What you need to know about clean diesel before you go green

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Do you want to do something good for the environment while still driving a vehicle with a...

Do you want to do something good for the environment while still driving a vehicle with a powerful diesel engine? Vehicles that run on ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) run cleaner and produce less soot than vehicles running on regular diesel. The following are factors to consider when weighing the pros and cons of adopting this clean burning fuel:

Cost per gallon versus higher mileage

Pro: While the per gallon price tends to be higher for ULSD, you can still end up saving money. The vehicles that run this clean fuel offer the benefit of better mileage thanks to the advanced technology used when building them.

Con: Clean diesel is associated with higher refining costs, worldwide demand and excise tax. When calculating the cost of running ULSD, add an extra 6 cents per gallon for the excise tax.

Cost of repairs versus few breakdowns

Pro: Diesel engines generally last longer and have lower overall maintenance costs. If you are looking at a used diesel vehicle, ask your mechanic to examine the engine for existing problems so you'll know whether you should expect any short-term repair costs.

Con: The costs associated with repairing a diesel engine tend to be higher than the costs associated with a gasoline engine, but the chances of a breakdown are lower with the ULSD vehicle.

Lubricant additives

Pro: Adjusting the lubrication when running clean diesel is easy. Just pour a container of diesel lubricant additive into your tank when you fuel the vehicle.

Con: If you want to run clean diesel fuel in an older diesel engine, ULSD is not going to provide enough lubricant to keep the engine running correctly. This is due to the removal of sulfur in the refining process.

Urea and ULSD

Pro: Some clean diesel engines use urea to help suppress emissions. Your mechanic can tell you if you own a vehicle that requires a urea additive. If you do, just keep an extra container of urea additive in your vehicle's storage compartment in case the levels in your engine run low.

Con: Some clean diesel engines will stop running completely if the urea runs out because the vehicle no longer meets Environmental Protection Agency specifications. You need to be aware of your engine's urea levels at all times.

Feel the power

Pro: It only takes a few minutes to ask your mechanic for details about additives to keep your clean burning diesel engine running smoothly. For example, some people use a water eliminator to keep unwanted moisture out of fuel lines and the engine.

Con: Even clean-burning diesel fuel can build up a layer of sludge in your engine, resulting in power loss or surges.

Thanks to advanced emissions systems, modern ULSD vehicles are often so similar to cars that run on regular gasoline that you won't notice any difference. Discuss the advantages of choosing a vehicle that runs clean diesel with your Atlanta-area auto service center.

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