Currently reading: Best diesel cars for £500 - used buying guide
The rise of dieselgate could only result in one good thing - some great used bargains

Diesel is deader than disco. It’s official.

A year after Oilburnermageddon, as I’ve been rather elegantly calling the whole Volkswagen emissions debacle thing, it continues to have a domino effect on the car industry. All of a sudden, oil-burning engines don’t look too clever. That has resulted in Renault hinting that the cost of meeting the stringent emissions targets due in 2020 is likely to lead to the disappearance of diesel from the range. Considering that heavy oil represents a solid 60% of its sales, these are going to be interesting times – in the used car market.

Read more: VW emissions scandal - one year on

The new car showroom might change in the next few years with all sorts of different propulsion systems under the bonnet, but down at the used motor forecourt, diesel will be with us for decades to come. This may be subject to all sorts of government incentives and penalties to switch and scrap, but diesels are not going away, so while they are worth repairing, which ones should you buy?

As a rule, I would stick to cheap, disposable ones until the whole situation becomes clear. At least that position will also make me feel better about the 530d I’ve got. So it is all about condition and history. I am wary of high-mile diesels, but if the history shows that all the injectors have been replaced in the past few years, there isn’t much to go wrong. Apart from everything, of course.

So with £500 in your pocket, you might think that the options are limited to dodgy rubbish. Well, how about a 2004 Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi Ghia that’s HPI clear? Inevitably, it had a tow bar and 218,000 miles, but this was a dealer car with a year’s MOT. It would be lovely to think that you could squeeze a year out of that with not too much bother.

A few classified ads away, though, was a Peugeot 307 with a list of MOT advisories as long as your arm, so that was worth avoiding. As was a low-mile 2007 Mondeo Titanium with injector issues as spares or repair for the same money.

As I get older, I find myself looking at Rovers, and I thought a 2003 25 2.0 TD would be a laugh for £500. It had just 50k miles on the clock, too, so it shouldn’t be worn out or anything.

Ruppert 5thoct 624

If diesel Brits are your thing, I saw a 2005 Jaguar S-Type 2.7D Sport with fancy alloy wheels and lots of blacked-out chrome at just under £2000. It looked like a laugh, was a bit blingy and had done 164k miles.

Diesel, then, is still with us and there is a tonne of cheap stuff around. The opportunities are at the lower end and it’s the safest place to buy. Just don’t freak out, people.


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Ford's family car is now in its fourth iteration, but is the Mondeo ready to take the fight to a world burgeoning with rivals?

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michael knight 12 October 2016


PSA XUD. Andrew says, something without the EGR / DPF turbos and belts. They always cost big on high-mileage stuff, eventually.
Gojohnygo 12 October 2016

just kept going

Today I partex my Mondeo estate, 190000 miles 57mpg, I told my wife two years ago it needed to go and went out and bought a 135i, kept the car in use everyday even with a very rattly flywheel.Bought a new 140i today and got the same partex price, the only reason I sold the car was because the heater failed last winter (£1400 repair) and my better half refused to get in the car at 5.30 on a cold morning, but Yes bargains are out there.
Andrew 61 12 October 2016

Try and find,

something without DPF and has a chain cam engine. Maybe a mk1/2 focus 1.8TDCi. Good build and plenty of cheap ish spares at the breakers.
renster 12 October 2016

Other options

The old VAG 1.9 TDI is pretty indestructible and in the right form surprisingly pokey even by today's standards. Belt though. Seem to remember a skoda advertised nearby with the normally aspirated version with well over 300k miles. No turbo on it so it must have taken some years to put those miles on it...

Andrew 61 wrote:

something without DPF and has a chain cam engine. Maybe a mk1/2 focus 1.8TDCi. Good build and plenty of cheap ish spares at the breakers.