There was a time in the not-so-distant past when diesel-powered passenger vehicles almost non-existent in North America; the prevailing opinion stated that diesels were loud, unreliable vehicles that smelled bad and created too much smoke. While these things might have been based in truth once upon a time, recent advancements in “clean diesel” technology are bringing these vehicles back into prominence with automakers.

For every nugget of true information about diesel passenger vehicles, there are completely untrue myths circulating wildly; for example, the idea that diesels are worse for the environment is patently untrue, despite the claims of many old wives’ tales. In fact, the increased fuel efficiency means that diesels emit less carbon dioxide per mile traveled than a comparable gasoline engine. Also, the fuel economy of a diesel vehicle will often surpass the expectations printed on the window sticker, sometimes by several miles per gallon.

Despite the high fuel efficiency of diesel vehicles, savings at the pump might be a bit more complicated than you expect. Because diesel fuel tends to be slightly more expensive than gasoline in some places, fuel costs might be only slightly offset by the reduced usage. Also, though diesel engines tend to last much longer than their gasoline-powered brethren, they also require the same upkeep and regular maintenance. For higher-end German vehicles, the service costs can be significantly more expensive; however, the strong components and lubricating nature of diesel-fuel itself greatly reduce wear on the engine and can save thousands in repair bills.