Petrol vs Diesel - what is best for you?

Petrol vs Diesel - what is best for you?

The debate as to whether you should buy a petrol or a diesel car is one that has stayed on the mind of motorists for years. Some of you have a preference and some don’t, but there are some important factors to take into consideration, to help you make a better buying decision.

The cost of fuel

Typically, diesel is more expensive to buy per litre – although for the first time in 15 years, some pumps are offering diesel at a cheaper rate than petrol. Diesel engines are often more fuel efficient and therefore require less filling up than a petrol equivalent. The positive fuel economy of a diesel means you are also likely to fall into a lower road tax bracket too.

With this in mind, it’s worth thinking about a diesel to save you money in the long run. Although this will be very dependent on the amount of miles you do in the car per year. Normal rule of thumb is that if you are to drive less than 11,000 miles, it may be better to buy petrol, especially if you plan on doing lots’ of short journeys and the fact that it is expected that the price of diesel will soon go back above that of petrol.

The sound

Traditionally, the noise of a diesel engine has often been a bit of a turn-off, with it often sounding like the traditional ‘black cab’. But this is very much a thing of the past, with advances in engineering meaning there is very little between the two engine types. This is something that is only going to improve, to the point where you won’t be able to tell the difference at all. But effectively, a petrol engine is much closer to silence.

Dirty diesel

Petrol engines are notoriously cleaner due to petrol being a cleaner fuel.

It’s no secret that diesels are commonly thought of as being worse for the environment, based on CO2 emissions given off but major cities are now looking at a complete diesel ban. The Mayor of Paris is looking to ban them from the French capital by 2020! Other major cities are thinking of following suit, by imposing higher parking and congestion charges.

It's been widely reported that diesel car drivers may face certain restrictions in UK cities such as London, Birmingham and Leeds, with the UK Government trying to introduce 'clean air zones' to help improve air quality.

Diesel manufacturers do of course argue that the fuel isn't any worse for the environment. For the driver, it is important to consider if you are planning on driving short distances in major cities, as in the future you may get stung financially, or worse, not be allowed to drive there at all.

Maintenance costs

As well as paying out more initially for a diesel car, maintenance on a diesel engine is often more expensive too. As long as you look after your car regularly, this may not be a problem and it’s important to do a full history check on the vehicle, (something that we offer for free as part of our service) to ensure you are not buying a car that is going to spend more time in the garage than it is on the road.

Power versus comfort

If it’s power that you’re after, then diesel could be for you – ideal for towing a caravan/trailer (think tractors!). So if it’s power that you want, then diesel should be a serious consideration. If it is a smooth ride, then petrol’s are often the easier drive of the two fuel types.

Long term value

As mentioned earlier, the initial outlay on a diesel car is more than that of a petrol motor. But if you are thinking of changing cars every 12-18 months, this could play into your hands. Diesel cars also hold onto their value better, meaning you are more likely to recoup your initial outlay.

What to remember - the benefits


Often better for longer journeys

Ideal for towing a caravan or trailer

Generally retain their market value more than petrol versions

Better power and torque


A smoother vehicle to drive

Notoriously cheaper fuel

Less ongoing maintenance than diesel

Quieter engine

A cleaner fuel

So whatever you choose, just do your research to ensure you’re getting the right vehicle for yourself. But remember, the stereo types of petrol versus diesel are fast becoming extinct.

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