Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Steve asks: Eric, you have clearly stated your position that turbocharging an everyday car is a bad practice because it increases the stresses on many engine components and thereby reduces the engine life. My question: is this also true of diesels? It seems to me that a diesel engine is inherently a sturdy beast and was designed from the get-go to be turbocharged, so the boost shouldn’t be detrimental to the longevity of the engine. Agree? I own a 2015 VW Golf Sportwagen TDI, so the question is not just academic to me.
My reply: Yes, agreed! And here’s why: It’s not just that diesel engines are built tougher – use heavier duty blocks and other components. It is because they are diesels and they operate differently than a gas-burning (and spark-ignition) engine. They are low-RPM engines (most “redline” well before 4,500 RPM and most rarely need to be revved much beyond 3,500 RPM. Gas engines routinely rev twice as fast – and often. This multiplies the force applied to the reciprocating assembly.
Diesels also burn diesel, which is both a fuel and a lubricant, unlike gas – which is a fuel and a solvent. Gas washes lubrication off of wear-critical parts; diesel helps keep them from wearing.
Diesels usually last much longer than gas-burning engines. I would expect the same to be the case with your VW TDI!
Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
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