Petrol or diesel car – which is the best?

Petrol vs Diesel

You’ve made the big decision to buy a new car, but should you opt for a petrol or diesel engine? This choice can play a vital role in your final decision, so if you’re struggling to make up your mind, it can be useful to look at the pros and cons of both petrol and diesel engine cars.

Petrol vs Diesel

Costs of petrol or diesel cars

It is widely accepted that diesel cars are more expensive to buy, with manufacturers sometimes asking more for diesel models than their petrol equivalents (depending on the make and model). If you drive a lot of miles a year, then the higher fuel efficiency of diesel cars can give you better value for money.

Although diesel cars may be more fuel efficient in the long run, you may want to keep in mind the high cost of maintenance and servicing. Diesel cars can be more expensive to buy due to lower running costs, but in turn can be more expensive to service. It’s also worth considering that insurance prices vary for diesel and petrol cars, so it can be useful to get a few insurance quotes to ensure you’re seeing the full picture.

It’s important to consider the resale value too. According to the Money Advice Service, the resale price for diesel cars does tend to be more than their petrol counterparts, so this could mean your vehicle’s value holds better if you decide to sell.

The type of car you decide to purchase can have a big influence on all of the factors detailed above as well.

Pros and cons of petrol and diesel cars

To decide which fuel type best suits your needs, we have made a petrol vs diesel comparison that shows the pros and cons of each.

Pros of diesel cars

Financial costs:

One of the main factors when considering whether to buy a petrol or a diesel engine car is fuel costs. For instance, if you do a lot of miles, diesel might be a better choice. Similarly, if you are driving a larger vehicle such as an SUV, a diesel engine car can be cheaper to run.

Diesel engines last longer on average than petrol engines as they use less energy to power the engine. This will mean your investment into a diesel engine car could last longer than if you bought a petrol engine car. Another advantage is that, although diesel cars can be more expensive to buy outright, they generally don’t depreciate as quickly as petrol engine cars.

Picture of couple in car

Emissions and environment:

Diesel cars emit less CO2 than petrol cars, although they do produce other emissions at a higher rate. Some newer diesel cars which comply with the latest emissions regulations (Euro 6) also avoid incurring inner-city diesel charges, which older diesel cars face.

Driving experience:

In general, diesel cars are regarded as offering a more relaxing and forgiving driving experience than petrol cars. This is due to diesel cars operating at a lower torque, which means they don’t rev as highly as petrol. Therefore, diesel cars are generally better for long distances as they require less effort than petrol cars.

Cons of diesel cars

Financial costs:

Although diesel cars are generally more economic on fuel, they are also generally more expensive to tax and to purchase than petrol cars. This calls into question whether they are worth the higher upfront costs to get the other saving benefits down the line.

Diesel cars are generally regarded as more reliable than petrol cars, though can be more expensive to fix if something goes wrong with them. This is often due to one of the most common diesel engine faults – the diesel particulate filter (DPF). This component can get blocked up when driving short distances at slow speeds.

Diesel car

Emissions and environment:

The main chemical produced at a higher rate from diesel engines in comparison to petrol engines are nitrogen oxides. These can be extremely harmful in built-up areas, hence why the government is trying to discourage diesel cars driving in London by introducing the T-Charge in 2017. Taxes have also become stricter on diesel cars to encourage drivers to consider more environmentally friendly vehicles.

Driving experience:

Diesel engines are traditionally known for being noisier than the more refined petrol engines, but this problem has improved over the past few years. If you are looking for a car which is nippier and generally faster on the road, petrol engines tend to cater towards this.

Pros of petrol cars

Financial costs:

Running a petrol car is generally cheaper in the short term as petrol is around 10p cheaper per mile than diesel. Although this may seem insignificant, it can add up if you do a lot of miles. Petrol cars generally have lower purchase prices as they are more common and cheaper to run.

Emissions and environment:

Petrol engines generally emit more CO2 than diesel engines, but they’re better on other harmful emissions, such as nitrogen oxides. Therefore, petrol cars are suggested for city driving as they emit less harmful emissions in populated areas than diesel cars do.

Women in car driving

Driving experience:

Petrol engines are generally smoother than diesel engines. As opposed to some diesels being noisy and slower, petrol cars are more responsive and generally have a better feel for performance when driving.

Cons of petrol cars

Financial costs:

If you are planning on doing lots of long journeys in your new car, petrol may not be the best choice. This is because they are less efficient than diesel engines and use more fuel. As petrol engines operate at a higher rev range, they tend to be less reliable than diesel engines and run into problems more frequently.

Emissions and environment:

Petrol engines don’t emit some harmful chemicals at the same rate as diesel engines, but petrol engines still emit CO2 at a high rate which contributes to global warming.

Cars in traffic

Driving experience:

Petrol cars can be harder work to drive as they generally require more gear changes to get up to speed. Also, with regards to city driving, it can be easier to stall a petrol-powered car than a diesel car as there is a shorter biting point on the clutch.

Should I buy a diesel or petrol car?

The answer to which fuel type is better is dependent on personal preference and which suits your lifestyle better. Considering all the outlined pros and cons, we have roughly summarised which fuel type might be a better fit for you when buying a new car.

Is a diesel car right for you?

You should consider buying a diesel engine car if you do a lot of miles, and if most of your miles are spent on the motorway. If you want a smooth and comfortable drive which you don’t have to think too much about, a diesel car might be best for you.

Is a petrol car right for you?

You should consider buying a petrol engine car if you want a car that you aren’t going to be doing a lot of miles in, and if you live in a major city and want something generally cheaper for the short term.

For the average motorist, however, you should buy the car which you want to drive and will enjoy driving, as in most cases the cost differences should be small. Once you’ve decided the type of car you want and your preferred fuel choice, read our car buying guide which takes you through the process of purchase.

Have you found the car of your dreams, but need help to buy it? At Moneybarn we provide car finance for bad credit. Why don’t you get in touch? We are happy to help!