Volkwagen's 48 MPG Wonder: Jetta TDI Diesel Sedan

December 2, 2009


The price of fuel has gone up way too much. In response to this:

All good experience and hopefully great advice.  But what I havent shared with you the fantastic car that has (patiently?) enabled me to do a lot of experimentation with it so that I could share my experiences with you:

A Volkswagen Jetta TDI Sedan.

This is a German-designed diesel-engined work of technological wonder. With great fuel economy to boot.


Quite simply, I love my car because it has a small diesel engine. Why is diesel so special? For me, because it can run on more than one kind of fuel.

Sure, Ive dumped other combustible fluids into my fuel tank to see what happened stuff such as an alcohol/water mix, engine oil, transmission fluid, #1 fuel oil all with varying degrees of success or failure. But the main two squeezes that do it for me and my TDI are:

  • Petroleum Diesel   (EXPENSIVE) A diesel engine can run on that expensive petroleum-based diesel fuel one buys at the pump. With weekly trips to the fuel station, we lend solid proof of our slavery to the Middle East and their fuel mongers.  OR

  • Vegetable Oil   (FREE!) I run my car with recycled fryer oil I pick up from a Chinese restaurant. Read about my adventures in biodiesel here.

Before I rave about my car, first well have a little history on the engine that powers it


Barely more than a century ago, the mechanical technology bug had bitten many people as the world arrived upon the early Industrial Revolution Era. 

Back then, there was no gasoline or diesel fuel. In a world whose temples and churches had for centuries lit their hallways with lanterns filled with olive and rapeseed oils, an innovative young German man by the name Rudolf Diesel took the combustibility factor to the next step. Diesel is credited with the invention of an amazingly simple and reliable internal combustion engine that ran on 100% vegetable oil - peanut oil to be exact.

In the sense that his engine was powered by oil derived from an organic source, we have forgotten one important fact:

Biodiesel was the first engine fuel first used more than 100 years ago!


Some years before I bought my Jetta, I had done loads of research on it. In its earlier years, the Volkswagen Jetta model had gone through its trials, whether powered by a gasoline or diesel-engined TDI (the diesel engine signifier).

By the time I bought my 2003 Jetta TDI as a used vehicle (with only 15,000 miles from CarMax) in year 2004, I figured Volkswagen had shaken enough of the bad kinks out to make this into a great car.  While driving my TDI off the sales lot, I was filled with an eager anticipation of the reliability and joy it would provide to me through years of service. These 4 years and 155,000 miles later, I am glad to say the car has lived up to my expectations.


When I first read the manufacturers proffered fuel efficiency at 38 MPG in-town and 48 MPG on-the-road, I was thrilled. When I found out my car actually performed better than that, I was astounded!

On one trip I took to South Dakota which was powered entirely by 100% vegetable-based biodiesel I got 53 MPG!  This I attributed to driving with a brisk wind at my back all day long which lends evidence to the argument that driving slowly actually does a save on fuel.

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