Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - blimp
Hello, I need some advice - I'm looking for a replacement for my until recently trusty '90 309 GRDTurbo, and have up to £5k to spend.

I have been looking, and liking, 02-04ish SEAT Leon's and Skoda Octavia's 110 TDis, and considering a Focus TDCI, but just when I think I have found something, I get cold feet with regards to the various problems that might befall my potential purchase. Namely dodgy ECUs on the VAG 110 diesels, Octavia gearboxes that are 'fragile' and the dreaded dual mass flywheel issues that seem to afflict many newer diesels.

Can anyone shed any light on the chances and/or frequency of any of these problems? Does anyone have any decent alternatives to my short shortlist?

I am looking to avoid the French stuff, as their reliability has appeared to be pretty poor in recent years.

Tks.
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - tawse
I know nothing about the reliability of diesels or what to look for other than what I read. A friend bought a 4 yar old diesel Leon last year and she is highly satisified with it and says it is great to drive and very economical.
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - NowWheels
Does anyone have any decent alternatives to my short shortlist?


For alternatives, start looking at some petrol-engined cars.

When your Pug309 was made, diesels were the smart buy, particularly with that good Peugeot engine. Great performance, excellent fuel economy, and low maintenance with not much to go wrong.

The new diesels have utterly abandoned the mechanical simplicity of your old Peugeot. They are great to drive, but there are some very expensive components waiting to go wrong and present you with big bills.

If you want to run a car out of warranty, then a petrol engine makes more sense unless you are doing huge mileage.
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - tawse
The new diesels have utterly abandoned the mechanical simplicity of your old Peugeot. They are
great to drive but there are some very expensive components waiting to go wrong and
present you with big bills.
If you want to run a car out of warranty then a petrol engine makes
more sense unless you are doing huge mileage.


I have to admit, since joining this forum, that it has been an eye opener for me about the problems with new common rail, is that right, diesel engines. I just assumed a diesel engine was a diesel engine and that, as always, they would run forever, never break down and you could put just about anything into them to make them go.

After reading posts on here about them, and HJ's FAQ about diesel repair costs, I would be scared stiff of buying a modern diesel engine as it seems just one repair bill could cost you a thousand pounds or more. In fact, as I normally keep cars until they die, I would be loathe to buy a new one as warranties only last about 3 years.
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - gordonbennet
I know many people who swear by their 1.9 seat/vw/skoda engines, these do seem to be very good provided they have been serviced properly with the correct oil and the all important cambelt change has been done, having said that my mate's passat's turbo has just gone, but he's got it reconditioned for £400, not too bad in the great scheme of things. My lad's toledo 110 goes well and returns good economy and has been no trouble at all.

Toyota diesels are often overlooked and are very reliable, try buying a used avensis diesel, not a hope in hell as mini cabbers buy them all, our phone never stopped ringing when i advertised mine, but it does leave the corolla diesels as they are a little too small for taxi work. The rest of the car is equally robust too. (incidentally the taxi owners who came hundreds of miles to look at the car will run nothing else except for the 1.9 skoda's, and taxi owners know a thing or two about reliable vehicles, i looked it up on the net and its still on the road some 4 or more years later)

Otherwise i must add myself to the list of those unsure anymore about buying a used common rail diesel car, and judging by the amount of posts here concerning misfuelling and the AA now seem to have a large fleet of specially equipped vans driving round hoovering misfuellers tanks out, i would be very wary unless coming from a proven source.
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - tawse
Otherwise i must add myself to the list of those unsure anymore about buying a
used common rail diesel car and judging by the amount of posts here concerning misfuelling
and the AA now seem to have a large fleet of specially equipped vans driving
round hoovering misfuellers tanks out i would be very wary unless coming from a proven
source.


That is an additional concern that had not crossed my mind.
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - craig-pd130

The VAG 110bhp diesel is very reliable, literally millions of cars with that engine.

It's also mush more immune to misfuelling than common-rail engines as its fuel pump doesn't run at the astronomical pressures that modern variants do.
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - legacylad
A friend of mine has a P reg A4 avant Tdi 110. Mileage somewhere around 145k. Never had a minutes bother with it, and probably can be bought for much less than £5k!.
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - 659FBE
The fuel pressures generated by the VAG PD system are in fact higher than almost all common rail systems - approaching 2,000 Bar or 30,000 PSI. This is why, unfettered by a DPF, the 1.9 PD engine is about the most efficient unit ever produced.

The big difference between the systems is that only the PD (unit injector) design uses engine oil rather than fuel to lubricate the highly stressed cam and roller follower which produces the linear motion required (in any diesel) to compress the fuel. This both enhances longevity given correct maintenance and makes the system far less likely to fail catastrophically due to poor fuel lubricity. Resistance to misfuelling damage is also higher, although there is understandably a lack of controlled experimental results for this.

Find a 1.9 litre VAG PD engine (in whatever body/badge suits you) which has been operated with the correct engine oil, observe the belt change regimen recommended and you are unlikely to be disatisfied with it.

659.

Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - Pugugly
Thanks that's one of the most informative posts about any engine I've read in a long time on here. I have to admit the one in my Roomie is a gem now its beginning to be run in a bit.

Albeit a damn site more clattery than anything that BMW ever made other than an oil starved boxer on a 1942 R75 !

Edited by Pugugly on 22/09/2008 at 00:04

Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - Avant
In that case the same should apply to the 2.0 PD engine - like mine - but there have been threads on this forum saying it can give trouble at high mileages. Anyone care to comment?
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - 659FBE
There are several different versions of the 2 litre PD, some 8 valve, some 16 valve, some with gear driven balancer shafts some with chain driven balancer shafts and yet others with DPFs.

All of these "enhancements" seem to have caused trouble (maybe the development team were working on the common rail replacement engines and the PD modifications were left to the apprentice).

It would take some time to list and analyse the failure modes of the 2 litre engines as they vary a lot with build, but the chain driven balancer shaft engines appear to be the worst. Chains don't like the torsional oscillations caused by the weighted shafts - on the 1.9, the chain just drives a nice smooth oil pump. The twin cam head appears to have problems with the followers for the valve cams and the belt layout is less favourable.

A full pattern of 2 litre problems is probably still emerging but the DPF fitment puts it in the "not wanted at any price" category for me.

659.
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - Avant
Many thanks - superb, if I may say so!

At least you can have the 140 bhp engine without a DPF. I'm all for this sort of thing but not if it makes the engine unreliable; it seems to have been the one fly in the ointment of Autocar's otherwise excellent long-term Octavia vRS diesel (last week's edition).
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - SuperBuyer
VW Bora 130 - probably available for about £4K as a 2005 one company owner, mileage around 100K, full VW service history from your nearest auction?

The prospect of replacing my 2004 Golf 150bhp PD (with a spritely 143K on the clock) with a 'modern' diesel engine scares me somewhat....
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - tawse
The prospect of replacing my 2004 Golf 150bhp PD (with a spritely 143K on the
clock) with a 'modern' diesel engine scares me somewhat....


That's an interesting comment SB from a current diesel engine owner. It is worrying enough for us petrol people weighing up the pros and cons of a modern diesel but when I hear current diesel owners being concerned that is most enlightening.
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - Mapmaker
If you must buy a diesel in that price range (i.e. not brand new with full warranty), pay max £500 for an XUD engine in a Peugeot 406 and run it on vegetable oil.
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - oldnotbold
Just make sure that any XUD engined car has a Bosch injector pump, not the Lucas variety - they were fitted almost randomly. Very late 405s are almost always Lucas.
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - 659FBE
I absolutely agree. Don't run it on veg oil, stick to the specified fuel. (My partner has a 140k mile Bosch equipped TUD with a completely untouched fuel system other than for maintenance items).

Wonderful as the Bosch fuelled XUD and TUD PSA engines were, the VAG PD is in a totally different league in terms of the performance/economy quotient.

There was nothing random about the fuel systems supplier for the XUDs. Ford stitched up Bosch by building HDi engines for PSA and offering them Delphi(Lucas) fuel systems at a price PSA could not resist. It was a neat deal - PSA increased their engine build capacity and got cheaper fuel injection equipment via Delphi as part of the deal (win/win). Ford got the diesel engines they so desperately needed as the Americans just "dont do" (can't do) small diesels. Pity the fuel systems were such rubbish.

659.
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - Soupytwist
I've got a 52 plate Skoda Octavia diesel with the 110hp engine and it's coming up for 112k miles. I've had it since new it used to be my company car and I bought it at the end of the lease. Nothing's gone wrong with the ECU but the alternator did break and took the auxilliary drive belt with it about 3 months after I bought it. The air con compressor also failed during warranty. Other than that it's had servicing according to the schedule and been run pretty much exclusively on supermarket diesel without problems. Tyre wear is pretty reasonable as well. If you can find one that's been properly serviced I reckon you'd have a fair amount of change from £5000, I don't think I'd get £5000 for mine!

I've also got an 02 plate SEAT Ibiza with a 100bhp PD engine. The electrical systems have been less than fantastic (alternator, air con, currently the power steering's a bit temperamental) but the engine itself has been problem free and its economy and driveability are good. Again I doubt I'd get £5000 for that, even though it's only done 48,000 miles.

I think that if you can find a well looked after example of either engine in whatever body style suits you, you won't go far wrong.

Edited by Soupytwist on 22/09/2008 at 12:49

Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - oldnotbold
" Don't run it on veg oil, stick to the specified fuel. (My partner has a 140k mile Bosch equipped TUD with a completely untouched fuel system other than for maintenance items)."

And I've got a 200k 405 TD that's done 10k on 100% waste veg oil so far this year.....

The fitting of the 306/405 XUD TDs with injector pumps from Lucas/Bosch went in batches, but I can assure you that it's not done to any pattern - I had an L 405 TD with Lucas, and now an M 405 with Bosch, but all the very late (N/P) 405s seem to be Lucas.
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - NickS
Skoda Fabia vRS. Done. Best car i have ever owned, bar none. Has everything you could ever need in a car, at a bargain price, and will cost less than peanuts to run.

Selling mine was my biggest automotive mistake to date (up there with replacing it with a Golf V6 4Motion).
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - 659FBE
I'm afraid the "running on veg oil for 200k" is akin to the 90 year old who smokes 60 cigarettes a day - it proves nothing.

Straight vegetable oil has no working specifications for engine fuel use - you might be lucky or not. Until we can genetically engineer the plants to give oil of the right cetane rating and to meet the minimum lubricity standards, (for starters) you would be better to leave it on your salad.

I was involved in the supply of some pumps to PSA. You would not see the results of various engine builds at the consumer end in any logical order because engines would go variously to Citroen, Peugeot (vans and cars) to assorted destinations depending on build specification.

659.

Edited by 659FBE on 22/09/2008 at 16:46

Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - oldnotbold
"Straight vegetable oil has no working specifications for engine fuel use - you might be lucky or not. Until we can genetically engineer the plants to give oil of the right cetane rating and to meet the minimum lubricity standards, (for starters) you would be better to leave it on your salad."

Except I bought the car for £265, and have saved of the order of £1,000 by running on veg oil. I bought my first batch of waste oil, and now collect it for free.

I'd agree if I was running a £5k car, but your reasoning/advice does not stand up in my particular situation.
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - Mapmaker
"running on veg oil for 200k" proves nothing.


Quite. When the proposed capital cost of the car is £500 and WVO is free, you only have to do about 2-3,000 miles to be at break-even (assuming car has a residual scrap value).

Who would care if the lubricity were lacking resulting in catastrophic failure?
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - oldnotbold
And bear in mind I did not go into the matter blind. There's plenty of evidence/advice/info on running XUDs on veg oil out there on the web, and it all pointed in the same direction.

There are some issues, but lubricity is not high on the list.

From Wiki on Rudolf D:

"The diesel engine has the benefit of running more fuel-efficiently than gasoline engines. Diesel was especially interested in using coal dust or vegetable oil as fuel, and his engine in fact ran on peanut oil."

Edited by oldnotbold on 22/09/2008 at 17:53

Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - blimp
Thanks for your replies - I am starting to feel a bit more positive about the diesels now.

Looking to avoid the dual mass flywheel issue, it would appear this is more an affliction of the later VAG TDIs - poss 2003 on for the Golf Vs.

Would it be fair to assume the earlier 02 cars from Skoda and SEAT wouldn't have the DMFs as they (appeared) to play second fiddle to VW and Audi in the refinement stakes. Is there anyway to tell, or a conclusive list out there on the web? I found HJs FAQ page, which only mentioned the latest Passat and Golf Vs form 03 on, so hopefully the Skoda/SEAT and even Bora's are less likely to have these dreaded flywheels.
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - 659FBE
The power units fitted to Skodas (haven't checked SEAT as vehicles not to my requirements) are identical to the corresponding VW units. So, if a VW Passat gets an AWX diesel engine with DMF, the Skoda Superb with the same power unit gets it too.

As an extreme and not fully checked generalisation, all VAG diesels with PD engines will have a DMF - it needs all the taming possible. Having said that, I have seen plenty of DMF equipped VAG cars with starship mileages on their original clutch and flywheel.

I use my Superb as a tow car and I'm considerate with the clutch - although it gets a workout when my big trailer is loaded. I think DMFs take exception to traffic light grand prix starts - which can be tempting given the torque of the PD.

659.
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - blimp
Does anyone know of a list of what VAG TDI engines are what - ie PD or not PD, DMF or no DMF - and what cars they are likely to be found in?

Trying to interpret the wikipedia pages on the Octavia and VAG TDI engines gets confusing for my little old head.

Would a 51 plate Octavia 1.9TDI Elegance have the 110 non PD, and therefore be minus the DMF?

Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - SuperBuyer
Don't get too hung up on the DMF - on a Golf its only about £650 I think, which when compared to other problems on other cars isn't too bad....

And (touch wood) so far my vehicle hasn't had it replaced in 143K (I've got the full print out and there has been nothing expensive done to it before I had it).

But to answer your question:

VAG Group Diesel Engines

90bhp non PD - Golf, Octavia
100bhp - I think this *might* be PD, but I stand to be corrected. All cars I think, especially later registrations.
110bhp non PD - Golf, Passat, Bora, Octavia
115bhp PD - Again all
130bhp PD - Again all
150bhp PD - Golf, Bora

The 51 plate Octavia would indeed have a 110bhp engine, and I think it would also have a DMF.

Have a look at these links from UK MKIVS forum (mods - are these links still allowed??) uk-mkivs.net/forums/t/173695.aspx & uk-mkivs.net/forums/p/192815/1252697.aspx#1252697
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - Pugugly
I keep meaning to double check this, but the Roomser (1.9d 105bhp) hasn't got one of these. The handbook helpfully tells you how to establish whether it has or not and equally helpfully points out that it might or might not - I think I decoded mine to read that it hasn't. WIll double check in a minute.
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - bazza
Would a 51 plate Octavia 1.9TDI Elegance have the 110 non PD, and therefore be minus the DMF?.......

The 110 Tdi is the old non PD 1.9 unit in the Octavia. I have an 03 reg 110 tdi, non-PD. The PD was introduced into the Octavia when the new shape Mk 2 came along (in 105 PD and 130 PD 1.9 format, as far as I recall)
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - Pugugly
105 bhp is a PD.
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - SuperBuyer
oh yes, the 105bhp - missed that one. We're running an A3 in the company fleet with that engine, so much as I can tell its basically a detuned version of the 150bhp lump in my golf, but definitely without the 'Go'!!

Come on then Blimp, are you going for the Octavia?
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - cheddar
>>This is why, unfettered by a DPF, the 1.9 PD engine is about the most efficient unit ever produced.>>

The PD system does not allow independant of the control of the injection timing so refinement does not match efficiency.


>>The big difference between the systems is that only the PD (unit injector) design uses engine oil rather than fuel to lubricate the highly stressed cam and roller follower which produces the linear motion required (in any diesel) to compress the fuel.>>

Though the valve train design is thus compromised because the engine was not designed for the additional unit pumps and it really does not make sense running the unit injectors from a belt driven cam(s), it simply places more stress on the cambelt.


>>Find a 1.9 litre VAG PD engine (in whatever body/badge suits you) which has been operated with the correct engine oil, observe the belt change regimen recommended and you are unlikely to be disatisfied with it.>>

Unless you have driven a contemporary Renault, Toyota, Ford, BMW, Peugeot etc diesel in which case you will find the PD a rattly and rumbly old nail ...

... hence why the latest VAG diesels are common rail.


Edited by cheddar on 23/09/2008 at 08:31

Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - DP
I can't believe the general consensus on this thread is that any diesel engine that's not a VAG PD or a quarter of a century old Peugeot design is a nail.

Of course, common rail diesels have the ability to spring crippling bills, and yes it happens, but when you consider nearly half of all new registrations are now diesel, the majority of those sold in the last 5 years are common rails, and fleets are still buying them on a repeat basis in their hundreds of thousands, they can't be that bad. I know maybe ten people with common rail diesels, a couple of which have six figure mileages on them, and not one of them has had a significant problem. My previous company is on its third batch of dCi Meganes, and reports reliability to be no better or worse than the diesels of varying makes its run for the last 20 years. The odd disaster, but generally trouble free at 100,000 miles when they come off fleet.

The biggest problem with common rail in my opinion is that the technology has clearly advanced beyond the capabilities of the staff in dealer service departments. Is this the technology's fault though? I seem to remember similar issues when the first EFI cars came along, with dealers replacing random components to fix problems, and generating unnecessarily large bills for owners. I had a petrol injected Peugeot ten years ago that the dealer was completely incapable of fixing, and on which minor faults evolved into massive and expensive (for the company) headaches.

I have nothing against the VAG PD, and indeed have been on here many times singing its praises (particularly as a 130 PS 1.9) I love its instant grunt and terrific fuel economy, but its refinement is firmly rooted in a previous era. You simply don't have to put up with clatter, vibration and rumble from a diesel any more, and a good common rail is far superior in this respect. And PD's are not fool proof. Indeed, just as a common rail can be crippled by misfuelling, look at the bill you get if you put the wrong oil in a PD. No car is idiot proof.


Edited by DP on 23/09/2008 at 09:21

Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - Alanovich
I can't believe the general consensus on this thread is that any diesel engine that's
not a VAG PD or a quarter of a century old Peugeot design is a
nail.


Quite. My family run a VW Touran PD 105 and a Fiat Stilo Multiwagon 1.9 JTD. Both are excellent units. The Fiat is slightly newer but both are fully serviced properly and neither give any trouble.

If there is a difference, the Fiat is far more refined and quiet at speed than the VW and is a more pleasant place to be when on the motorway. The VW is very noisy, even at 60/70 mph. And even when in sixth gear it feels like it needs another to quieten it down. This is a shame because the cabin of the VW affords a better driving position for longer journeys (although I find the lumbar support pathetic in the VW compared to the fantastic seats in the Fiat). If I could swap engines and driver's seats over, I would!

Why not also consider a (and I'm going to be a bit left field here) a Kia Cerato diesel? You will get an almost brand new example for under 5k, perhaps even under 4k. Really under-rated car and with very low emissions (129g). I very nearly got one instead of the Fiat, but my heart may have ruled my head as I'm a bit of an Italian car addict.
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - jase1
Why not also consider a (and I'm going to be a bit left field here)
a Kia Cerato diesel? You will get an almost brand new example for under 5k
perhaps even under 4k. Really under-rated car and with very low emissions (129g).


This raises a fair point. Is it not just certain engines that have developed an 'interesting' reputation, and that the faults are not necessarily universal?

I've not heard of any significant defects on newer VM engines such as the one in the above Kia and many other makes. Also Toyota CR engines don't seem to have a reputation.

In fact on reflection most of the problems seem to be confined mainly to dCis that have been driven in a mimsing fashion.
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - jag
alanovich, does the 105hp have enough grunt for the touran? jag.
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - 659FBE
The VAG PD system most certainly does allow the injection timing to be controlled fully by the ECU. The cams for the unit injectors are arranged to make pressurised fuel available over the whole range of fuel delivery timing required by the engine. The actual start of injection is defined when the injector solenoid is energised by the ECU - until that happens, pressurised fuel is diverted to spill. The area of compromise in the PD system is the control of pilot injection - a different thing entirely.

If it doesn't make sense running the injectors from a belt driven cam, where does the fuel pressurisation energy come from in a common rail engine? The cambelt, which drives the high pressure pump. With the PD engine, injection pressures are higher in order to increase engine efficiency so cambelt loadings are correspondingly greater.

The cylinder head was of course designed exclusively for the PD system. Some compromises were required in terms of engine valve cam widths in order to accomodate the unit injector cams. The fix was special engine oil. Use this, and there is no issue with engine longevity.

Of course, the PD is becoming history due to its expensive fuel system and lack of refinement in some areas. Don't forget the original poster's request - "Diesel for 5K". A PD engine bought in this price range with a proper history is in my view a better long term bet than a CR unit for the same money.

Remember the budget of the OP - you can't expect the ultimate in refinement for 5k but you can get high efficiency and longevity - not to be sniffed at.

659.
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - Bagpuss
Looking to avoid the dual mass flywheel issue it would appear this is more an
affliction of the later VAG TDIs - poss 2003 on for the Golf Vs.


As far as I know, VW has been fitting dual mass flywheels to diesel engined cars since the Golf 4 appeared on the market in 1997. DMFs are not new and have been used by many manufacturers on both petrol and diesel cars since the mid 80s.
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - BobbyG
Going back to the OP, my friend has just bought a 54 plate Xsara Picasso with the 1.6 diesel engine in it.

My dad, brother and friend also have this engine in their Picassos and none of them have had a single issue and all are regularly getting high 50's mpg.
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - jag
we have a 100hp bora which is pd with dmf. now on 74k and passed it's mot this am no probs. i gave it an italian tune up before i took it in for it's test, for 100hp it can shift when the loud pedal is floored. it is now worth approx £3000 as a trade in, so makes a good choice for op. jag.
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - madf
I gave up on VW diesels.. the vibration and harshness at idle drove me nuts.
(when you grow old, you are far less tolerant)
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - craig-pd130

It is true ... you can't whack the grunt and throttle response of a VAG diesel, but even their best mate would say they're rough round the edges
Diesel for 5k - avoiding a lemon - prm72
A nice Volvo S60 D5, good old lump.
 

Ask Honest John

Value my car