Thursday, April 14, 2016

10 Things to Love about Diesel BOV

So I had my diesel Honda CR-V for a couple months now. After a few days of getting used to it, I can say I now love the thing.
1)Stupid amounts of torque. 251 lb-ft, which is 90 lb-ft more than the gasoline version of the CR-V. On 1st gear, without touching the gas pedal (sorry, diesel pedal) it crawls up a steep hill on its own. It also has much better towing capacity in case you want to bring more stuff along with you. For the kind of off road capability you may be looking for in a BOV, where you want to crawl slowly but steadily through off road terrain, and then get yourself on better roads as soon as you can, diesel works great.
2)Cheap to drive. Diesel is itself cheaper than gasoline and it's more efficient when it comes to MPG. I haven’t done the math but savings of about 30 to 40% are about right.
3)Much safer fuel, both during car accidents and storage. Its not flammable like gasoline. An ignited match thrown into a glass of diesel gets extinguished while gasoline blows up. For someone into survivalism it is much safer to store diesel than gasoline. Diesel fuel does not evaporate as easily as gasoline, so it is much safer in accidents too.
4)Diesel lasts much longer than gasoline when stored. You don’t need to rotate your fuel storage nearly as often.
5)Diesel engines are more rugged, reliable and have a longer lifespan.
6)More range. Given how efficient diesel is it can go more miles per gallon. During an emergency this is a key aspect sometimes overlooked in favour of offroad capability and engine size. When all you have to work with is whatever is left in your fuel tank, MPG matters a great deal.
7)No more sparkplugs. Sure, you have glowplugs instead, but those last much longer and are less likely to have issues.
8)Diesel smells better. I at least like it better although I guess its personal taste.
9)Fuel options during SHTF. Around here every gas station that has gas has diesel as well one right next to the other, but beyond that there’s a number of other options as well if you have to get creative, from mixing it with a bit of vegetable oil to white spirits, using kerosene or heating oil. You don’t want to do this often and you sure have to check before trying how much you can push the limits with each specific diesel engine, but it sure is more tolerant than gasoline ones. Navy, Army, Marines and NATO allies, they all use diesel (JP-8). You can use commercial aviation Jet A-1 fuel in your diesel. Tanks? Yes, diesel as well.
10)Turbodiesel. Ahh! It’s nice to hear the engine road when you step on the gas, but hearing the soft whistling sound made by the turbocharger when driving is freaking awesome.
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.


Anonymous said...

I agree with most of what you say, although I am less confident than you when it comes to diluting diesel. In the old days you could certainly do that. But modern common-rail diesels use piezoelectric injectors. They give performance that starts to rival a gasolene engine but they are quite fastidious about the formulation of their fuel.

Which is why I own two diesels: one modern and fast, and the other so old that it would probably burn coal if I could powder it fine enough! Plan B.

Anonymous said...

One or two comments. First, during several hurricane episodes on the Gulf of Mexico coastline, gasoline sold out, but most stations still had diesel. There are a lot more gasoline cars and trucks than diesel. Second, while you can use JetA or JP series fuels in a diesel, you need to add oil. For a thirty gallon tank it takes 1 quart US of motor oil. The cheapest is just fine. I knew two old gents that got a contract to remove and dispose of jet fuel from a airport. They must "sump" their storage tanks each day and cannot add it back into the tank if no water is present. These two guys would collect it and use filtered motor oil added to each tank they filled. Both Ford diesels lasted for over 500,000 miles without problems. Enjoy your new digs! Ken

Anonymous said...

Hi FerFAL,

With all those benefits you get some drawbacks as well:
- In everyday city usage (short but frequent trips) the diesel can barely heat up, you have to 'burn out the soot' by driving some 100kms on a highway every month.
- Diesel engines are less dynamic, they respond a bit slower. Modern turbochargers make this almost unnoticeable, but that is another component whose servicing is expensive, requires high-tech parts and trustworthy service people and cannot be done by yourself.
- Fuel injectors and the high-pressure pump needs to be replaced after 2-300000kms, and that will cost about 1/3 of the price of the car at that time. Add this expense in the long-term price-of-operation calculations and so it's not that cheaper than gasoline engines.
- Injector diesel engines (that is, all in personal cars) are quite pesky for the fuel filter, the slightest sludge or dust can literally ruin the injectors. Avoid cheap copies and use only originals, but you still have to fully trust your service people.
- Add a liter of water to a full tank of diesel fuel, the engine will still start and run, but as the water vapor condenses in the high-pressure pump overnight, it'll cause a micrometer-thick rusting, but that's just enough to send your pump to the scrapyard. (And as you try to start the engine, the injectors as well.)
You don't need explicite sabotage for this, it is enough to buy fuel at a station whose underground storage tanks are almost empty, as the water sinks to the bottom of those tanks.

In fact, the diesel engines are superior when you operate them on near-constant load for long and continuous
time, gasoline engines are superior in shorter trips that have frequent spin-ups and slow-downs.

In case of utility and military vehicles the type of usage is mostly this long-term constant load, as it is when you drive mostly out of cities and you make longer trips (>2-300km).

As of the servicing, the diesel engines used by militaries are usually the simpler ones: no turbocharger, sometimes not even injectors, and don't forget that they have their own servicepeople who can be held accountable for the quality of their work.

In the current 1st-world countries a diesel engine may be a good option for a personal car, but in a less-than-optimal economy I wouldn't recommend it.

Sean said...

Sadly we don't have many diesel cars or suvs here in the states, and after the whole VW ordeal I doubt we'll see any in the coming years.

B said...

Yeah, I wish we could get decent diesels here in the US. I have a diesel truck, but small car sized diesels are, for all intents and purposes, banned by the EPA here in the states.

Loneviking said...

Yeah, we'll see how well you like that diesel when you have to replace the fuel pump. I had a '96 VW Passat diesel that got great mileage, lots of torque. But, the low sulfer content in the US diesel killed two fuel pumps. A rebuilt fuel pump costs $1500. I'm driving a Subaru gas car now and it gets about 40 mpg highway. Not as good as the 50 I got for the diesel, but maintenance is a lot less.

Professor Diabolical said...

Disagree with Anonymous:

Diesels are cheaper to run (not buy), have a higher resale value, can last twice as long, are stronger and more fun to drive, and have no real additional problems over gasoline/petrol. I have not found you need to drive them 1,000 highway miles or anything special.

For the high-tech issues, the newest ones remain to be explored but the early to mid-tech engines are indeed more robust, can burn a wider variety of fuels including heating and vegetable oil, and last longer despite poor care and abuse. The filters are not treated differently from gasoline and don't require any special parts, experience, or expense to buy. The high-pressure pumps and injectors are indeed expensive and fussy, but last forever --longer than timing belts--and are hardly worse than repairing an automatic transmission. That is, you send it to an expert, they send it back a few days later like new. This is in trade-off for having no spark system, coils, wires, to fail and better economy and more power every day.

Other than that, you will use synthetic oil (for the turbo), but these things, the computers, the special oils, high-tech parts are true of all modern cars, diesel or gas, and are no obstacle.

This is one of those Microsoft/Apple discussions, but given a choice of cars within a $1k difference, I'd always choose the diesel.