almost 115,000 miles (about 80 per cent of which was cruising on motorways) and never let me down. It returns a consistent...
I live in the countryside and drive 250 miles a week to the office and back, mostly on B-roads, and also use the car for the usual things, including travelling by motorway to visit friends around the country,...
Related models
Comfortable and quiet on the move, enjoyable to drive. Nicely trimmed with great attention to detail. 1.4 TSI sweeter to drive than a diesel.

Value my car