Why Diesel Owners Are Being Hit With Massive Bills

A special investigation in Australia’s leading motoring publication WHEELS has found hundreds-of-thousands of motorists are facing potential massive bills, sometimes exceeding $10,000 at a time (or even a third of the value of the vehicle), because they haven’t been properly informed about how to drive and manage their cars.

The issue centres on diesel vehicles, which represent one-in-five new cars on our roads, and the wear and tear of stop-start city driving, when combined with the technology being used to meet modern-day emissions standards.

“There is a serious disconnect between the manufacturer’s claims on the so-called ‘lifetime’ durability of their emissions components and systems, plus drivers simply aren’t being given enough clear information about how to best drive and maintain their vehicles,” notes Wheels editor Alex Inwood.

“At best it could be argued that the driving conditions in Europe, where many of these vehicles come from, are vastly different to our own – but that’s simply not good enough. Aussie motorists are being smashed with massive bills for recommendations buried in the fine print of their manuals, or not mentioned at all. Our new car owners are not being properly informed, and are driving themselves into massive debt.”


 One-in-five new vehicles on our roads are diesel powered, with sales rocketing by 57-percent across the past decade. Unfortunately, repair bills are also rocketing – brought about by a series of factors surrounding tighter emissions controls (including fuel changes and extremely expensive particulate filters), but all underpinned by a lack of clear ‘up front’ advice to owners on driving and managing their cars.

 Many manufacturers are refusing warranty claims on expensive filter components (with repairs costing well beyond $10,000 in some instances) because of what has been described as ‘owner abuse’ – for failing to read the fine print in the manual. Ultimately, city drivers are expected to get their filters up to blast furnace effectiveness by having a ‘hot run’ every week, at freeway speeds and under load for at least 20 minutes. Stop-start driving around town only clogs up the filters.

 Oils ain’t oils, and diesel owners are expected to be putting exactly the right type into their car. Fully synthetic, low-ash oils are essential for vehicles fitted with particulate filters – but what works for a BMW may not be right for a Nissan.

 The report explores the other problems being caused by emissions controls in diesel engines, the use of urea to try and flush out the oxide build-ups, the political pressures building on diesel manufacture, and what the leading car companies have to say (or not say) about the maintenance bills confronting their Australian customers.

Full details appear in the latest issue of WHEELS: