There are so many things to consider when choosing your next car. Price, space, body type and colour are just a few of the options you’ll have to think about. Then there’s also manual or automatic to look at and, last but not least, petrol vs diesel.
There are lots of advantages for driving either a petrol car or diesel car and with legislation concerning combustible engines (as opposed to electric vehicles) a little way off, there are still plenty of bargains to be had with both types of engine in the used car market.
However, in the last year few years, there’s been a definite swing in the new car market, with new petrols currently outnumbering new diesels at around 2 to 1 (source: SMMT).
Diesel cars have had a bad press recently, as car tax has changed to reflect the emissions of NOx as well as CO2 which has previously seen petrol cars penalised with higher road tax. With some new car buyers now turning away from diesel in favour of petrol, we’re expecting that the availability of used diesel cars will be vastly reduced in the next few years, which may result in higher selling prices. So, if you’re a lover of the better economy and generally more powerful engines of a diesel vehicle, you should grab a diesel bargain at Autostore while you still can.
Costs aside, lots of people prefer a petrol engine which can be more responsive and quieter so better suited to nippy city driving.
With improving technology making diesel engines more reactive and giving petrol engines better efficiency, it’s often difficult to tell whether you’re driving a petrol or diesel car. Here are a few tell-tale features that might help you to decide on one over the other:
Litre for litre, diesel costs a good few pence more than petrol, but the higher miles per gallon associated with diesel cars means that you’ll have to make fewer trips to the fuel pump. This makes them especially suited to regular long journeys.
If you put the miles in, this better economy will pay off in the long run, outweighing the premium price you’d usually pay for a diesel car. Yes, diesels can be more expensive than the equivalent petrol but they also retain their value well, meaning that when it comes time to trade in or sell on, you’ll get more cash for your car.
When looked after properly, diesel cars also tend to last longer than their petrol cousins as diesel better lubricates the engine parts. Another advantage whether you are looking to invest in a car for the long term or intending to recoup some of your cash by selling it on in the future.
Diesels also provide better torque (or power) which is essential for towing or powering larger cars, vans and lorries. This additional strength comes in handy for countryside driving over hills and challenging terrain, which is why you’ll often encounter diesel-fuelled vehicles in rural areas.
Many drivers prefer diesel cars as they are more forgiving when changing gears, needing lower revs (and less force on the accelerator) while still providing enough oomph for motorway overtaking.
Petrol is usually the engine of choice for drivers looking for a more responsive car. Used petrol cars often have quick acceleration and quieter engines than diesel alternatives and are cheaper to buy than a diesel
Traditionally, petrol cars are not associated with power, although newer models are now seeing better torque, making them a little bit more suited to towing, while still not quite as capable as diesels.
Car buyers who like an engaging drive may prefer a petrol car as they need higher revs and a heavier acceleration foot to change gears.
Petrol cars don’t have a particulate filter so stop-start traffic doesn’t pose the same issues as it does with diesel engines that need regular long runs. With petrol engines, local journeys are not a problem, making them perfect as a city runabout or for a short commute.
Emissions-wise, as higher producers of CO2, petrol cars have historically been seen as the naughty guys. However, now that NOx emissions are also being taken into consideration, diesel cars are being more heavily penalised. This means that new petrol cars are currently cheaper to tax.
To keep emissions down, a diesel car is fitted with a particulate filter which means that it needs a regular good run for half an hour or so at speeds of 60mph+. If your driving never takes you near a motorway, perhaps you should look at a petrol option.
The introduction of Ultra-Low Emission Zones (ULEZ) will see some cars pay an additional charge for city driving in London, with other cities like Leeds and Birmingham expected to follow. However, most post-2015 diesels are manufactured to Euro6 standards which will satisfy criteria for these low pollution areas, meaning nothing extra to pay.
Once cheaper to insure than petrol due to a less ‘sporty’ image and therefore not as attractive to opportunist thieves, diesel engine improvements mean that many are now just as nippy as a petrol so unfortunately just as likely to be stolen by a joyrider. Since diesels are generally more expensive to repair than petrol, you’ll now find that they are also 10-15% more expensive to insure, like for like. Remember that insurance is based on a lot more than engine type - spec, modifications, make and model as well as where you live, your age, driving history and intended usage.
On the plus side for diesel, the manufacturer’s recommended time and distance between services is longer than petrol so you’ll have to fork out less often on that front. However, diesel services are generally more expensive than petrol. Whether you buy a petrol or diesel car, check to see if it’s still under warranty so that any unexpected repair costs can be covered.
Buying a used car means that you’ll be escaping the higher first year registration car tax. And after the first year, petrol and diesel cars now pay the same flat rate of road tax. Buy a used car registered after April 2017 and you won't notice a difference in car tax between the two fuels. Buy a used diesel registered before 2017 and you'll probably even find you're paying less road tax than for a petrol equivalent.
You can compare road tax rates, here.
The case for diesel or petrol is pretty balanced. Each has its pros and cons and many features are down to personal preference. Why not pop in to one of the Autostore showrooms to try out our fabulous used diesels and superb pre-owned petrol cars for yourself.
The choice is yours!