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Blog / Buying Guides / Diesel vs Petrol - Which is right for me?

Written by : The Car People

Published on:: 07/09/2017

Diesel vs Petrol - Which is right for me?

Diesel cars account for half of vehicle sales in the UK. Modern diesels are clean, fuel-efficient and offer comparable performance to their petrol counterparts. However to achieve these excellent results manufacturers have had to make them increasingly complex.

We’ve put together this guide to help you make an informed decision regarding the choice between petrol, diesel or alternative fuel types.

Vehicle price

Diesel engine cars can cost more than their petrol counterparts, so you’re going to be spending more, paying more in interest or buying an older car when compared to the petrol equivalent. However some of that cost will be recovered when you come to sell the vehicle, as it will also carry a higher residual.

Fuel cost

We all know fuel economy is better with a diesel, with sometimes significantly lower consumption on modern diesels allied to strong performance.

However, the price of diesel is slightly more expensive than petrol, so you need to ensure you’re covering enough mileage per year to recoup that increased cost.


Diesel cars are more expensive to insure than petrol cars. This is partly due to the increased purchase cost of the vehicle, but also to do with some of the expensive parts in modern diesel fuel systems.

Road tax

Lower emissions of modern diesels can often mean that road tax is less on diesel cars when compared to the equivalent petrol one.

Other considerations

Dependent on the manufacturer and the engine fi ed, some diesel cars can need more frequent servicing, so please be aware of any differences if you’re trying to compare.

Nearly all modern diesel cars are fitted with a diesel particulate filter (DPF), which is fitted to the exhaust to trap soot and reduce emissions. The DPF usually burns the soot it collects when the engine runs at operating temperature at reasonable speed over a period of time – this process is called regeneration. Without these journeys, the filter will need regenerating manually; if you only travel short journeys, then this may need doing frequently. Sometimes the filter can get blocked and failure to act may result in the filter being damaged. Repairing or replacing a DPF can be expensive. All cars with a DPF will warn drivers when there are problems with the DPF or the regeneration process.

Also, most modern diesels are turbocharged. It ‘s important to understand the correct way to operate a turbocharged engine, otherwise you may get issues with carbon build-up in certain parts of the engine.

Some diesels now come with an additive tank, commonly called ‘AdBlue’. This additive is designed to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel engines. If the vehicle that you are looking at has an AdBlue tank, it will need filling periodically. Your advisor will be able to provide more information.

Weighing up the costs

Taking everything into account, industry experts believe you would need to drive about 10,000 miles per year for a used diesel car to be more cost-efficient than a petrol one. This does depend on the type of usage, as some of the modern small capacity and high output engines will perform better in congestion and town driving.

For the right user, a diesel car will save money and offer many years of hassle-free motoring. However as they become increasingly complex it’s important to consider everything before deciding whether a diesel car is right for you.

What about alternative fuel types?

Hybrid and electric vehicles are becoming a more common sight on the road, and can be a good option if you’re looking at a greener alternative. While their presence is growing, the overall market share of these fuel types is still in the single figures when measured against petrol and diesel sales. However, we do monitor the availability of these vehicles and often carry a small number in stock, specifically when we feel that we can offer you value for money.


Hybrid cars have a normal diesel or petrol engine which runs alongside an electric motor. There are two types: the plug-in hybrid, which you can charge at home overnight, and a more conventional version which uses power from the petrol or diesel engine to charge the electric motor. The technology has been around for a few years and is beginning to mature. In some cases, hybrids can be a way of reducing fuel economy and reducing emissions. The electric motor can also assist when pulling away or accelerating.

Plug-in hybrids are quite a recent addition to the market, so there is slightly more limited availability. While they give you the benefit of greater full electric range and the ability to recharge from the mains, the greater cost is only balanced out if you perform mainly shorter journeys, when you can drive the vehicle solely on electric power.


Fully electric cars have no combustion engine of any type and are purely driven by electric motors. They are also quite limited in supply and choice of body type. Other than the Nissan Leaf, electric cars tend to feature at the top end of the market; however, as the technology improves, it is likely that more affordable options will become available. Earlier versions had very short ranges and long charge times, but battery technology is improving and some vehicles can now cover around 200 miles on one charge.

The only downsides with electric power at the moment are the limited range and the time it takes to recharge the battery. Both are key considerations when deciding whether an electric car is right for you.

Your advisor will be more than happy to discuss your options if you’re looking at one of our alternative fuel vehicles.

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