Going Diesel? Now Is the Best Time to Save on a Used Car

Chevrolet Cruze

Ready for a diesel Cruze?

With all the attention hybrid cars get, compared with diesels, I’m surprised to read that they share a fairly minuscule segment of the auto market. Hybrids have about a 2 percent share of the market, while diesels, remarkably, have less than 3.

I’ve made my case for diesels here many times. I prefer them because they are more durable, produce more torque and deliver up to 30 percent better fuel efficiency than their gasoline counterparts. If gas prices rise, and diesel doesn’t rise as much, the extra cost for diesel-powered cars will be worth it. The benefits over hybrids are their long-term durability and no worries about battery replacement.

Diesel cars are gaining in popularity, more new models are entering the market, and used models could be priced as low as they’re going to get for a while.

The Germans have sold diesels here in the States for years. Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and BMW have owned the market, but Chevrolet will soon enter with a Cruze diesel and Mazda won’t be far behind with the introduction of a new oil-burning engine. For the people who want the benefits of diesel without the higher price of buying new, the prime time to buy used is here. And it’s quickly going to pass.

A CarGurus study says that used car prices typically hit their lowest average of the year in the period between Thanksgiving and the first week of January. After that, demand increases and prices react by going back up in the New Year. According to the press release,

This year, CarGurus analysts expect prices on used cars, which have been in steady decline since peaking in late August, will bottom out by January 8, 2012, at 4.6% below their August peak, with the most dramatic dip (2%) occurring between Thanksgiving and the first week of January. It is expected that prices will thereafter climb rapidly by as much as 4% by mid-February.

If you’ve been considering a used diesel-powered car, now is the time to hit DealFinder and get the lowest price of the year.

Is there a used diesel model you would consider as your next car?


Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus


  1. I’ll comment on some of the arguments in favor of Diesel:
    1. Resale value is generally not a very convincing argument because drivers, especially Diesel owners, tend to keep their cars so much longer these days. With depreciation, long-held cars generally aren’t worth a lot and a very old Diesel actually tends to be worth less.
    2. I spend enough time in traffic behind vehicles that I know to be relatively new and still note the stink, although the improved fuels help. Diesels still have a big problem with particulates.
    3. I’m not sure we’re going to see the price differential be eliminated with Diesel because the factors driving the differential will actually get worse if a lot more Diesels are added to the roads.
    4. News and advertising isn’t going to help sell Diesels. It hasn’t helped to sell hybrids, which share many of the same reasons that keep people from buying.

  2. I have a 96 passat diesel that runs like a champ. Someday when it dies I will consider another vw diesel. Not the new ones though… An 07 passat or something.

  3. am interested in a late-model used VW Golf/Rabbit diesel to replace my 2004 Ford Focus sedan. i am considering converting the diesel engine to biofuel.

  4. Whatever happened to efficient 4-cylinder gas engines? Cheaper to buy, durable, good mpg… combine with turbocharging and you’ve got a real winner. Beats hybrid AND diesel in my mind.

  5. “The next generation of renewable diesel fuel is key to economic renewal.” I say BS on that statement. Economic “renewal” will depend upon conservatives getting control of the house, the senate and the executive branch in order to earnestly begin oil & gas drilling domestically. The current administration is killing the economy by strangling oil & gas drilling, exploration, processing and transportation…. intentionally. No way on God’s green earth will “green energy” jobs revive the economy. Another point…. the reason diesel is so much more prevalent in Europe is because of the tax structure on gasoline vs. diesel in Europe as opposed to how they both are taxed here. Diesel will never be more prevalent than gas in the US until the tax structure evolves much differently than the way it currently is. The higher initial cost, higher maintenance costs and higher fuel costs effectively reduce the attractiveness of diesel passenger vehicles.

  6. @Randy – Some things to keep in mind …

    1) Diesel fuel prices have seasonal fluctuation, due to the demands of the heating oil market. The differential this year seems abnormally high. We can play pin the tail on the donkey or elephant, as to what’s going on right now.

    2) Modern clean diesels do not “create stinking clouds” of exhaust.

    3) When you compare the total cost of ownership, you’ll find that diesel vehicles hold their resale value quite well.

    4) The next generation of renewable diesel fuel is key to economic renewal. Why don’t you hear about it on the evening news? Just watch which companies are buying the advertisements …

  7. Diesels have always been a mixed bag. The greater fuel efficiency comes with engines that generally are much better driving cars in traffic due to the low end torque, but something that can create stinking clouds of Diesel exhaust. For quite a while now, Diesel fuel has been much more expensive than gas, going for nearly $1 more per gallon. The kicker for Diesel sales seems to be much higher purchase cost and a more (and more expensive and critical) maintenance. Altogether, not a compelling reason to buy Diesel. Hybrids share some of the same problems, namely higher purchase cost, more complexity and more potential for high costs as batteries wear out and complex electronics break down. Compare that to something like, say a small Hyundai that gets mixed mode mileage of 30MPG, goes close to 100,000 miles on mainly oil and tire changes, and costs well under $20K. People who actually take the time to do a simple cost analysis will rarely choose a hybrid or Diesel unless they have compelling reasons that favor those types of cars.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.