Do You Have to Care For a Diesel Car Differently Than a Gasoline Car?


Diesel engines may require more frequent oil changes and fuel filter changes than gasoline models, and some diesels may also require periodic replenishing of diesel exhaust fluid (urea), which reduces emissions of nitrous oxide. For the most part, though, diesels follow the same maintenance schedule as gas engines.

Volkswagen, for example, says the oil and filter should be changed every 10,000 miles on its diesel models — same as the gas versions. However, the schedule for diesels also calls for a fuel filter change every 20,000 miles. In addition, the diesels available in the Passat and Touareg need a urea tank refill every 10,000 miles (the 2.0-liter TDI engine in other models doesn't). Volkswagen provides free maintenance the first three years/36,000 miles, so the first round or two of diesel maintenance is on the house.

Porsche recommends an oil change every 10,000 miles for its gas engine, but for the 3.0-liter diesel available in the Cayenne SUV it's 5,000 miles.

Ford offers diesel V-8s in its F-250/350 heavy-duty pickups, and though oil-change intervals are the same as gas engines (10,000 miles or at least once a year), for severe driving (such as towing) Ford says to change the fuel filters on diesels every 10,000 miles as well replenish the urea.

Some Mercedes-Benz diesel models also use urea injection systems that need to be refilled every 10,000 miles.

Maintenance schedules vary by manufacturer regardless of engine type, so it's a good idea to ask to see a schedule while vehicle shopping. If the information isn't readily available from a salesperson, the dealership's service department will have it.

More Questions
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By Rick Popely | June 12, 2013 | Comments (4)


A. Non E. Mouse

Don't forget the air filter. On a diesel routine replacement of the air filter is critical. While a dirty air filter on a gas engine will result in reduced efficiency, in a diesel the air draw will remain just as strong and a very dirty filter will release its particles into the engine causing significant damage.

uk diesel driver

My Volvo V70 Diesel needs new oil once a year or every 18000 miles. Why does the oil need changing so often in the US? Is the Diesel that polluted?


Diesel is a filthy fuel that corrupts the engine oil faster than gasoline. Nobody recommends 18,000 miles between oil changes for a diesel car. The cleanest fuel is natural gas. You would rarely if ever have to change the oil in a natural gas fueled car. Of course, the best alternative is to buy an electric car, which has no oil changes.


In Europe 30000 km (18650 mi) between scheduled maintainance including oil change is common. There are even cars with intervals of up to 60000 km, depending on driving conditions.

My last diesel was meant to show up for maintainance every two years/30000 km, my new one has reduced intervals of 20000 km or every two years.

Gas engines usually require more frequent maintainance. On the other hand diesel cars are much more common in Europe anyway.

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