Doctor Diesel

Conspiracy Theory?

Dear Doctor, 

Do you feel that manufacturers are today conspiring against owners like me whose motoring involves driving long distances? Before I buy a car, I check its fuel consumption, the fuel tank’s size and the real world driving range, which needs to be 550 miles minimum for me. Makers are now reducing fuel tank sizes to reduce weight, and the official fuel consumption figures are mostly a dream. So the real life range is reduced on each new model, along with which there’s often no spare wheel, and now we have AdBlue, at £2 a litre, to top up between services. The new CitroÎn SpaceTourer MPV has the AdBlue system and apparently a warning light illuminates when a refill is required. However, the light does not go out after this procedure, and a CitroÎn dealer visit is required for a reset ñ my nearest dealer being 25 miles away in Inverness. How convenient!

So, could you please tell me what car makers out there produce diesels (Euro-6) that don’t need AdBlue, which is a hassle and expense that I can well do without, and makes me seriously consider petrol power for my next car. I have owned diesels for 30 years, I average 30,000 miles a year, and I really don’t want to make such a change. 

By the way, I have been a Diesel Car subscriber since issue number one! My current car is a CitroÎn Berlingo Multispace (my second), and has a 60-litre fuel tank, and thus a 600-mile range; it has a full-size spare wheel, servicing at 16,000 mile intervals, has a CD player (a rare item these days. Doc.) and uses no AdBlue! Doubtless things will change for the worse when a new model arrives, but these have been brilliant cars. Sorry for the rant, but I feel frustrated that my choice of cars is dwindling, and it helps to share this with someone who I think will understand! Love your column! 

David Cliff, Carrbridge

A rant well worthy of The Doctor himself! You’re not after my job, are you? But thanks for unloading on me David, it makes me feel less lonely in my own frustrations with today’s cruel world. I fired your assertions regarding AdBlue at the Citroën UK Press Office and received a quick reply from them to say the following:

“The AdBlue low level warning light should extinguish itself if the vehicle, once topped up, is powered down – i.e. locked up and left for a few minutes or so; this may not actually happen on the odd occasion, as the amount of time left before refill, etc. can throw the system. However, the light will not disappear if the warning has been ignored and the vehicle reaches its “non-start” situation. The owner can refill the tank then, but nothing will happen and the car will not start until the system has been reset by an external computer at the dealer (And how does the car get to the dealer? Sounds like a very messy situation, and one to be avoided at all costs! Doc.) Our dealerships do offer to refill the tank etc. for £9.99, including 10 litres of AdBlue.”

So, the position is not exactly as you described David, or presumably had been told, and the cost of AdBlue is actually half that which you have been quoted. There is effectively no labour charge in the Citroën deal, and I found that some dealers throw in a free car wash, and some will offer the service while you wait with no pre-booking required. Let us hope that this deal for a refill for under a tenner at the main dealer is truly a long-term one!

I must also point out that an AdBlue top-up is required at somewhere in excess of 10,000 mile intervals and will be topped up at every regular service at a Citroën dealer, so the task is not that onerous, and you are given early (over 1,500 miles) warning before the fluid tank is likely to run dry, and you will only be in trouble if you continue ignoring the warning light on the dashboard.

I really don’t think that you will be able to escape AdBlue diesel systems, especially as the emissions regulations are set to get even tougher, and those manufacturers and car engines that have avoided using them are some of the cars that have had most problems, and probably will have to adopt the AdBlue system sooner or later. So it is best that you come to terms with it David, and accept that it won’t really be too difficult to handle, and it’s still a lot more sensible than petrol power in the kind of car that you’re going to need next time you change your vehicle.

Best regards, and many thanks for your letter on real paper! I so enjoyed transcribing it all into my PC!

Doc Diesel

4 Responses

  1. 10000 miles, alot of vw tiguans are only doing 3000 miles, and consuming 10 litres, also be recognise that since carrying out 23 r7 emission update of your car has the ad blue system or will consume more adblue and vw will cover 5 too ups as goodwill

  2. Only piece of advice I can give if the chap in this letter wishes to buy a diesel that doesn’t use adblue is to go for a vehicle from the Renault/Nissan range as they dont use adblue, I know this having run my Megane Coupe 1.5 DCI for nearly 4 years without needing it as it uses a different system. Hope this may be of help.

    1. While the post was from three years ago, the fact that they charged more than double what head office recommend, I would go back to the dealer and ask them why. I would expect a pound or two increase, but double is too much.

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