I can remember when diesel engines sounded noisy, like an old tractor starting up, but not any more. Nowadays diesel cars are quiet and the engines are clean and a lot more powerful, however, the government seems to have cottoned onto this and as once diesel fuel was a lot cheaper than petrol, the Chancellor has now made it a lot pricier so choosing between the two fuels is now no longer as clear-cut. Problem is, if it was simply down to miles per gallon then diesel would win every time, but you have to also take into consideration other factors such as the cost of the engine and the way a motorist drives. For example, a modern Ford Fiesta in a petrol version will set you back around £12,195, whereas the diesel version is £12,995. This is because diesel engines are getting more expensive to build due to increased legislation. There is a new part that has to be fitted – a diesel particulate filter (DPF) and this requires an injection upgrade. Moreover, in 2015, diesel engines will have to abide by Euro VI emissions standards, which means they will need a Nitrogen Oxide trap. It’s all adding up to making a diesel car more costly to manufacture in the long run. And the addition of DPFs in particular has been particularly problematic as Vanessa Guyll from the AA’s technical services explains, “The DPF and exhaust gas recirculation mean diesels really aren’t viable for short journeys and town work. The DPF doesn’t get hot enough to clear itself out. We get called to about 700 breakdowns a month for blocked DPFs. For anyone who potters around town and doesn’t do journeys that are a minimum of 10 miles we wouldn’t advise a diesel. Any savings owners might make on road tax would be quickly wiped out by fixing problems with the emissions equipment if usage isn’t suitable.”
So how can you decide whether or not to go for petrol or diesel? Well you should look at how many miles per year that you drive and the type of roads that you drive on.
Buy a Diesel car if:
- You tend to drive more than 10,000 miles a year.
- If you drive on motorways on a regular basis.
- If you typically carry a heavy load of many passengers.
- If you want a car that holds its resale value better.
- If you need a big 4×4 or people carrier.
- If you require a low down power for towing.
Buy a Petrol car if:
- You frequently drive less than 10 miles each journey.
- If you want a responsive car at low revs i.e. for pulling away at junctions.
- If you want a greener car.
- If you drive in the town or city more.
- If you really don’t like the sound of a diesel engine.
Any car engine will have to be running for around 10 to 15 minutes before it becomes fuel efficient as short journeys are very inefficient for any kind of engine. This is because cold engines use more fuel and pollute a lot more than warm engines. This applies to both petrol and diesel engines, and means neither are particularly fuel efficient. To work out whether petrol or diesel is best for you, you should take a look at the above and see what type of driver you are, then you will get the best out of whatever fuel engine you buy.