If you’re in the market for a new motor then you’re probably asking yourself whether you want to go for a car that runs on petrol or diesel. With lots of motorists eager to cut their fuel bills, diesel cars have recently been in high demand as they are perceived as being a more cost-effective kind of vehicle. However the reality is rather more complicated that.
What To Consider
The first thing you’re likely to be thinking about when you go to choose a new car is the initial outlay as well as the running costs both now and in the future.
Diesel vehicles do tend to be a little more expensive when you are purchasing them and also hold their value well and typically have a longer, higher-mileage life, so used diesel cars are also usually more expensive than their petrol equivalent.
This is well worth considering fully, as depreciation is a large cost to think about when buying a new car. Then when you have bought your car and you’re running it on a daily basis, you need to remember that diesel fuel is a few pence more expensive than petrol in the UK (but it’s the other way round in most other European countries). However a diesel engine tends to be more frugal with fuel consumption, which means the higher the mileage, the lower the cost per mile.
Experts suggest that a used diesel car driver will have to clock up 10,000 miles to recoup the cost, and a new diesel driver some 6,000. So it could take some time to make buying a diesel car an economical option.
Diesel cars perform better and deliver real economic returns on long runs so if you’re a low-mileage driver or do a lot of shot trips, diesel is not for you. If you are only looking for a short-term car or you don’t do that many miles, then a petrol model will likely be your better option. Think carefully about your driving habits before you commit.
These are of course not the only costs to bear in mind. Insurance can be more expensive for diesel cars, with experts saying it can be as much as 10-15% more to insure than an equivalent petrol car so it’s important to shop around for your cover. Statistics suggest that diesel cars have higher average accident repair costs.
Unlike early models, modern diesel cars equipped with turbos can deliver better performance than their petrol equivalents and are thus likely to be a couple of insurance groups higher. . Look around for the best deal on your insurance, and you’ll see what is the best value for your needs.
Road tax is calculated based on CO2 emissions, so diesel cars can attract cheaper tax rates as they are more fuel efficient.
Diesel cars typically don’t need to be serviced as frequently as petrol cars, but when they do they will be more expensive. One issue that can be costly is the diesel particulate filter now fitted to diesel cars. These trap soot that is a bi-product of the exhaust. The filter also burns off the soot but need longish runs to do that effectively – say a 20-mile motorway trip. Diesel cars that only ever do short runs and rarely warm up properly can end up with a clogged filter which seriously affects performance and may be very expensive to sort out.
Ultimately there is no right answer as to which is cheaper. According to research by AA Cars, diesel cars are now almost as popular as petrol – while sales of hybrid and electric cars are gathering pace. The most important thing really is for you as the motorist to find the vehicle that is right for you and your driving patterns by looking at what’s available, and then assessing how cost-effective it will be for your budget and your needs.